Executive Council Statement | Quality Education

Opposition to the Misnamed “Academic Bill of Rights”

San Diego, CA

WHEREAS, the U.S. labor movement has always supported worker rights and basic freedom of expression and thought;

WHEREAS, it is especially critical that institutions vital to the free expression of ideas, such as the press and higher education, be free from government interference;

WHEREAS, a concerted campaign has surfaced to convey the erroneous impression that college and university professors are all left-wing radicals exposing students only to their own political opinions and harassing those who do not hold their views;

WHEREAS, this negative campaign has gone so far that one organization at the University of California at Los Angeles actually offered to pay students for reporting on what their professors say and do;

WHEREAS, to address the presumed bias in higher education, legislation – misnamed as either an Academic Bill of Rights or a Student Bill of Rights -- has been introduced in 24 state legislatures and the U.S. Congress that would provide for government monitoring of curriculum, including reading materials in the classroom, to ensure that right-wing ideas are given more prominence; monitoring of faculty hiring practices to ensure that more conservative faculty members are hired; and tampering with longstanding procedures to protect faculty members from unsubstantiated student complaints;

WHEREAS, students, including those from working families – many of whom attend public colleges and universities --  would be negatively affected by replacing academic professionalism with political ideology;

RESOLVED, the AFL-CIO opposes the passage of legislation, misnamed the Academic Bill of Rights and the Student Bill of Rights, as an unacceptable infringement on free speech and an unwarranted intervention of government into academic decision making.