Free Speech and Peaceful Protest Under Threat on U.S. College Campuses, AAUP Warns

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The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) and its chapters are sounding the alarm over what they see as a growing assault on the rights to free speech and peaceful protest at colleges and universities across the United States. In a statement released and endorsed by over 60 AAUP chapters and other organizations, the AAUP condemns many university administrations’ “heavy-handed, militaristic response” to largely peaceful student activism in recent months.

The statement argues that even as protests and counter-protests have escalated on campuses this fall, the response by many institutional leaders has been to “invite law enforcement in riot gear to campus and condone violent arrests.” The AAUP calls this a failure of university leaders’ “duty to their institutions, their faculty, their students, and their central obligation to our democratic society.”

“When university administrators limit when, where, and how free speech may be exercised, and require advanced applications for permission of such expression, they effectively gut the right itself,” the statement reads. “To insist that harsh discipline and violent repression are necessary to combat hate on a college campus is a pretext to suppress protest and silence speech.”

The AAUP points to what it calls “shameless exertion of pressure on university leaders by the nation’s politicians, by the universities’ most powerful donors, and by other interest groups,” and criticizes institutional leaders for “abandoning long-standing principles of academic freedom and shared governance.”

The organization is calling on university leaders to “reinstate student organizations shut down in recent months for political activity, to drop charges against peaceful protesters, to observe due process in disciplinary actions, to keep armed law enforcement off campuses, and to uphold fundamental freedoms for students and faculty.”

“The way forward is through education and dialogue, not through zip-ties and fear-mongering,” the statement concludes. The AAUP says it stands with its members nationwide “who are defending free speech, the right of assembly, and associational rights for students.”

The statement reflects growing concerns among many in academia that the heated political climate and increasingly polarized debates around issues of free speech, diversity and inclusion on campus are leading to a crackdown on legitimate protest and dissent. As the country heads into a presidential election year, the AAUP’s call to protect free speech and peaceful demonstration at colleges and universities is likely to resonate both on and off campus.

DAMON K JONES
DAMON K JONEShttps://damonkjones.com
A multifaceted personality, Damon is an activist, author, and the force behind Black Westchester Magazine, a notable Black-owned newspaper based in Westchester County, New York. With a wide array of expertise, he wears many hats, including that of a Spiritual Life Coach, Couples and Family Therapy Coach, and Holistic Health Practitioner. He is well-versed in Mental Health First Aid, Dietary and Nutritional Counseling, and has significant insights as a Vegan and Vegetarian Nutrition Life Coach. Not just limited to the world of holistic health and activism, Damon brings with him a rich 32-year experience as a Law Enforcement Practitioner and stands as the New York Representative of Blacks in Law Enforcement of America.

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