ARE STUDENTS AND PROFESSORS THREATENING THE EXISTENCE OF THEIR OWN ACADEMIC FREEDOM?

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The academic freedoms of some universities across the country are having their freedoms threatened, not by the government at present (as we see in China, Korea, Russia), but from the inside by students and misguided faculty members. In a recent article concerning the constraint of academic freedom at the urging of those teaching and learning at universities, the author notes, “some students and teachers now seek to constrain argument and debate. They contend that people should not be exposed to ideas with which they strongly disagree. Moreover, they argue that history should be rewritten to expunge the names (though not the endowments) of those who fail to pass today’s tests of political correctness. Thomas Jefferson and Cecil Rhodes, among others, have been targeted. And how would Churchill and Washington fare if the same tests were applied to them?”

The author argues that “Universities should be trusted to exercise that degree of control themselves.” We agree. The notion that our forefathers, and other founders of this country, should be judged by comparing their acts back then, to our present era, is unreasonable. I liken this to the belief that the Constitution should be read and applied exactly as it was written (See, for example, how Scalia tried to poison the constitution with his backward thinking.) without adjusting to actual changes prompted by newly discovered evidence and natural changes in cultural beliefs. To think otherwise is to be frozen in thought, a concept that is the antithesis to the need for complete and free learning in all universities. We must always heed the lessons of our histories, and endeavor not to repeat the mistakes once made, but we should never tether erudition with individual, and often ephemeral concerns, which threaten the overall teaching purpose of our universities.

 

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