ACTA Commends the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill’s Board of Trustees for Passing Resolutions to Protect Academic Freedom and Institutional Neutrality on Campus
August 2, 2022 by ACTA
Institutional neutrality preserves campus freedom of expression and intellectual diversity. When a university remains neutral and abstains from declaring a collective opinion on political and social issues, it frees students and faculty to develop and articulate their own individual ideas and opinions.
“The only way to figure out what is true, valuable and morally right is through thought and discussion. Freedom of speech is the path, not the problem. And it is vital that our institutions of higher learning understand that and make it known to all those whom we serve.”
“From time to time instances will arise in which the society, or segments of it, threaten the very mission of the university and its values of free inquiry. In such a crisis, it becomes the obligation of the university as an institution to oppose such measures and actively to defend its interests and its values.”
On February 25, 2023, the Claremont McKenna College Board of Trustees endorsed the Kalven Report, building on its Statement in Support of Institutional Nonpartisanship adopted on December 6, 2018.
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On February 2, 2024, the Columbia University Senate passed a Resolution Reconfirming Our Commitment to the Principles of Academic Freedom and Shared Governance. It reads, “The University and its leaders should refrain from taking political positions in their institutional capacity, either as explicit statements or as the basis of policy.”
October 12, 2023, Northwestern University President Michael Schill stated, “Regardless of what the University has done in the past, I do not foresee that I will be issuing statements on political, geopolitical or social issues that do not directly impact the core mission of our University, the education and futures of our students, or higher education.”
On January 13, 1978, the Reed College Board of Trustees adopted a policy on Academic Freedom & Institutional Political Neutrality, developing an earlier statement on political neutrality approved by the faculty on April 19, 1971.
On October 11, 2023, Stanford University President Richard Saller and Provost Jenny Martinez issued a statement saying, “We believe it is important that the university, as an institution, generally refrain from taking institutional positions on complex political or global matters that extend beyond our immediate purview, which is the operations of the university itself.”
On August 16, 2023, The Ohio State University Board of Trustees adopted its Philosophy on Institutional and Leadership Statements in Support of the Chicago Principles, which places limitations on institutional statements concerning social or political action.
In November 1967, a University of Chicago faculty committee, under the chairmanship of Harry Kalven, Jr., published the Report on the University’s Role in Political and Social Action, which advocates for institutional neutrality.
The University of North Carolina Board of Governors adopted Policy 1300.8 on December 15, 2017. This policy prohibits each of the 16 member institutions in the University of North Carolina System from acting “on the public policy controversies of the day in such a way as to require students, faculty, or administrators to publicly express a given view of social policy.”
• Appalachian State University
• East Carolina University
• Elizabeth City State University
• Fayetteville State University
• North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University
• North Carolina Central University
• North Carolina State University
• UNC at Asheville
• UNC at Chapel Hill
-On July 27, 2022, the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill Board of Trustees passed a Resolution on the Affirmation of Academic Freedom and Freedom of Speech that further maintains institutional neutrality.
• UNC at Charlotte
• UNC at Greensboro
-On May 23, 2023, the University of North Carolina–Greensboro Board of Trustees adopted a Resolution in Support of Academic Freedom and Freedom of Expression that protects institutional neutrality.
• UNC at Pembroke
• UNC at Wilmington
• UNC School of the Arts
• Western Carolina University
• Winston-Salem State University
In 2023, the University of Wyoming’s Working Group on Freedom of Expression, Intellectual Freedom, and Constructive Dialogue issued a Statement of the University of Wyoming Principles, which reads, “while University leaders will make decisions about matters that further UW’s educational mission, they do not, on principle, commit the University in ways that are outside of its core academic purpose.”
In a statement on its website, Utah State University President Elizabeth Cantwell quotes from the Kalven Report and promises to remain neutral on all matters apart from those that “endanger our institution’s ability to fulfill its land-grant promise of research, teaching, and service.”
On May 4, 2022, Vanderbilt University’s chancellor wrote an opinion-editorial asking university leaders to adhere to institutional neutrality. Vanderbilt’s website includes the following statement: “Institutional neutrality is the commitment our university leaders make to refrain from taking public positions on controversial issues unless the issue is materially related to the core mission and functioning of the university. Institutional neutrality does not obligate a university’s students and faculty to remain silent—rather, its aim is to allow the greatest possible space for student and faculty voices.”
On October 12, 2023, Williams College President Maud Mandel released a statement in which she said, “I do not believe it is the president’s job to speak for the whole community, or even that it is possible to do so.”
August 2, 2022 by ACTA
Washington, DC—On Wednesday, July 27, the University of North Carolina (UNC)–Chapel Hill’s Board of Trustees passed two resolutions affirming the university’s commitment to academic freedom and institutional neutrality on campus. The first resolution directs university personnel to “develop and issue policy requiring that the Senates of the Undergraduate Student Government and the Graduate and Professional […]
September 13, 2022
Violations of freedom of expression are surging on America’s college campuses. ACTA is providing colleges and universities with concrete steps to reverse this trend and affirm their commitment to civil discourse and academic freedom. ACTA’s Gold Standard for Freedom of Expression is a blueprint for building a positive open campus culture for generations to come.
December 13, 2017 by Robert J. Zimmer
University of Chicago President Robert J. Zimmer delivers remarks upon accepting the 2017 Philip Merrill Award for Outstanding Contributions to Liberal Arts Education. He spoke of how the “openness of universities to divergent and clashing ideas, to analytic debate, to rigor, and to questioning, is a critical ingredient in illuminating societal, scientific, and humanistic issues.” […]
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