Georgia Regents Approves Statement of Principles on ‘Academic Freedom and Freedom of Expression’

The Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia (USG) approved a statement of principles Wednesday that affirm and protect academic freedom and freedom of expression for students, faculty and staff at its 26 public colleges and universities.

“College campuses are meant to be places where students, faculty and staff learn and grow and one of the very important ways that they can do that is by sharing ideas, theories and opinions with each other even if it means also hearing things they might disagree with,” Board Chairman Harold Reynolds said. “Students especially should never feel they may suffer any repercussions for speaking out as part of the civil discourse on campus, no matter what side of an issue they may take.”

The principles assert the board’s commitment to academic freedom. They also affirm that USG values the diversity of intellectual thought and expression among students and faculty as well as the need for faculty to be unburdened by ideological tests, affirmations and oaths.

“Higher education is a place where people — young people particularly — come to realize that not everybody brings their same life perspective,” USG Chancellor Sonny Perdue said. “We want people to feel free to be expressive with their First Amendment rights on our campuses without being shouted down or called out as a matter of mutual respect and civil discourse.”

The board additionally asked the chancellor to conduct a review of board and university system policies regarding academic freedom and freedom of expression and to make recommendations for improvements.

The principles approved Wednesday are:

PRINCIPLE 1: The BOR affirms the 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom (from the American Association of University Professors).

  1. “Teachers are entitled to full freedom in research and in the publication of the results, subject to the adequate performance of their other academic duties; but research for pecuniary return should be based upon an understanding with the authorities of the institution.
  2. Teachers are entitled to freedom in the classroom in discussing their subject, but they should be careful not to introduce into their teaching controversial matter which has no relation to their subject. Limitations of academic freedom because of religious or other aims of the institution should be clearly stated in writing at the time of the appointment.
  3. College and university teachers are citizens, members of a learned profession, and officers of an educational institution. When they speak or write as citizens, they should be free from institutional censorship or discipline, but their special position in the community imposes special obligations. As scholars and educational officers, they should remember that the public may judge their profession and their institution by their utterances. Hence they should at all times be accurate, should exercise appropriate restraint, should show respect for the opinions of others, and should make every effort to indicate that they are not speaking for the institution.”

PRINCIPLE 2: USG values the diversity of intellectual thought and expression, which shall be reflected in a student body and faculty that respect the individuality and beliefs of all.

PRINCIPLE 3: The BOR values our faculty and the important role they play in teaching, conducting research and providing service. Faculty have the right to be unburdened by ideological tests, affirmations and oaths. The key basis for hiring, promotion and tenure should be achievement and a commitment to student success.

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