The Volokh Conspiracy

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Academic Freedom

The Resolution of the University of Florida Situation

The university relents but policy reform is needed to better protect academic freedom


As previously discussed, the University of Florida created a huge controversy by attempting to bar its professors from testifying as expert witnesses in a lawsuit against the state of Florida. The Academic Freedom Alliance was among the groups the rebuked the university for this violation of academic freedom.

The university has now fully backed down.  The AFA released the statement below.

The Academic Freedom Alliance applauds the University of Florida for heeding our calls to reverse course and support the freedom of its faculty to testify in court without restriction. This reversal represents a victory in the fight for academic freedom and shows the importance of organizing a national response to speech threats whenever and wherever they emerge. The university was right to appoint a Task Force to review the conflict of interest policy that led to the initial decision, and we wish the university well as it undertakes this process. We welcome the university to contact us if we can be of assistance in shaping its policies on academic freedom going forward.

It remains to be seen whether the university does a good job of modifying its policies to better protect academic freedom moving forward or whether it will implement those policies in a manner that is consistent with the proper mission of a university, but this is a good first step. I hope the university makes a sincere effort to prevent a repeat of this mistake.