Monday, January 29, 2007

Marquette Statement on Rejection of Students For Academic Freedom

From Brigid Miller, Director of University Communication, on today’s rejection of the application of Students For Academic Freedom to become a recognized student group.
As you may know, the Office of Student Development worked with the student over a period of several months regarding concerns about the group’s proposed constitution and discussed numerous options or revisions for the student to consider. When this student decided not to amend the constitution, the office notified the student that the group would not be recognized as a Marquette student organization.

Some of the issues identified in the proposed constitution, i.e., reading lists, academic conferences and classroom speakers, are curricular decisions within the purview of individual faculty members or faculty departments. Preserving this faculty discretion is a key tenet of academic freedom.

Procedures are already in place on campus to address many of the concerns cited in the proposed constitution for Students for Academic Freedom.
This statement, which appears to echo arguments fed to Miller by the Office of Student Development, is close to bizarre.

Just reading it, one might gather that Students For Academic Freedom was asking for the right to censor class reading lists at Marquette. One might gather that the organization was asking for the right to veto particular speakers or cancel conferences they don’t like.

In reality, all they asked for is the right to criticize the University, faculty and administrators on any of these issues.

Thus, “academic freedom” to these people means not merely that they get to make the relevant educational decisions. It means they cannot be criticized for decisions they make.

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