Academic Freedom

Statement approved by the senate on November 6, 2006

The Faculty Senate reaffirms its commitment to the AAUP Statement on Academic Freedom, in particular its proclamation that "Teachers are entitled to freedom in the classroom in discussing their subject, but they should be careful not to introduce into their teaching controversial matter which has no relation to their subject" and its clarifying note: "The intent of this statement is not to discourage what is 'controversial.' Controversy is at the heart of the free academic inquiry which the entire statement is designed to foster. The passage serves to underscore the need for teachers to avoid persistently intruding material which has no relation to their subject."

From time to time a faculty member may need to leave pedagogical materials for students outside their office door, attached to a bulletin board, or in another designated place. The removal of these materials for purposes other than pedagogy is a direct infringement on the academic freedom of faculty and students and seriously undermines the college's mission to educate the whole person. We wish to take this opportunity to remind all members of the faculty, staff, and student body that removing such materials is a serious infraction.

Further, faculty and departments may also make use of bulletin boards outside of their offices or in the corridors of academic buildings. These bulletin boards are under the management of the faculty member or department and should not be tampered with by any other member of the community. With due regard to the College's policies on Sexual Harassment and the College Mission, such boards are opportunities for faculty to share with the community issues within their discipline and other academic issues and concerns, as well as places to highlight personality traits of the faculty member, larger societal issues and concerns, and important information for the community. Such bulletin boards are therefore important elements in achieving the college's educational and community goals. To deface these boards, remove items without the permission of the faculty member or department, is to create an environment where open and honest discussion of complex issues is stifled in favor of anonymous, and sometimes malicious, defacement.

The Faculty of Stonehill take seriously the college's mission to encourage "students to develop a lifelong desire for self-discovery and commitment to service that will lead to truly purposeful and rewarding lives." This goal requires serious reflection, civil debates, and open deliberation on important political, social, academic, and economic issues. Thus, when pedagogical tools are stolen, mass mailings on potentially divisive issues are sent anonymously, and faculty or departmental offices and bulletin boards are defaced, students and faculty are denied their rights to academic freedom and the College mission suffers.