IN INSIDE HIGHER ED., a bad review for the AAUP:
In any event, on purely intellectual grounds, â€œCommittee A on Academic Freedom and Tenureâ€ would have been better advised to seek a broader preliminary review. Thatâ€™s because, regardless of oneâ€™s views about the propriety of bringing political opinions to the college classroom, the report is ill-executed. It takes aim at arguments that the critics havenâ€™t made; it caricatures other criticisms; and it insists on strange premises â€” the most singular of which is the idea that â€œtruthâ€ is whatever the members of a discipline say it is.
Besides enunciating the AAUPâ€™s dismal view of conservative scholars, the report makes one other theme abundantly clear. If we take the corporate authorship of the report at face value, the nationâ€™s largest association of faculty members cares far more about the freedom of professors than it does the education of students. In the AAUPâ€™s view, the freedom of faculty members is as broad and open-ended as a circus tent. The freedom of students to be taught in classes that focus on the subject at hand, unadorned by their instructorsâ€™ opinings on President Bush, global warming, or immigration â€” that freedom â€” hardly exists.
It wasnâ€™t always so. The AAUP was founded in 1915 by Arthur Lovejoy and John Dewey, who had been moved by the firing of a Stanford University faculty member because of his political views. The AAUP made its first mark with its publication of a â€œStatement of Principlesâ€ that laid out a compelling account of what academic freedom should be. First sentence: â€œThe term â€˜academic freedomâ€™ has traditionally had two applications â€” to the freedom of the teacher and to that of the student.â€ The AAUPâ€™s founding document is primarily concerned with the freedom of the teacher, but it includes a powerful set of caveats. As this paragraph does not appear in more recent AAUP statements or as far as I can tell elsewhere on the Internet, I offer it here in its entirety . . . .
The AAUP in 1915 saw the potential for faculty members to abuse academic freedom, and it warned that for the profession to protect itself it would have to â€œpurge its ranks of the incompetent and the unworthyâ€ who included those who engage in â€œuncritical and intemperate partisanship.â€
Nowadays that’s not a bug, it’s a feature!