Academic Freedom and Outside Speakers

Today, as college and university campuses nationwide experience an uptick in the cancellation of invited speakers, the AAUP released a statement concerning how higher education institutions should address the presence of controversial outside speakers. The statement, “Academic Freedom and Outside Speakers,” reaffirms the “right to hear” principle and expands on the relationship between controversies involving invited speakers and increasing partisan political intrusion in higher education.

The AAUP holds that respecting faculty and student choices of invited outside speakers is a part of academic freedom and a safeguard against politically zealous or overly cautious college and university administrators whose first instinct may be to censor speech that may challenge partisan political agendas.

“The cancellation of legitimate campus events and speakers we are seeing is alarming,” said AAUP president Irene Mulvey. “This statement will be helpful to faculty dealing with both inappropriate cancellations and legitimate protests, and should be required reading for all college administrators.”

The statement emphasizes the importance of a “right to hear” that includes and exceeds the presence of controversial outside speakers on college and university campuses and reaffirms academic freedom and shared governance as the cornerstones of higher education. 

Publication Date: 
Wednesday, November 29, 2023