Academic Freedom

Departure of MassArt Professor Saul Levine Raises Academic Freedom Concerns

By |2018-04-03T11:54:45-04:00April 3rd, 2018|Press Releases|

After anonymous complaints about brief images of sexual acts in an avant-garde film shown in class, the Massachusetts College of Art and Design launched a sexual harassment investigation. Saul Levine, the professor teaching the class and the target of the investigation, who is also a well-regarded avant-garde filmmaker, resigned in protest. This incident raises serious concerns beyond the individual case.

Life Imitates Art: By Cancelling Play in Response to Controversy, Brandeis Compromises Freedom of Academic Discussion

By |2017-11-13T12:50:52-04:00November 8th, 2017|Blog|

Brandeis University has had to cancel a scheduled production of a play by Michael Weller after the playwright and the Theater Department failed to come to terms as to how the play would be presented.

Literary Classics Removed from High-School’s Alternative Reading List in Alaska

By |2017-06-09T12:29:59-04:00February 27th, 2017|Blog|

Alice Walker’s The Color Purple, Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner, J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye, and Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian were flagged for "explicit, graphic" content.

Update on CU Boulder incident: faculty review could clear Adler to teach “Deviance” course

By |2019-03-07T21:46:00-04:00December 18th, 2013|Blog|

Updates are coming in on the threat to academic freedom at the University of Colorado Boulder. According to the Daily Camera (via the Chronicle of Higher Ed's Ticker blog), CU professor Patricia Adler might still have a chance to teach her "Deviance in U.S. Society" course as early as the Spring 2014 semester–if the class clears a review of Sociology faculty, [...]

Sociology Professor Sanctioned for Class on Prostitution at University of Colorado Boulder

By |2019-03-15T16:42:36-04:00December 17th, 2013|Blog|

Why is it that every time sex enters the conversation in academia, harassment always appears to shadow it? How perverse - and unfair to real victims of harassment -  that this serious charge is used against a professor for nothing else than creatively doing her job. In a lecture on prostitution, a highlight of her regular course on deviance, University [...]

Professors and Advocates Call Out Former Gov. Mitch Daniels for Egregious Censorship Attempts

By |2019-03-15T17:46:47-04:00July 25th, 2013|Blog|

For those of you who haven't yet heard, the Associated Press recently revealed that Mitch Daniels, now President of Purdue University, attempted to ban the works of acclaimed historian Howard Zinn from classrooms in Indiana during his tenure as that state's governor. In 2010, after Howard Zinn's passing, Daniels (seen here in an artist's rendering) wrote an e-mail to the [...]

Colorado Academic Center Institutes Censorship Regime After Controversy Over Student Art Work

By |2019-03-15T17:10:10-04:00April 20th, 2012|Blog|

Until a few weeks ago, the Arts Building at the Aurari Higher Education Center in Denver featured several walls emblazoned with the kindly decree to “Post Artwork Here.” However, in light of recent controversy over the graphic work that student Estee Fox hung on one of these walls, the “authorities” (that blissfully meaningless blanket term) have rechristened these areas as [...]

NCAC and FIRE Issue Joint Letter To Villanova U. on Cancellation of Tim Miller Artist-In-Residency

By |2019-03-07T21:51:10-04:00February 24th, 2012|Blog|

This week, Villanova University's administration cancelled a weeklong, artist-in-residency program led by performance artist Tim Miller. NCAC and FIRE are calling on Villanova to reverse this decision. The joint letter (below) points out that the decision to cancel Miller's residency violates the principle of academic freedom. Miller is known as one of the "NEA Four" – four artists whose grants [...]

Hazelwood: A Student’s Perspective

By |2019-03-15T17:05:23-04:00July 15th, 2011|Blog|

Two years ago I sat upon the graduation stage to receive a diploma that would end my 13-year relationship with the public school I attended since kindergarten.  As a member of a class of 125 students, this day symbolized endless shared memories and a common identity between us.  Out of the five speeches given, the three student speakers [...]

