The Academic Freedom Movement: Year Two · 23 August 2004

In its first academic year, Students for Academic Freedom created a nationwide movement for academic freedom, becoming a leading force in promoting intellectual diversity and protesting political indoctrination and partisanship on American campuses. SAF has inspired legislators in 15 states and the U.S. Congress to take up the Academic Bill of Rights, and students on 135 campuses across the nation are working to persuade their school administrations to adopt the Academic Bill of Rights and enact reforms promoting intellectual diversity on campus. All of you have been a part of this amazing growth and we thank you for the work you have done to protect the rights of students on campuses across America.
Now as we head into our second year of operations, we can look back on an extremely productive summer, and look forward to carrying our mission even farther in the fall term ahead.

Reaching out to College Presidents

Our key project this summer has been an outreach campaign to college and university presidents. At each of the many campuses David Horowitz visited this past spring, he made it a priority to schedule meetings with the university's top administrators to discuss the principles of the Academic Bill of Rights. To the surprise of some, the ABOR was well-received by most of the administrators he met with. Emory University President James Wagner committed to making "political and intellectual diversity" a priority of his administration as did Brown University president Ruth Simmons who has made intellectual diversity a policy at her institution.

We applaud these university leaders for affirming the importance of the academic freedom movement. Actions speak louder than words, of course, and that it why we have focused on getting university presidents to formally adopt the principles of intellectual, political and religious diversity as part of their diversity programs.

What we've done over the summer is to issue a challenge to university leaders to live up to their commitments. We have drafted a new diversity statement based on the diversity and free speech policies of Yale University and on the principles of the Academic Bill of Rights and have written letters to the presidents of all public (and a few private) colleges in select states, asking that they include this one paragraph as part of the university's diversity mandate by the beginning of the fall term. So far we have targeted 88 campuses in seven states: Colorado, Georgia, Ohio, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, and select schools in Massachusetts.

While many legislators in over twenty states across the nation have expressed interest in introducing legislation based on the Academic Bill of Rights, we would much prefer that university officials adopt its provisions voluntarily. So we have given college presidents an opportunity to do just that-to make one minor change to their institutions' diversity statements that clarifies that intellectual diversity is a key component of a university education and must be explicitly protected. We sincerely hope that they will take this ball and run with it. We need your help in getting their attention.

Once you return to campus in the fall, you can use our efforts as a starting-point for further dialogue and discussion with your university leaders. If you are a student in one of the six target states of CO, GA, OH, MI, MO, or NV, we encourage you to send a letter to your college president or administrator in charge of diversity reiterating our request that they include this paragraph in their diversity policy. Even if your college is not in one of these target states, you can still make this request of your administration. A sample letter can be found here .

Please send me an email at sara@studentsforacademicfreedom.org to let me know when you have sent the letter, as we'll be keeping tabs on how many campuses have been requested to make these policy changes. By making use of the existing structures and policies of the university, this campaign has the potential to create immediate change in campus policies on intellectual and political diversity which will extend to the selection of speakers, the assignment of required readings, the funding of student organizations and many other areas of campus life.

Join the Academic Freedom Movement


The new semester is the perfect time to start up a chapter of Students for Academic Freedom on your campus or to recruit new members to your existing chapter. Deliver the message to your campus administration that abuse of students for their political, intellectual, or religious beliefs is unacceptable.

We have a great variety of printed SAF materials that I will be happy to send you in whatever quantities you need to distribute to students or hand out at your campus activities bazaar. Many of these materials are also available online including our organizational handbook which you can read at: SAF handbook.pdf. Simply send me an email at Sara@studentsforacademicfreedom.org and I will be happy to send you whatever quantities you need.

For more information on how you can get involved and start up a chapter on your campus or if you wish to report an abuse of your academic freedoms, please contact me in our Washington, DC office. You can reach me at Sara@studentsforacademicfreedom.org or at 202-969-2467. You can also find more information on our website at www.studentsforacademicfreedom.org.

Thank you for your participation in the academic freedom movement. I look forward to working with you over the course of the upcoming year to restore academic freedom and intellectual diversity to America's institutions of higher learning.

Yours in Freedom,

Sara Dogan
National Campus Director
Students for Academic Freedom