Protecting academic freedom

University faculty should feel a sense of security in their speech and expression.

The University of Minnesota Faculty Senate recently voted to secure the facultyâÄôs voice over a variety of different matters, in response to reckless court decisions around the country that have limited academic freedom. One court decision is especially troublesome. After having his pay reduced because the publically voiced his concerns of administrative decisions, a University of Wisconsin âÄì Milwaukee associate professor recently argued his case to a federal court, which he was promptly greeted with defeat. The way the courts say it, if you are an employee at a university and want to speak publically about an issue, watch your back âÄî your superiors have full disciplinary power over you. The University Faculty Senate has an opportunity to be the model for other colleges and universities across the country. The new provisions will give the faculty a true sense of academic freedom, as they will no longer have the potential of being demeaned for voicing their opinions. The ability âÄúto speak or write without institutional discipline or restraint on matters of public concernâÄù, as stated by the new provisions, will protect the voice of the University of Minnesota, which is one of the most important assets to any institution of higher education. All the controversial administrative decisions that have taken the University by storm, such as the recent graduate school restructuring, proves how important a free voice is for faculty who want to voice concerns. We urge the Regents to act quickly and positively on the new provisions at their next meeting. The time has come for the security of a true sense of expression to come to the University of Minnesota.