Search This Blog

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Subversion of Academic Freedom

Samuel Goldman at The Week:
Attitudes toward higher education are sharply partisan, though. A Pew study in August found 76 percent of Democrats but only 34 percent of Republicans believe colleges have a positive social impact. And that difference is reflected in two recent controversies about academic freedom, one at Yale Law School (YLS) and one at the University of Georgia. Disparate in some respects, both incidents involve subversion of the university's core principle of academic freedom in pursuit of knowledge.

In the first case, at Yale, administrators have come under fire for pressuring a student to apologize for hosting a "traphouse" party featuring "Popeye's chicken" and "basic-b--ch-American-themed snacks (like apple pie, etc.)." Recordings show an associate dean and the YLS diversity director threatened professional consequences for the student, whose ostensibly "triggering" activities also included participation in the Federalist Society, an influential right-leaning legal scholarship organization. "You're a law student," they warned, "and there's a bar you have to take."

The Yale story was much-discussed among prominent commentators. The Georgia case has attracted much less attention outside academic circles. On Wednesday, the regents of the University of Georgia system voted to revise its employment policies, making it easier to fire tenured faculty.