KU and KSU Academic Freedom Policies Analysis · 23 March 2006

By Sara Dogan--SAF--03/15/06

University of Kansas

Policies:

The University of Kansas has numerous policies which reference academic freedom and related topics. Among them are:

KANSAS BOARD OF REGENTS POLICY STATEMENT ON THE USE OF CONTROVERSIAL MATERIALIN INSTRUCTION, INCLUDING THE USE OF SEXUALLY EXPLICIT MATERIALS IN INSTRUCTION (adopted April 23, 2004).

 

Link: http://www.provost.ku.edu/policy/...042304.doc

 

The Kansas Board of Regents recognizes that academic freedom must be balanced by academic responsibility. To that end, it is the policy of the Kansas Board of Regents to require each institution within its jurisdiction to adopt the following set of precepts on the use of sexually explicit materials, the teaching about pedophilia and the conduct and management of courses relative to these topics:

"Students are entitled to an atmosphere conducive to learning and to even-handed treatment in all aspects of the teacher-student relationship. Faculty members may not refuse to enroll or teach students on the grounds of their beliefs or the possible uses to which they may put the knowledge to be gained in a course. Students should not be forced by the authority inherent in the instructional role to make particular personal choices as to political action or their own social behavior. Evaluation of students and the award of credit must be based on academic performance professionally judged and not on matters irrelevant to that performance, whether personality, race, religion, degree of political activism, or personal beliefs.

It is the mastery teachers have of their subjects and their own scholarship that entitles them to their classrooms and to freedom in the presentation of their subjects. Thus, it is improper for an instructor persistently to intrude material that has no relation to the subject, or to fail to present the subject matter of the course as announced to the students and as approved by the faculty in their collective responsibility for the curriculum."

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Source: Excerpted from the AAUP's 1970 Statement on Freedom and Responsibility.

 

Handbook for Faculty and Other Unclassified Staff (revised in 1998)
Section: C.2.a.4. Academic Freedom

Link: http://www.provost.ku.edu/policy/faculty....a.4.

AAUP statement. The University has a long tradition of dedication to the principles of academic freedom and has sought to implement these principles as they are embodied in the "1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure" and further developed in later revisions. The University's position on academic freedom is, therefore, fully reflected in the following excerpts from that statement:

Teachers are entitled to full freedom in research and in the publication of the results, subject to the adequate performance of their other academic duties; but research for pecuniary return should be based upon an understanding with the authorities of the institution.

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. . . .

College and university teachers are citizens, members of a learned profession, and officers of an educational institution. When they speak or write as citizens, they should be free from institutional censorship or discipline, but their special position in the community imposes special obligations. As scholars and educational officers, they should remember that the public may judge their profession and their institution by their utterances. Hence, they should at all times be accurate, should exercise appropriate restraint, should show respect for the opinions of others, and should make every effort to indicate that they are not speaking for the institution. . . .

Regents Policy. In recognition of the fact that academic freedom includes not only the right of dissent, but also the freedom to pursue academic aims, the Board of Regents has adopted a policy on interference with the conduct of the institution. It is reproduced from page 6G of the Board's Policy and Procedures Manual:

Actions by faculty, staff, students or visitors which unnecessarily and unreasonably obstruct or interfere with the teaching, research or learning functions or other normal and necessary activities of a Regents institution, or which create an imminent threat of danger to persons or property, may constitute grounds for suspension, dismissal or termination, or permanent exclusion from the campus. (1970, 1986, 1996)

Handbook For Faculty and Other Unclassified Staff
Article IV: Faculty Responsibility: 1. Teaching (pages 55-56)

Faculty who teach are expected to teach courses in their department or school in accordance with the needs, requirements and expectations thereof and the general requirements concerning the conduct of classes specified in various University regulations.

Good teaching requires continual application and effort. Faculty who teach are expected to keep abreast of new developments in their fields and must maintain credentials as scholars so that they are part of the creative process by which the frontiers of knowledge and culture are continually being expanded. A teacher should be engaged with his/her particular discipline and should be able to convey to the students the value of the subject.

Teaching duties of a professor include not only classroom activities, but also such duties as preparing course syllabi, lectures and examinations; being available for consultation; supervising independent work undertaken by students; directing theses and dissertations; evaluating students; advising; and participating in curriculum planning. A professor is expected to treat students with courtesy and to respect their rights, including, but not limited to, academic freedom and those rights as outlined in the Student Code of Rights and Responsibilities.

