Chris Uggen's Blog: aaup policy on outside speakers

Sunday, September 30, 2007

aaup policy on outside speakers

last week, i got a timely email about free speech on campus from the american association of university professors.

the policy's five key points would appear to be a useful starting point for department chairs and administrators hosting controversial speakers. an excerpt:

In 2005—after several colleges and universities withdrew valid invitations to speakers during the 2004 election cycle—the American Association of University Professors published the statement Academic Freedom and Outside Speakers. Now that another election cycle is upon us, it is important to reiterate our policy’s key points:

1. Many colleges and universities permit student and faculty groups to issue their own invitations to outside speakers. That practice is an important part of academic freedom and institutions should respect it.

2. When an authorized faculty or student group invites an outside speaker, this does not mean the institution approves or disapproves of the speaker or what the speaker says, has said, or will say.

3. Colleges are free to announce that they do not officially endorse a speaker or the views a speaker expresses, but they should not cancel a speech because people on campus or in the community either disagree with its content or disapprove of the speaker.

4. Institutions should ensure that all legitimately invited speakers can express their views and that open discussion can take place.

5. Only in extreme and extraordinary cases may invitations be canceled out of concern for safety.

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