Brown Undergraduate Council Passes Academic Freedom Resolution · 21 April 2004

By Krista Hachey--Brown Daily Herald, 04/22/04

At Wednesday's Undergraduate Council of Students meeting - the last of the semester - members passed a resolution on academic freedom and gave follow-up briefings on campus climate, storage, parking and long-term infrastructure improvements.

UCS unanimously passed the Resolution on Academic Freedom, brought forward last week by Stephen Beale '04, representing Students for Academic Freedom, the Brown Spectator, Students for Liberty, the College Republicans and Young Americans for Freedom.

Beale and the resolution's cosponsors made changes to the resolution in light of discussion at last week's UCS meeting. He said he made the changes because the "goal of the resolution is to move this campus forward."

Responding to concerns that the resolution might convey a discouragement of students' right to protest speakers, Beale, with the aid of involved student groups, modified one point in the resolution. As introduced Wednesday, the statement read: "The obstruction of invited campus speakers, destruction of campus literature or any other effort to inhibit the civil exchange of ideas should not be tolerated. Protests that do not prevent access to speakers, events, or publications should be permitted."

Admissions and Student Services Chair Sonia Gupta '06 said the statement should be less specific. Gupta said she supported the condemnation of violent action on campus but that the revised statement could apply to other forms of preventive protest that may have a rightful place in the expression of political and social views.

"I wouldn't think that stealing newspapers is the best thing to do," she said, adding that she would not encourage such an action. "But it is civil disobedience."

Ultimately, the qualifying second line was struck and replaced with "Protests should otherwise be permitted," as suggested by Appointments Chair Luke Meier '04. This change was meant to address Gupta's desire to see a statement that "is proactive without getting into specifics."