UNIVERSITY OF OREGON POLICIES ON ACADEMIC FREEDOM

UNIVERSITY OF OREGON POLICIES ON ACADEMIC FREEDOM

The University of Oregon currently lists three policies in the policy library that govern academic freedom and free speech at UO.

The Freedom of Speech and Inquiry policy is the oldest current academic freedom and free speech policy at UO, last revised in 2010. It is policy 01.00.16. It states:

The University of Oregon values and supports free and open inquiry. The commitment to free speech and freedom of inquiry described in this policy extends to all members of the UO community: Faculty, staff, and students. It also extends to all others who visit or participate in activities held on the UO campus.

Free speech is central to the academic mission and is the central tenet of a free and democratic society. The University encourages and supports open, vigorous, and challenging debate across the full spectrum of human issues as they present themselves to this community. Further, as a public institution, the University will sustain a higher and more open standard for freedom of inquiry and free speech than may be expected or preferred in private settings.

Free inquiry and free speech are the cornerstones of an academic institution committed to the creation and transfer of knowledge. Expression of diverse points of view is of the highest importance, not solely for those who present and defend some view but for those who would hear, disagree, and pass judgment on those views. The belief that an opinion is pernicious, false, and in any other way despicable, detestable, offensive or "just plain wrong" cannot be grounds for its suppression.

The University supports free speech with vigor, including the right of presenters to offer opinion, the right of the audience to hear what is presented, and the right of protesters to engage with speakers in order to challenge ideas, so long as the protest does not disrupt or stifle the free exchange of ideas. It is the responsibility of speakers, listeners and all members of our community to respect others and to promote a culture of mutual inquiry throughout the University community.

Access to UO facilities and space is governed by a complementary policy, Scheduling Use of UO Facilities.

The first Academic Freedom policy was adopted on 05/28/2014 though the University Senate process. It is policy number 01.00.19.

It reads:

The University of Oregon encourages and supports open, vigorous, and challenging debate across the full spectrum of human issues as they present themselves to the university community. The University of Oregon protects free speech through Policy No. 01.00.16. This policy on Academic Freedom builds on these existing commitments by recognizing the special contexts of scholarship, teaching, governance, and public service

SECTION 1

a. SCHOLARSHIP.  The University's research mission requires that members of the UO community have autonomous freedom to conduct research and produce creative work, and to publish and disseminate that work, limited only by the standards and methods of accountability established by their profession and their individual disciplines.

b. TEACHING. The University's responsibility to help students to think critically and independently requires that members of the university community have the right to investigate and discuss matters, including those that are controversial, inside and outside of class, without fear of institutional restraint.  Matters brought up in class should be related to the subject of courses or otherwise be educationally relevant, as determined primarily by the faculty member in charge of the class.

c. POLICY AND SHARED GOVERNANCE. Members of the university community have freedom to address, question, or criticize any matter of institutional policy or practice, whether acting as individuals or as members of an agency of institutional governance.

d. PUBLIC SERVICE. Public service requires that members of the university community have freedom to participate in public debate, both within and beyond their areas of expertise, and to address both the university community and the larger society with regard to any matter of social, political, economic, cultural, or other interest. In their exercise of this freedom, university community members have the right to identify their association or title, but should not claim to be acting or speaking on behalf of the University unless authorized to do so. 

SECTION 2

These freedoms derive immediately from the university’s basic commitment to advancing knowledge and understanding. The academic freedoms enumerated in this policy shall be exercised without fear of institutional reprisal. Only serious abuses of this policy – ones that rise to the level of professional misbehavior or professional incompetence – should lead to adverse consequences.  Any such determinations shall be made in accordance with established, formal procedures involving judgment by relevant peers.

The second Academic Freedom policy was adopted on July 1, 2014 as part of the transition from the OUS system, although it was revised as recently as September 2, 2015. It does not seem to have a policy number, despite the requirement that all policies have a policy number.

It states:

(1) All teachers in the University of Oregon (University) are entitled to freedom in the classroom in discussing subjects, but they should be careful not to introduce into their teaching controversial matter that has no relation to the subject.

(2) As a matter of policy the University neither attempts to control, sway nor limit the personal opinion or expression of that opinion of any person on the faculty or otherwise on the University’s payroll. In the exercise of this freedom of expression, faculty members should manifest appropriate restraint, should show respect for the opinions of others, and should make every effort to indicate that they do not speak on behalf of the University.

 

The Collective Bargaining Agreement between the University of Oregon and United Academics has an Academic Freedom article. This article only applies to faculty in the bargaining unit.

ARTICLE 5. ACADEMIC FREEDOM, FREE SPEECH AND FACULTY RESPONSIBILITY

Preamble.

As stated in the Mission Statement, the University of Oregon "strives to enrich the public that sustains it through the conviction that freedom of thought and expression is the bedrock principle on which university activity is based." Academic freedom and freedom of speech are necessary conditions to teaching and research. This policy establishes a robust view of academic freedom and freedom of speech in order to ensure that faculty have the freedom to conduct research, to teach, to engage in internal criticism, and to participate in public debate.

Section 1. The University protects academic freedom and bargaining unit faculty members shall enjoy its benefits and responsibilities:

(a)       The freedom to conduct research and creative work and to publish or otherwise disseminate the results of that work. Within the broad standards of accountability established by their profession and their individual disciplines, faculty members must enjoy the fullest possible freedom in their research and in circulating and publishing their results. This freedom follows immediately from the university’s basic commitment to advancing knowledge and understanding.

(b)      The freedom to teach, both in and outside of the classroom. Faculty members must be able not only to disseminate to their students the results of research by themselves and others in their profession, but also to train students to think about these results for themselves, often in an atmosphere of controversy that, so long as it remains in a broad sense educationally relevant, actively assists students in mastering the subject and appreciating its significance.

Section 2. Academic responsibility implies the competent and full performance of duties and obligations and the commitment to support the responsible exercise of academic freedom by oneself and others. Each bargaining unit faculty member has the responsibility to:

(a)       Observe and uphold the ethical standards of his or her discipline in the pursuit and communication of scientific and scholarly knowledge;

(b)      Treat students, staff, colleagues, and the public fairly and with respect in discharging his or her duties and in accordance with this Agreement and University Policy No. 01.00.16 (Freedom of Inquiry and Free Speech), approved by the President on December 28, 2010;

(c)       Respect the integrity of the evaluation process, evaluating students, staff, and colleagues fairly according to the criteria and procedures specified in the evaluation process;

(d)      Represent oneself as speaking for the university only when authorized to do so as part of one's position or professional responsibilities; and

(e)       Participate, as appropriate, in the system of shared academic governance, especially at the department or unit level, and seek to contribute to the academic functioning of the bargaining unit faculty member’s academic unit (program, department, school, or college) and the university.

Section 3. All bargaining unit faculty members are guaranteed the protections of freedom of speech, as derived from the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America and Section 8 of the Article I of the Constitution of the State of Oregon.

When faculty members speak or write as members of the public, they should make every effort to indicate that they are not speaking for the university. They may identify their university affiliation so long as no university sponsorship or endorsement is stated or implied.

The University encourages and supports open, vigorous, and challenging debate across the full spectrum of human issues as they present themselves to the university community. The University protects free speech through Policy No. 01.00.16 (see Appendix I) and all bargaining unit faculty members have the protections derived from that policy.