Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Academic Freedom at Stanford

 Academic Freedom at Stanford

[This petition was sent to the president of Stanford on April 13th, 2021]

The signatories of this letter are concerned about the state of academic freedom in American universities. Freedom of expression and open inquiry are vital to the search for truth, which is the core mission of the academic enterprise. To preserve the integrity of our mission, and to signal the importance of free speech in universities everywhere, we urge the president and board of trustees of Stanford to join the more than 80 other universities to publicly endorse the University of Chicago statement on free expression, and to state that it is Stanford university policy.

Sincerely, 

The undersigned

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The Petition and signatories are here.  185 faculty signed the original; 7 have asked that their names be dropped from the public version. 



9 comments:

  1. Every serious university should adopt this statement or a version thereof and make it a legally binding official policy, a promise to all students and faculty that can be raised in lawsuits against administrators should they dare treat those as empty words.

    There is no excuse for chasing political heretics and apostates on college campuses. None.

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    Replies
    1. Well said, it is a fundamental basis of a good society.

      Delete
  2. All very well. But the statement on free expression omits necessary context. Unrestrained expression of ideas is necessary within the ivory tower. Within the ivory tower it is obligatory to recognise expressed ideas as philosophical statements distinctly separated from practical reality. Within the ivory tower it is obligatory to recognise that expressed ideas are offered solely as elements of debate. Strictly within this context it is possible to express any possible idea without concern for inopportune consequences of such expression (such as the effect of screaming "fire" in a crowded theatre). This is all very necessary to the proper functioning of the ivory tower so that it may perform a useful service to those outside of the ivory tower.
    Outside of the ivory tower different principles are necessary. All public expressions carry with them a degree of responsibility for their consequences.
    Unfortunately the statement on free expression says nothing about this great dichotomy between operating principles inside, and outside, the ivory tower.
    Also, unfortunately, our modern technological environment has made the ivory of the tower permeable to the point of virtual invisibility. Freedom within the context of debate can only be sustained if a hard line is drawn around the arena of debate. The statement on free expression fails to do this.
    --E5

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  3. Do we know the President's response?

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  4. Bravo, sir.

    What percentage of the faculty signed?

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  5. James Anderson MerrittNovember 17, 2021 at 3:44 PM

    I notice that the Statement reserves the University's right to restrict speech that "violates the law." There is no mention that, often enough in the history of Western civilization and at other times in other places, speaking the truth or questioning authority were against the law, even in our "land of the free and the home of the brave." Curious.

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    Replies
    1. The "violates the law" is enough in the US where free speech is a right enshrined in the US constitution. For universities elsewhere there might be a need to frame it differently.

      Delete
  6. The Stanford FAQ page says there are 2279 faculty. So <10% signed. Bravo to those who did, of course, but this is not encouraging. Presumably the rest either disagree, or are afraid to sign, or, at best, are indifferent to the erosion of academic freedom.

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  7. Attempt 2. Allow me to simplify.

    "Plebes are not smart enough to understand our high erudition. We, the self-anointed masters of thought must protect the idiots and moron plebes from dangerous ideas."

    Wasn't that simpler, and clearer?

    ReplyDelete

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