After the University of Arizona (UA) terminated its contract with researcher Suzanne Sisley, 17 Senators and Representatives from the Arizona State Legislature wrote to UA’s president and board of trustees in defense of Sisley, urging the university to reinstate a planned medicinal marijuana study under her direction.
Torch readers will remember FIRE’s coverage and August 1 letter to UA regarding the termination of Sisley, who had secured federal approval to study the therapeutic effects of marijuana for military veterans suffering post traumatic stress disorder. Sisley argues that UA retaliated against her over concerns about her alleged political activities in support of her research.
If the decision to terminate Sisley’s contract was in response to her political actions as a private citizen or to the controversial nature of her research, UA would be guilty of an egregious violation of Sisley’s free speech rights.
In their August 8 letter to UA, the legislators expressed disappointment at Sisley’s firing and concern over the “intervening consequences this will have on the important research being pursued by the University of Arizona.” Because of the politically controversial nature of Sisley’s research, they are right to be worried about the future of research at UA. Sisley’s termination may very well have a chilling effect on other professors who fear the repercussions of their own controversial research or political activities.
FIRE commends the legislators’ defense of Sisley’s rights and the academic freedom of all Arizona faculty.