News: When the Professor Is Controversial – Inside Higher Ed

The political views of academics should not be used as the bases to hire, fire, promote or demote them. That idea — not terribly disputed — is at the center of draft policies being released today by the American Association of University Professors on how to handle personnel issues involving politically controversial academics.

But even if the AAUP and many of its critics agree on that statement, they are likely to disagree on at least some of the principles put forth by the association. …

To prevent inappropriate political intrusion, the report offers a series of principles. For example, when responding to charges that indoctrination is going on in the classroom, the AAUP states that “[o]nly the proven demonstration of the use of ‘dishonest tactics’ to ‘deceive students’ — not the political views, advocacy, or affiliations of the faculty member — may provide grounds for adverse action” and that “[n]either the expression nor the attempted avoidance of value judgments can or should in itself provide a reasonable ground for assessing the professional conduct and fitness of a faculty member.” … The report says as well that colleges must focus on academic substance, not style. “The academic imperative is to protect free expression, not collegiality,” it says. And as to political speech outside the campus, the report says that “consideration of the manner of expression is rarely appropriate to an assessment of academic fitness.”

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