AAUP calls campus free speech bills a right-wing conspiracy

The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) is urging its thousands of members to challenge campus free speech legislation, which it calls “problematic” and “unnecessary.” 

The AAUP—by far the largest membership group of college professors in the United States, with more than 500 campus chapters—takes aim at the ongoing trend in its new campaign against “unnecessary ‘free-speech’ legislation,” which is part of a larger "One Faculty, One Resistance" effort through which the AAUP hopes to rally opposition to conservative initiatives in higher education.

While bills to support free speech vary by state, the AAUP worries that common features include forbidding the cancellation of controversial speakers and requiring schools to educate students on First Amendment rights during orientation.

[RELATED: Louisiana gov reverses course, signs campus free speech bill]

Framing free speech legislation as a “right-wing” conspiracy, the AAUP also complains that such bills often establish mandatory minimum penalties for students who are repeatedly found guilty of infringing on others’ free speech, as well as allowing students to sue if their First Amendment rights have been trampled. 

“Campus free-speech legislation is one piece of a much larger well-funded, right-wing effort to disempower public higher education in the United States,” the AAUP tells members in a primer on the subject. 

The campaign also encourages professors to call their state legislators, providing a template script calling the campus free speech initiative a “solution in search of a problem” that ultimately “distracts from critical campus issues of health, safety, and equity.” 

[RELATED: Heritage promotes Goldwater bill to protect free speech on campus]

The campaign was announced by AAUP Political Organizer Monica Owens in a recent Facebook Live video. While Owens doesn’t exactly express any qualms with free speech itself, she does warn that free speech is a “conservative” effort. 

“So, why are these bills so problematic?” Owens asks, answering that there are “provisions in these bills that require minimum penalties for the impingement of other’s free speech.” 

For students who shout down speakers or otherwise prevent them from talking, the

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SJP warns Tulane not to collaborate with Israeli universities

Students for Justice in Palestine is demanding that Tulane University forego opportunities to collaborate with Israeli universities, saying the partnerships would alienate Muslim and Palestinian students.

The demand comes in response to Tulane President Mike Fitts’ recent visit to Israel, which was described in a June media announcement as an attempt “to learn about technological innovation and boost bilateral academic research and exchange opportunities” with four Israeli universities.

[RELATED: More than 50 NYU groups pledge to boycott Israel]

After visiting with administrators from Bar Ilan University, Ben Gurion University, Tel Aviv University, and the Technion, Fitts and 16 other American college presidents also traveled to the Palestinian Authority to meet with “Palestinian experts on society, higher education, and entrepreneurship.”

Fitts described the trip abroad as “an exciting opportunity to explore ways in which Tulane can collaborate with Israeli universities and other institutions around the world to address long standing societal problems in the environment, healthcare, energy, and numerous other areas.”

In a letter to the editor of The Tulane Hullabaloo, however, Tulane’s SJP chapter excoriated Fitts for the trip, calling the partnerships with Israeli universities “a hypocrisy of Tulanian values and a regressive step away from expanding diversity among our student body.”

SJP’s letter depicts the Israeli universities as active collaborators in what they referred to as the “racialized oppression” of Palestine, noting for instance that the Technion developed a bulldozer for the Israeli armed forces.

[RELATED: Anti-Israel activists aggressively disrupt UCLA panel]

“Recently, the Tulane Office of Undergraduate Admissions has emphasized its commitment to increasing the diversity of our student body, but Tulane’s partnership with universities who support racist and Islamophobic violence will further dissuade Muslim and Palestinian students from attending,” the group argues, scoffing that “When Tulane hopes for a more diverse student population, it is evident that they do not imagine Muslim and Palestinian students in this picture.”

The letter does mention Fitts’ visit to the Palestinian Authority, but dismisses it as inconsequential, noting that the trip agenda

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Portland State seeking prof with commitment to abortion rights

Portland State University is hiring a professor to teach classes on “reproductive justice” and “social justice activism,” yet bizarrely denies that the new hire would be required to support abortion rights. 

Unlike more widespread social movements such as feminism or environmentalism, reproductive justice is a specific ideology birthed from foundational texts and a foundational person, Loretta Ross, who is now a professor at Hampshire College. 

According to SisterSong—the nonprofit that Ross co-founded in 1997—reproductive justice refers to women's right to “personal bodily autonomy, have children, not have children, and parent the children we have in safe and sustainable communities.” 

[RELATED: ‘Reproductive justice’ scholar admits abortion is key concern]

While access to birth control and sex education are among the many concerns of Sistersong, the group notes that “access [to abortion], not choice” is its key concern. 

