The Corner


Academic Freedom Keeps Shrinking

A man walks through an empty campus green at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., April 3, 2020. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

By now, most Corner readers have probably heard about the incident at Georgetown Law, where a professor has been terminated for saying in a private conversation that she lamented that black students weren’t doing well in her courses. The College Fix has the story.

The professor, Sandra Sellers, didn’t mention any student by name, but simply observed that “affirmative action” at Georgetown has what she regards as an unhappy consequence. Instead of discussing whether that’s true, the dean, Bill Treanor, did what most academic leaders now do whenever a faculty member says something that bothers “woke” zealots — he fired the offender.

Sellers issued one of those sickening apologies, but it did no good. Why not just stand up for the truth of your claims and your right to say them?

A professor who praised communism in the McCarthy era had less to worry about than one who criticizes affirmative action today.

Georgetown has an official policy of supporting the academic freedom of faculty members, but in light of this, I suggest that it should revise it to say that professors have complete academic freedom — except for statements that run contrary to deeply held leftist beliefs. Any such statements will be grounds for termination.

George Leef is the the director of editorial content at the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.


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