Commentary: Political Solidarity Statements Threaten Academic Freedom

January 26, 2024 1 min read

Keith E. Whittington
Chronicle of Higher Education

Excerpt: Barnard College has become the site of the latest flare-up in an ongoing struggle between faculty and university leaders for the control of university communication platforms. On October 23, the department of women’s, gender, and sexuality studies posted a statement of solidarity: “We support the Palestinian people who have resisted settler colonial war, occupation, and apartheid for over 75 years, while deploring Hamas’s recent killing of Israeli civilians.”

Shortly afterward, the university removed the statement from the departmental website. The move was in pursuit of the university’s “website governance policy” (established in November, after the department’s initial statement), which specifies that all subdomains of barnard.edu Internet domain are property of the college. Barnard is hardly alone in debating such issues. Princeton University recently tabled a policy aimed at formalizing procedures for units of the university to issue political statements.

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