Fix Values, Not Statues, Says National Association of Scholars

National Association of Scholars

New York (January 27, 2016)—Responding to the Black Lives Matter and other campus protests of recent months, the National Association of Scholars (NAS) published a major statement on the purposes of higher education.  The statement responds to calls by protesters to erase the names and images from college campuses of historical figures such as Thomas Jefferson, Woodrow Wilson, and Cecil Rhodes.

NAS president Peter Wood, author of The Architecture of Intellectual Freedom, said that these calls, though presented as exercises in academic freedom, actually undercut it. “In seeking to suppress images, names, and ideas, and prevent others from expressing their views, the protesters efface the promise of freedom,” Wood said. The statement argues that colleges and universities do more than prepare students for their careers, and more than answer students’ thirst for knowledge.  Higher education, says the statement, is primarily about teaching “young men and women how to be free.” 

To accomplish this, according to Architecture, colleges and universities must treat “intellectual freedom” as a core value.  But to sustain intellectual freedom, colleges and universities must brace it with other powerful principles.  The statement explains that intellectual freedom does not mean the freedom to hide from ideas and points of view with which students disagree.  “Hearing directly from people you disagree and listening carefully to what they say is indispensable,” says Wood. 

Wood said intellectual freedom is like a stone in an arch.  “It cannot hold itself up in midair. But when it is buttressed by other stones, the arch is powerful. The other stones are a genuine diversity of ideas; the colleges’ curriculum; respect for individual independence of mind; treating those who disagree with civility; and pursuing the truth, no matter if runs against your prior beliefs.”

“Many students are missing this foundation,” Wood explained. “They demand the right to protest but don’t realize that, on campus, such protest comes with the obligation to let others have their say.”   Wood said that both supporters and critics of the campus protesters often misunderstand the doctrine of academic freedom.  “Freedom on campus is not just for speaking your mind. It is for listening to others, seeking truth, and shaping ideas worthy of respect.”

About the National Association of Scholars

The National Association of Scholars is a network of scholars and citizens united by their commitment to academic freedom, disinterested scholarship, and excellence in American higher education. It upholds the standards of a liberal arts education that fosters intellectual freedom, searches for the truth, and promotes virtuous citizenship.

Contact: Peter Wood, President

(917) 551-6770, [email protected]

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

  • Share

Most Commented

October 25, 2022


NAS President Peter Wood Addresses the Pending Racial Preferences Cases

Read NAS president Peter Wood's remarks on the upcoming Supreme Court cases, which he presented at a meeting of "Oasis," an informal group of academics and intellectuals based in......

July 25, 2022


Against Transgenderism

The ideology of transgenderism strives to slam shut any door that offers opposition to its attempts to acquire power and control. This statement explains our opposition to such an ideology i......

October 20, 2022


NAS Statement on Nomination of Ben Sasse for University of Florida President

We believe that Senator Sasse would make an excellent president of the University of Florida, and we urge the Board of Trustees to follow the search committee’s recommendation....

Most Read

May 15, 2015


Where Did We Get the Idea That Only White People Can Be Racist?

A look at the double standard that has arisen regarding racism, illustrated recently by the reaction to a black professor's biased comments on Twitter....

October 12, 2010


Ask a Scholar: What is the True Definition of Latino?

What does it mean to be Latino? Are only Latin American people Latino, or does the term apply to anyone whose language derived from Latin?...

May 12, 2017


Harvard Prepares to Host All Black Graduation

Is Harvard's all black graduation a benign trend or a step backwards? ...