National Free Speech News & Commentary

Affirmative Action Fallout Sours Donor Relations

June 13, 2024 1 min read

Liam Knox
Inside Higher Ed

Excerpt: Almost as soon as the Supreme Court struck down affirmative action last June, Missouri attorney general Andrew Bailey fired off a response. Within hours of the rulings in Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard and UNC Chapel Hill cases (SFFA), Bailey ordered the state’s public colleges and universities to comply—which in his view meant removing race-conscious policies “not just [in] college admissions, but also scholarships,” an extrapolation that many legal experts say is unnecessary.

University officials quickly began amending institutional grants and scholarships across the system’s four campuses, according to Christian Basi, the Missouri system’s director of public affairs. Since then, they’ve worked methodically to bring other awards in line—including endowed scholarships that donors specified should go only to members of certain racial or ethnic groups.
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Why Universities Are Retreating from the Culture War

June 13, 2024 1 min read

Zach Kessel
National Review

Excerpt: Two days after the deadliest massacre of Jews since the Holocaust, Harvard University leaders issued a statement professing to be “heartbroken” over the October 7 Hamas massacre and expressing hope that the university could play a role in fostering dialogue around the “Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

That statement — roundly criticized as lacking moral clarity —  contrasted sharply with the righteous indignation the university displayed in response to the 2016 presidential election, the Charlottesville “Unite the Right” rally, the killing of George Floyd, and the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Those statements, of course, drew furious criticism from Americans who don’t happen to share the political commitments common in Cambridge.
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Harvard Goes Only Halfway Toward Institutional Neutrality

June 12, 2024 1 min read

Daniel Diermeier
Wall Street Journal

Excerpt: Harvard University announced last week that it will no longer “issue official statements about public matters that do not directly affect the university’s core function” as an academic institution. This is welcome news for all of us who have long been concerned about politicization of universities and the resulting erosion of free expression in academia.
     
Yet [the] new policy makes a crucial omission that is at the core of the current controversy on campuses. Students at universities nationwide have called on their institutions to join the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel. According to the Harvard working group co-chairs, it didn’t “address, much less solve, the hard problem of when the university should or shouldn’t divest its endowment funds from a given portfolio.
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Did Penn just squash free speech rights to avoid more pro-Palestinian protests?

June 12, 2024 1 min read

Ryan Ansloan
FIRE

Excerpt: Over the last academic year, the University of Pennsylvania has experienced fierce protests, congressional hearings, and outcry from students, faculty, and donors that resulted in the shortest tenure of a president in the history of the private, Ivy League university. Now, in the shadow of that turmoil, Penn seems prepared to abandon its storied commitment to free expression.
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Pro-Palestinian Protesters Arrested at UCLA During Final Exams

June 11, 2024 1 min read

Alyssa Lukpat and Nicholas Hatcher
Wall Street Journal

Excerpt: A new round of pro-Palestinian demonstrations swept the University of California, Los Angeles, where 25 protesters were arrested after setting up an encampment, the latest outburst of campus tensions over the Israel-Hamas war.
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Commentary: The Impossible College Presidency

June 11, 2024 1 min read

Brian Rosenberg
Chronicle of Higher Education

Excerpt: I suspect that I am not the only former college president who has experienced a mild bout of PTSD during the past several months, as the frequency, intensity, and visibility of attacks on presidents have increased to a level that would have been difficult to imagine even on my worst days.
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