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The Daily Tar Heel

UNC faculty backs policy change

Resolution will address freedoms

UNC’s faculty executive committee reaffirmed its support for academic freedom Monday by supporting a possible resolution regarding a University policy.

The committee will vote Dec. 17 on whether to support the University’s adoption of such a resolution to the policy passed by the UNC system’s Faculty Assembly.

The resolution, which was passed Sept. 17, stems from an awareness campaign conducted by the American Association of University Professors.

Included in the Faculty Assembly’s report is a statement strongly in favor of academic freedoms, specifically mentioning freedoms of research and publication, teaching, internal criticism and participation in public debate.

Faculty Council member Steven Bachenheimer said that the faculty executive committee met Monday to gauge the level of enthusiasm in going forward with a resolution to amend the policy’s wording.

He added that the AAUP has called on universities nationwide to beef up their academic freedom policies.

The AAUP’s project came in response to a 2006 Supreme Court decision, “Garcetti v. Ceballos,” which ruled that government can restrict the speech of public employees when they comment on issues related to their official duties.

“There are always cases of attempts to punish people for their actions under the generally accepted guidelines and understanding of academic freedom,” Bachenheimer said. “It’s always a good idea to revisit and remind people of these policies.”

Faculty Council member Lloyd Kramer said the committee wants to keep the resolution as simple as possible.

“Academic freedom is not simply a license to say whatever you want, anywhere,” he said.

Faculty chairwoman McKay Coble said all schools in the UNC system are being asked to develop their own amended resolutions in support of the UNC-system Faculty Assembly’s resolution.

“By accepting this resolution, we are sending a message to the UNC system, the state and the Board of Governors that this is how we feel about academic freedom as a family of universities,” she said.

She added that although UNC has not had any specific incidents of academic freedom infringement, affirmation of the policy by UNC-system universities is critical.

“Solidarity between all schools in the system is important.”

Bachenheimer said that it is especially important for UNC-CH to support the resolution.

“With regard to the system, whether we like it or not, UNC-Chapel Hill is seen as a campus that should be leading the way,” he said.

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