“Mainstream movements have focused on keeping abortion legal as an individual choice. That is necessary, but not enough,” asserts SisterSong’s website, which goes on to call for the opening of more abortion clinics in order to make it easier for women to procure abortions.

Last week, the PSU Women’s Studies department published a job listing seeking to hire a professor who is also a “practitioner of feminist activism…with particular attention to women of color feminisms, reproductive justice, and community-engaged learning.”

“The department especially values candidates whose teaching, community engagement, and scholarship theorize from lived experience, and whose pedagogy is rooted in intersectional feminist praxis,” the department adds.

[RELATED: University to host panel on ‘reproductive justice’ activism]

Strangely, despite requiring that the new professor be a reproductive justice activist, the department denied that the new hire would be required to support abortion rights. 

“The job posting does not indicate that applicants must have viewpoints of any kind,” Department Chair Dr. Winston Grady-Willis told Campus Reform. 

“There is no mention of abortion in the posting. That's why it says reproductive justice, not abortion rights,” added university spok

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Conservatives win free speech fight against UMass Amherst

The University of Massachusetts-Amherst has agreed to lift restrictions on the location and duration of speech, ending a legal fight with conservative students. 

As previously reported by Campus Reform, Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) objected to a provision of the school’s land use policy, which stipulated that “outdoor speeches and rallies during class hours may be held only on the -west side (main entrance) of the Student Union Building, and shall be limited to one (1) hour in length, from noon to 1:00 P.M.”

[RELATED: UMass-Amherst sued for limiting free speech to 1 hour per day] 

The Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a legal group representing YAL in court, announced the policy change in a press release late last month, noting that the lawsuit has been dropped in light of the development.

“In response to a student group’s lawsuit, University of Massachusetts Amherst has eliminated its highly restrictive speech policy that limited all ‘speeches and rallies’ to less than one percent of campus and only between noon and 1 p.m. each day,” ADF wrote. “In light of the changes made by the Board of Trustees as part of a preliminary settlement, Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing the campus chapter of Young Americans for Liberty and student Nicholas Consolini voluntarily dismissed their lawsuit.”

Notably, university officials have previously defended the school’s controversial policy, arguing that the provision does not violate constitutional law.

“The University’s policies regarding such events are in accordance with the United States Supreme Court’s longstanding acceptance of content-neutral restrictions on the time, place, and manner of such speech,” UMass Amherst spokesman Ed Blaguszewski told The Daily Collegian in January.

“These policies provide a substantial opportunity for public speech while allowing the campus community to continue to conduct academic, business, and other activities.” Blaguszewski added, referencing the school’s policies. “We are proud of our community’s tradition of activism and we support it.” 

[RELATED: Instructor who assaulted student cries ‘emotional distress’]

According to the Foundation of Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), UMass Amherst currently has a “yellow

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Activists protest ICE grant for data on weapons trafficking

Activists are protesting Northeastern University’s multi-million dollar research contract with ICE, calling the affiliation “irresponsible and immoral.”

NU students and independent activists are organizing a protest on Wednesday to demand the university cut all ties with U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, a government organization they believe is “immoral.”

[RELATED: Antifa calls NYU prof a ‘hero’ for doxxing ICE employees]

NU’s contract with ICE to study “Exploratory Methods Mapping” (EMM), which is designed to track or map large data sets over a geographic area, began in September 2016 and runs until August 2021.

The contract’s total “potential award amount” at the end of the nearly five-year contract is $7,758,040, of which the university has already received $2,711,012.

A petition protesting the contract, which had been signed by nearly 2,000 people as of press time, declares that “having any kind of contract with ICE at this moment in history is irresponsible and immoral,” demanding that Northeastern “immediately end all contracts with ICE.”

[RELATED: Berkeley students panic after ICE vehicle spotted on campus]

The protest and petition were started in part by Evan Greer, deputy director of “Fight for the Future,” an organization “dedicated to protecting and expanding the Internet’s transformative power.”

“The US government is tearing families apart. Children have been kept in cages,” the petition reads. “There is more evidence every day that ICE is engaged in widespread human rights violations. And Northeastern University is helping them.”

The form letter also claims that while EMM technology is intended to help combat weapons trafficking, it “could just as easily be used to expand mass surveillance of immigrants and communities of color” and give ICE a method to track illegal immigrants for deportation.

[RELATED: School issues warning about ‘rumors’ of ICE agents on campus]

NU Vice President of Communications Renata Nyul, however, told Campus Reform that such fears are unfounded, explaining that the research grant was “obtained by a Northeastern University professor” who has been studying “data related to the import and export of weapons of mass destruction.”

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