September 15, 2021

A GOOD MOVE FROM KENT SYVERUD: A Good Statement on Faculty Speech from Syracuse. “I’m a believer in positive reinforcement, and when university leaders do the right thing they should get credit for doing so. Kent Syverud, the president of Syracuse University and a former law professor, did the right thing. Other university presidents should take notes.”

I note, though, that it takes criticism of leftist faculty to produce such statements. And so does Keith Whittington here:

Syverud was much less vocal when a professor was targeted by campus activists and denounced by members of his senior administration for calling COVID-19 the “Wuhan Flu or the Chinese Communist Party virus.” On that occasion, FIRE had to remind Syracuse about its obligations when professors say controversial things. Far from vocally defending that professor, Syracuse instead suspended him and launched an investigation over whether he should be further sanctioned and perhaps fired, contributing to FIRE awarding Syracuse a “Lifetime Censorship Award.” That professor’s case dragged on for months before Syracuse finally reinstated him.

One hopes that Syracuse has learned its lesson and will now aggressively defend free speech regardless of whether it is off-campus right-wing activists or on-campus left-wing campus activists attacking it.

If you want free speech on campus, it’s sadly probably necessary to attack leftist professors’ statements. The idea of academic freedom basically originated as a means of protecting leftist faculty from the angry bourgeoisie. For a while leftists thought they’d silenced the angry bourgeoisie and could do without academic freedom. I think it’s necessary to remind them that they’re not as safe as they thought. Hey, I don’t make these rules. They did.

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