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Amid faculty objections, UC considers limiting what faculty can say on university websites

Amid faculty objections, UC considers limiting what faculty can say on university websites


Michael Burke
March 14, 2024
In a move faculty say infringes on their academic freedom, the University of California will soon consider a policy restricting them from using university websites to make opinionated statements. Such statements have come under scrutiny since last fall, when some faculty publicly criticized Israel over its war in Gaza.
The proposed policy, which goes to the system’s board of regents for a vote next week, would prevent faculty and staff from sharing their “personal or collective opinions” via the “main landing page” or homepages of department websites, according to a new draft of the policy. Faculty would be free to share opinions elsewhere on the university’s websites, so long as there is a disclaimer that their viewpoint doesn’t represent the university or their department.
The final version of the policy may not be complete until next week. Regents accepted feedback from the university’s Academic Senate through Friday. Following a systemwide review, the Senate is asking the system’s board of regents to reject a proposal to limit the ability of faculty departments to share opinions on university websites.
Whatever the final version says, the fact that regents are considering the issue at all is alarming to some UC faculty. They argue that issues of academic freedom are outside the purview of the regents and question how the university would enforce the policy. And although the policy doesn’t explicitly mention a specific issue, faculty see it as an attempt to prevent them from discussing Israel’s war in Gaza.
“At a moment when across the country, academic freedom is being challenged, we’re worried that the regents have lost their way on this issue,” said James Vernon, a professor of history at UC Berkeley and chair of the Berkeley Faculty Association. “I think it’s out of their purview, and I think they’re doing it for very obvious reasons. It’s about Palestine and the political positions of some regents.”
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