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Academic Freedom against Rising Authoritarianism

The latest war in Israel-Palestine has again riled campus politics prompting many university presidents to condemn the deaths on both sides of this conflict and student groups to rally around occupied Palestinians’ struggle for self-determination and Israeli’s right to self-defense. At the same time, there are those in the media, on campuses, and in board rooms, who are calling for purity tests in an attempt to stifle this democratic debate. 

We see similar attempts to stifle democracy playing out in legislatures and college campuses across the country. The so-called “Stop Woke” movement seeks to use the legislative process to force changes to curricula that teach about race, gender and sexuality. As Ellen Schecker reminds us in her article “Political Repression and the AAUP from 1915 to the Present,” AAUP invented academic freedom and it continues to be its foremost advocate. But she cautions that with national and subnational authoritarianisms on the rise, we cannot be merely vigilant. AAUP must be organized and ready at a moment’s notice to address attempts to stifle democracy at its source: the democratic classroom. For more, check out the latest issue of Academe dedicated to “Confronting Legislative Attacks on Higher Education.”

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