“Liberty without learning is always in peril and learning without liberty is always in vain.”
- President John F. Kennedy
The core mission of educational institutions is to advance knowledge, promote the exploration of ideas, and train a new generation of informed citizens and competent leaders by exposing them to a wide diversity of views. In practice, once the conversation on campus turns to sensitive matters – of race, sexuality, religion, or politics – belief in this mission often falters. NCAC opposes attempts to silence classroom discussion on controversial subjects, to remove artwork from campuses because it may cause offense, and to cancel events because they address politically divisive issues, regardless of whether such attempts are initiated by the college administration of by an external source: In both cases they violate core principles of free speech and academic freedom.
Public educational institution are bound by the First Amendment to not discriminate against particular ideas, no matter how controversial they might be. Both public and private colleges are expected to uphold the principle of Academic Freedom, which protects higher education as uniquely important to the production and transmission of knowledge in society.
Campus censors are often well-meaning but also often misguided in their actions. NCAC produces legal and policy analysis to draw a clear line between serious problems like sexual harassment and discussions of sexual subject matter, which some students may find uncomfortable; between legitimate requests for balance and attempts to silence unpopular political viewpoints; and between a university’s non-discrimination policy and the suppression of conversation on sensitive and disturbing subjects.