Academic advising is a part of the teaching responsibility of faculty who teach. In the case of non-teaching faculty, comparable professional responsibilities shall be those defined by their departments and the relevant standards of their disciplines.

IV. Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities
(Lawrence Campus)

[Relevant sections on academic freedom are excerpted. For the full Code, see http://www.vpss.ku.edu/rights.shtml]

Title
Art. 1. These rules shall be known as the Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities.

Bill of Rights

Art. 2. The following enumeration of rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage other rights retained by students in their capacity as members of the student body or as citizens of the community at large:

  • Free inquiry, expression, and assembly are guaranteed to all students.
  • Students are free to pursue their educational goals; appropriate opportunities for learning in the classroom and on the campus shall be provided by the University.

The right of students to be free from harassment or discrimination based on sex, race, color, national origin, religion, ancestry, sexual orientation, disability, or, as specified by law, age, or veteran status, marital or parental status shall not be abridged. University policies on Sexual Harrassment, Racial and Ethnic Harassment, and the Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Grievance Procedures provide guidance and explain these rights…..

Classroom Expression

Art. 5. Discussion and expression of all views relevant to the subject matter are permitted in the classroom, subject only to the responsibility of the instructor to maintain order.

  1. Students are responsible for learning the content of any course for which they are enrolled.
  2. Requirements of participation in classroom discussion and submission of written exercises are consistent with this section.

Art. 6. Academic evaluation of student performance shall be neither prejudicial, capricious, nor arbitrary.

Art. 7. Information about a student's views, beliefs, and political associations acquired in the course of instruction, advising, and counseling is confidential and is not to be disclosed to others unless by written consent of the student.

 

 

 

 

Analysis:

 

The policies of the University of Kansas accord with the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) guidelines, and in several instances quote them directly, in stating that professors should avoid persistently introducing into their teaching controversial material which is irrelevant to the subject of their courses.

 

We can see this in the Kansas Board of Regents' statement on the use of controversial material in instruction which quotes the 1970 Statement on Freedom and Responsibility as stating:

 

"It is the mastery teachers have of their subjects and their own scholarship that entitles them to their classrooms and to freedom in the presentation of their subjects. Thus, it is improper for an instructor persistently to intrude material that has no relation to the subject, or to fail to present the subject matter of the course as announced to the students and as approved by the faculty in their collective responsibility for the curriculum."

 

The AAUP policy quoted also makes clear that students must not in any way be asked to compromise their personal political views in the classroom, stating "Students should not be forced by the authority inherent in the instructional role to make particular personal choices as to political action or their own social behavior."

We see these same aspects of academic freedom highlighted also in the faculty handbook which states 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."

The policies of the University of Kansas do not explicitly mention the importance of intellectual diversity or teaching a spectrum of significant scholarly beliefs on the subjects examined in academic courses, but they do refer to the need for professors to stay current in their fields (presumably for the purposes of being able to teach the current spectrum of knowledge on their subjects), noting that "Good teaching requires continual application and effort. Faculty who teach are expected to keep abreast of new developments in their fields and must maintain credentials as scholars so that they are part of the creative process by which the frontiers of knowledge and culture are continually being expanded. A teacher should be engaged with his/her particular discipline and should be able to convey to the students the value of the subject."

It is notable that these policies are significantly more stringent in outlining appropriate professorial conduct in the classroom than is Kansas House Concurrent Resolution No. 5035 which states that "faculty members will not use their courses or their positions for the purpose of political, ideological, religious or antireligious indoctrination."

While the academic freedom policies outlined for faculty and staff are fairly comprehensive, those published for the benefits of students are vague by comparison and lack clarity in describing the standard of behavior students should expect from their professors.

For instance, the Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities states that "Free inquiry, expression, and assembly are guaranteed to all students" and that "students are free to pursue their educational goals" but does not make any explicit mention of the protection from being forced to compromise their political views or of the professional standards which prohibit professors from using their classrooms to discuss controversial topics beyond the subject of study.

Even the explicit policy on "harassment of discrimination" does not mention political views although it does mention "sex, race, color, national origin, religion, ancestry, sexual orientation, disability, or, as specified by law, age, or veteran status, marital or parental status."