CUNY Likely to Reverse On Kushner, But The Pattern Stands

By |2019-03-15T15:27:42-04:00May 9th, 2011|Blog|

A Seattle billboard removed by Clear Channel Outdoor It is appalling that the trustees of CUNY voted not to bestow an honorary degree on Tony Kushner, the acclaimed Pulitzer Prize winning playwright, because a trustee disagreed with his views on Israel. Denying him this honor solely because of his political views violates core First Amendment principles and is [...]

Victory Over Transnational Libel Case Brought Against Book Review

By |2019-03-07T21:50:57-04:00March 8th, 2011|Blog|

In a victory for academic freedom, the Tribunal de Grand Instance de Paris has ruled against a libel case brought against Prof. Joseph Weiler for  GlobalLawBooks.org's review of The Trial Proceedings of the International Criminal Court. ICTY and ICTR Precedents, by Dr Karin N. Calvo-Goller. The judge ruled that Calvo-Goller engaged in forum shopping by selecting France as the venue [...]

In Censoring Art Gainesville State College President Violates Academic Freedom

By |2019-03-15T17:03:22-04:00February 17th, 2011|Blog|

Stanley Bermudez' Heritage? (above) had been displayed for just over two weeks at the Gainesville State College Gallery before Martha Nesbitt, the President of GSC, ordered its removal. The painting, which layers images of a Klansman and a lynching upon a Confederate battle flag, drew protests spurred by a post on Southern Heritage Alerts. The Heritage Preservation Association, which has [...]

The Weiler Affair and Globalized Censorship

By |2019-03-13T15:37:50-04:00February 14th, 2011|Blog|

Prof.  Joseph Weiler of NYU, and Editor-In-Chief of the European Journal Of Law, has contributed an incisive editorial regarding charges that he defamed an author through an unfavorable book review: ...I was summoned to appear before an Examining Magistrate in Paris based on a complaint of criminal defamation lodged by the author. Why Paris you might ask? Indeed. The author [...]

Art School Pulls Student Pieces From Exhibition

By |2019-03-07T21:50:51-04:00November 24th, 2010|Blog|

A photograph of a male nude by Savannah College of Art & Design student Nicole Craine was among the several artworks taken down before an Open Studio Exhibition at the school in October. Reportedly, the students were given no explanation as to why their work was taken down. College administrators later admitted that the content would be “unacceptable” for a [...]

Student’s film removed from Boston University classroom

By |2019-03-07T23:19:06-04:00May 27th, 2010|Blog|

NCAC recently fielded a plea for help from a Boston University student filmmaker, at the College of Communication, whose film Wake Up had been removed from regular class consideration and critique for reasons which depended very much on point of view. The student thought it was art. The faculty called it pornography. What was not in dispute was that the [...]

Free speech Surrendered: Corpus Christi at Tarleton State

By |2019-03-15T15:31:28-04:00March 29th, 2010|Blog|

The cancellation of Terrence McNally’s play Corpus Christi by Tarleton State University, under pressure from the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights and others, is an affront to academic freedom and First Amendment principles of free speech. The play was denounced by Tarleton’s president, Dominic Dottavio, who called it “crude and irreverent.”  Texas Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst opined that [...]

NCAC Calls for Reinstatement of Tenured U of Colo Professor

By |2019-03-07T23:00:41-04:00February 19th, 2010|Blog|

NCAC joined the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and American Association of University Professors (AAUP) in filing a friend of the court brief calling for the reinstatement of Ward Churchill, who was fired from his tenured position at the University of Colorado after writing a controversial essay.  The case became highly politically charged after public officials began to call for [...]

Comment filters for online class disrupts education in Kentucky

By |2019-03-07T23:03:17-04:00February 5th, 2010|Blog|

A Jefferson County Public School student was banned from mentioning the name of his website in a Search Engine Optimization class offered through the school's online continuing education program.  His URL: www.olbastard.com.  His context: he sells bastard files. He attempted to post comments to the online forum, but because his URL was the subject of his questions, his posts were [...]

