A caricature of the AAUP.

17 07 2008

As the President of our campus chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), I read this profile of national President Cary Nelson as soon as I saw it this morning. Here’s the only part that really bothered me:

The AAUP still has outside critics, too, like Anne Neal of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, who believe the organization is too concerned with protecting faculty teaching rights at all costs, even if students don’t hear all viewpoints. She argues for more emphasis on faculty accountability and responsibility.

“The AAUP itself needs to become more clear on what academic freedom means,” she said. “It’s not anything goes.”

It took me less than two minutes to assure myself that Anne Neal has no idea what she’s talking about. From the AAUP’s 1940 Statement of Principles:

Academic freedom is essential to these purposes and applies to both teaching and research. Freedom in research is fundamental to the advancement of truth. Academic freedom in its teaching aspect is fundamental for the protection of the rights of the teacher in teaching and of the student to freedom in learning. It carries with it duties correlative with rights.

[Emphasis added]

So much for “anything goes,” but what are those duties?:

College and university teachers are citizens, members of a learned profession, and officers of an educational institution. When they speak or write as citizens, they should be free from institutional censorship or discipline, but their special position in the community imposes special obligations. As scholars and educational officers, they should remember that the public may judge their profession and their institution by their utterances. Hence they should at all times be accurate, should exercise appropriate restraint, should show respect for the opinions of others, and should make every effort to indicate that they are not speaking for the institution.

Frank Donoghue, who I keep referring to these days, explains that that language is actually a compromise. It seems like a reasonable one to me. Academic Freedom is not an excuse to be a self-absorbed, narcissistic schmuck.

Why is this unclear to Anne Neal?




2 responses

17 07 2008

“students don’t hear all viewpoints” is usually code for pushing right wing ideology. For example, creationism is one of the points that the right feels students are not being adequately exposed to. The biased profs who teach only Darwin are at fault.

Sometimes it is code for the opposite, the student are hearing positions that the right doesn’t want them to learn. This is the same trick that is used to distort the record of the courts and the press, both of which are claimed to have a “liberal” bias.

Here’s some info about Ms. Neal

17 07 2008

Here’s something about her organization as well:

Notice the number of neo-cons on their national council. I’m sure a bit more digging would reveal who is paying the bills.

This too:

(you need an account to read the whole thing)

A Not-So-Professorial Watchdog

Anne Neal has never worked at a college, but she has become a leading critic of left-wing faculty members

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