Recommendations:

We would recommend that the faculty policies forbidding the persistent introduction of irrelevant controversial material in the classroom and preventing professor from forcing political actions on students be formulated as student rights and included in the Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities. We would further recommend that the student grievance policy be amended to explicitly state that students have the right to file a grievance when their professors persistently introduce controversial material in the classroom that is irrelevant to the subject of the course or otherwise violate students' academic freedom.

 

Additionally, we suggest that the university make explicit the need for faculty to present a spectrum of "significant scholarly viewpoints" on the subjects they teach, which accords with the guidelines recently endorsed by the American Council on Education and 27 additional higher education organizations calling for "intellectual pluralism and the free exchange of ideas" on university campuses.

Kansas State University:

Policies:

University Handbook, Appendix C: Academic Freedom and Tenure

Link: http://www.k-state.edu/academicservices/fhbook/fhxc.html

Academic Freedom and Tenure (1940 Statement of Principles)

In 1940, following a series of joint conferences begun in 1934, representatives of the American Association of University Professors and of the Association of American Colleges agreed upon a restatement of principles set forth in the 1925 Conference Statement of Academic Freedom and Tenure. This restatement, known to the profession as the 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure, has been endorsed by most educational and professional academic organizations, such as the American Council on Education and the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges, in which Kansas State University holds membership.

The purpose of this statement is to promote public understanding and support of academic freedom and tenure and agreement upon procedures to assure them in colleges and universities. Institutions of higher education are conducted for the common good and not to further the interest of either the individual teacher or the institution as a whole. The common good depends upon the free search for truth and its free exposition.

Academic freedom is essential to these purposes and applies to both teaching and research. Freedom in research is fundamental to the advancement of truth. Academic freedom in its teaching aspect is fundamental for the protection of the rights of the teacher in teaching and of the student to freedom in learning. It carries with it duties correlative with rights.

Tenure is a means to certain ends, specifically: (1) freedom of teaching and research and of extramural activities, and (2) a sufficient degree of economic security to make the profession attractive to men and women of ability. Freedom and economic security, hence tenure, are indispensable to the success of an institution in fulfilling its obligations to its students and to society.

Academic Freedom

  1. Teachers are entitled to full freedom in research and in the publication of the results, subject to the adequate performance of their other academic duties; but research for pecuniary return should be based upon an understanding with the authorities of the institution.
  2. Teachers are entitled to freedom in the classroom in discussing their subjects, but they should be careful not to introduce into teaching controversial matter which has no relation to the subject. Limitations of academic freedom because of religious or other aims of the institution should be clearly stated in writing at the time of the appointment.
  3. College or university teachers are citizens, members of a learned profession, and officers of an educational institution. When they speak or write as citizens, they should be free from institutional censorship or discipline, but their special position in the community imposes special obligations. As persons of learning and as educational officers, they should remember that the public may judge their profession and their institution by their utterances. Hence they should at all times be accurate, should exercise appropriate restraint, should show respect for the opinions of others, and should make every effort to indicate that they are not institutional spokespeople.

[Emphasis added].

KSU FACULTY HANDBOOK; 1984; 1988, P. 53.
Cited by the website of the Kansas State Center for Teaching and Learning

Link: http://www.k-state.edu/catl/freedom.htm

ACADEMIC FREEDOM

Teachers are entitled to full freedom in research and in the publication of the results, subject to the adequate performance of their other academic duties; but research for pecuniary return should be based upon an understanding with the authorities of the institution.

Teachers are entitled to freedom in the classroom in discussing their subjects, but they should be careful not to introduce into teaching controversial matter which has no relation to the subject. Limitations of academic freedom because of religious or other aims of the institution should be clearly stated in writing at the time of the appointment.

College or university teachers are citizens, members of a learned profession, and officers of an educational institution. When they speak or write as citizens, they should be free from institutional censorship or discipline, but their special position in the community imposes special obligations. As persons of learning and as educational officers, they should remember that the public may judge their profession and their institution by their utterances. Hence they should at all times be accurate, should exercise appropriate restraint, should show respect for the opinions of others, and should make every effort to indicate that they are not institutional spokespeople.

"1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure," American Association of University Professors.

[Emphasis added].