Two words on the chalkboard in Oregon draw complaints from parents

By |2019-03-14T17:36:22-04:00January 27th, 2010|Blog|

Athey Creek Middle School in West Linn, Oregon has taught its eighth grade students a First Amendment curriculum for ten years, addressing the controversies surrounding commonly-banned books and reading the books in class. The unit drew no major criticism until early last month, when librarian and teacher Michael Diltz faced ire from several parents. He had written two common “obscenities” [...]

NCAC, AAUP and Others Issue Call to Action Over Censorship in Response to Threats of Violence, Real and Imagined

By |2019-03-14T17:35:55-04:00December 1st, 2009|Blog|

The National Coalition Against Censorship and the American Association of University Professors, joined by leading groups in the academic, civil liberties, journalism, and free speech fields, issued a Statement of Principle and Call to Action urging governments, institutions and private individuals to support freedom of expression and academic freedom, and to resist caving in to threats of violence, real and [...]

Under Pressure from Police, Parole Board Stops Levasseur from Speaking at UMass Amherst

By |2016-01-14T15:36:23-04:00November 12th, 2009|Blog|

After being dis-invited upon pressure from Governor Deval Patrick and then re-invited by a faculty group, Ray Luc Levasseur is now stopped from speaking at The University of Massachusetts - Amherst because his parole board refused to let him leave Maine. The parole board has not given any reasons for this decision, but two facts make us suspect it was [...]

Against Gov. Deval Patrick and the Massachusetts State Senate’s wishes, UMass allows Levasseur to speak

By |2019-03-14T17:35:46-04:00November 10th, 2009|Blog|

The attempted cancellation of Ray Luc Levasseur’s talk at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, under pressure from Governor Patrick’s office, raises serious concerns not only about the state of academic freedom at the University but also about the Governor’s respect for the First Amendment. UMass, in an effort to educate students about the social unrest that occurred during the [...]

Images of Muhammad Banned from Book by Yale Press

By |2019-03-13T18:20:07-04:00August 13th, 2009|Blog|

The NY Times reports today that Yale University Press has not only decided to remove the controversial Danish cartoons of Muhammad from "Cartoons that Shook the World" by Jytte Klausen;  they have decided that all images of Muhammad have to go on the recommendation of a group of "diplomats and experts on Islam and counterterrorism". "...they suggested that the Yale [...]

NCAC Executive Director on Ward Churchill and protecting controversial speech

By |2019-03-07T23:00:40-04:00July 9th, 2009|Blog|

A court Tuesday upheld the University of Colorado’s firing of professor Ward Churchill after controversy arose from his essay which referred to victims of the 9/11 attacks as “little Eichmanns.” Judge Larry Naves ruled that Churchill would neither get his job back nor receive financial compensation. According to the LA Times, in ruling, the Judge stated “I am bound by [...]

BGSU art censorship update

By |2016-01-14T15:49:35-04:00March 25th, 2009|Blog|

In an email to faculty today BGSU Interim Provost Mark Gromko stated that “the piece was initially removed so that […] legal review could occur.” Apparently BGSU administrators were wondering whether “the sculpture constituted child pornography or breached restrictions on depictions of child abuse under Ohio law.” As is easy to ascertain, child pornography and depictions of child abuse both [...]

Self-Censorship on Campus

By |2019-03-07T22:39:40-04:00February 14th, 2009|Blog|

A new book, Closed Minds?: Politics and Ideology in American Universities (Brookings Institution Press, 2008), by Bruce L. R. Smith, Jeremy D. Mayer, and A. Lee Fritschler examines claims that America’s universities are dominated by faculty members who indoctrinate students in a leftist or liberal ideology and, instead found evidence of an “emerging risk-averse campus climate that threatens to impoverish [...]

A School Grows in Brooklyn?

By |2019-03-07T21:50:05-04:00December 12th, 2008|Blog|

A new article in Color Lines revitalizes the discussion around the Khalil Gibran International Academy in Brooklyn, NY. The school, which teaches classes in both Arabic and English, was conceived of in 2005 as a multicultural learning environment. “Since 9/11, Arabs have been targeted in New York,” said one Arab parent who did not want to be named for fear [...]