The Volokh Conspiracy

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Free Speech

"Faculty Are Free to … Disagree with Any Policy … of the University … Without Being Subject to Discipline"

Words to live by from the President of the University of Chicago, in response to demands to punish a professor who spoke out against various "diversity, equity and inclusion" programs.


Here's an excerpt from the statement, by University president Robert J. Zimmer:

From time to time, faculty members at the University share opinions and scholarship that provoke spirited debate and disagreement, and in some cases offend members of the University community.

As articulated in the Chicago Principles, the University of Chicago is deeply committed to the values of academic freedom and the free expression of ideas, and these values have been consistent throughout our history. We believe universities have an important role as places where novel and even controversial ideas can be proposed, tested and debated. For this reason, the University does not limit the comments of faculty members, mandate apologies, or impose other disciplinary consequences for such comments, unless there has been a violation of University policy or the law.  Faculty are free to agree or disagree with any policy or approach of the University, its departments, schools or divisions without being subject to discipline, reprimand or other form of punishment.

That said, no individual member of the faculty speaks for the University as a whole on any subject, including on issues of diversity. In turn, the University will continue to defend vigorously any faculty member's right to publish and discuss his or her ideas….

The College Fix (Charles Hilu) has the background:

Associate Professor Dorian Abbot recently took on the push to hire women and underrepresented minorities rather than select the best candidate for the job, bias against Chinese and Christian students, and other hot-button topics, drawing the ire of protesting students who said the scholar made them feel unsafe.

But their efforts to get him sanctioned failed at the University of Chicago, considered the best university in the country for free speech….

UPDATE: Steven Hayward (Powerline) has more background; thanks to commenter Ed Grinberg for the pointer.