KSU POLICIES AND PROCEDURES MANUAL

.020 Policy for Discrimination and Harassment Complaints

Link: http://www.k-state.edu/policies/ppm/1020.html

Kansas State University will maintain academic and work environments that are free of discrimination, racial/ethnic harassment, sexual harassment and retaliation for filing a complaint under this policy. Discrimination based on race, ethnic or national origin, sex, sexual orientation, religion, age, ancestry, disability, military status, or veteran status is prohibited. Retaliation against a person for reporting or objecting to discrimination or harassment is a violation of this policy whether or not discrimination, racial/ethnic harassment or sexual harassment occurred. Persons who violate this policy are subject to disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal from employment or expulsion from the University. Supervisors and administrators are obligated to report complaints to the Office Of Affirmative Action, to keep complaints confidential, to protect the privacy of all parties involved in a complaint and to prevent or eliminate discrimination, harassment or retaliation; failure to do so is a violation of this policy. Appropriate sanctions and remedial actions will be taken. This policy is not intended and will not be used to infringe on academic freedom, or to censor or punish students, faculty, employees, or staff who exercise their First Amendment right to express ideas and opinions on any topic.

Complaints must be filed within one year of the alleged behavior, are confidential and will not be disclosed to anyone who does not have a need to know. The University cannot guarantee complainants, respondents or witnesses absolute confidentiality because the University is obligated to investigate complaints. A responsible administrator and a representative of the Office of Affirmative Action will evaluate each complaint and, if necessary conduct a prompt, thorough and fair administrative review. The time required for reviews may vary, but the goal is to complete reviews as expeditiously as possible.

Any person who knowingly files a false complaint, or who knowingly provides false or misleading information is subject to disciplinary action. No action will be taken against an individual who makes a good faith complaint, even if the allegations are not substantiated.

[Emphasis added].

Analysis:

The policies of the Kansas State University accord with the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) guidelines and quote them directly in stating that professors should avoid persistently introducing into their teaching controversial material which is irrelevant to the subject of their courses.

 

KSU's policies on discrimination and harassment note that "Kansas State University will maintain academic and work environments that are free of discrimination, racial/ethnic harassment, sexual harassment and retaliation for filing a complaint under this policy. Discrimination based on race, ethnic or national origin, sex, sexual orientation, religion, age, ancestry, disability, military status, or veteran status is prohibited" but this policy notably omits any mention of political beliefs or affiliation, and thus does not apply to situations where faculty or students are being abused for such beliefs.

 

The policy on academic freedom from the University Handbook highlights the importance of protecting the academic freedom not only of professors but also of students, stating "Academic freedom in its teaching aspect is fundamental for the protection of the rights of the teacher in teaching and of the student to freedom in learning. It carries with it duties correlative with rights."

 

Despite this specific reference to the importance of protecting students' academic freedom, KSU's policies are highly deficient in this regard. Searching on the main KSU website for references to students' academic freedom and students' rights brought up a link to a policy on "Student Rights & Responsibilities," but the link for this policy led only to an error message-a dead end for any student trying to determine his or her rights. (http://www.ksu.edu/osas/pdf/2003-04%20handbook.pdf)

 

Searching through the "Students" section of the K-State.edu website for information on academic freedom was similarly frustrating. It is not among the main topics listed on the site. The closest thing we could discover was the Registrar's Office page which contains links to "Academic Policies and Procedures" but academic freedom is not among the topics listed and one has to click through several sections to even find these policies (http://www.k-state.edu/registrar/a_r/).

Recommendations:

We would recommend that the faculty policies forbidding the persistent introduction of irrelevant controversial material in the classroom and preventing professor from forcing political actions on students be formulated as student rights and included in the Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities, which should be made available directly from the student section of the K-State website. We would further recommend that the student grievance policy be amended to explicitly state that students have the right to file a grievance when their professors persistently introduce controversial material in the classroom that is irrelevant to the subject of the course or otherwise violate students' academic freedom.

 

Additionally, we suggest that the university adopt a policy noting the importance of intellectual diversity in academia and highlighting the need for faculty to present a spectrum of "significant scholarly viewpoints" on the subjects they teach, which accords with the guidelines recently endorsed by the American Council on Education and 27 additional higher education organizations calling for "intellectual pluralism and the free exchange of ideas" on university campuses.