Bridgewater State University: Proposed Changes to Institutional Review Board and Faculty Evaluation Policies

Category: Freedom of Conscience
Schools: Bridgewater State University

In February 2021, a Bridgewater State University student tweeted a screenshot of a hypothetical question from a research survey that negatively portrayed Black Lives Matter. The purpose of the survey was to examine how the language used to frame an issue affects perceptions and decision-making. The screenshot sparked an outcry, and in response, BSU’s Racial Justice Task Force proposed various changes to faculty evaluation criteria and to the university’s Institutional Review Board to incorporate “anti-racist evaluative tools” into the board’s research-approval process. FIRE wrote to BSU on July 16 and August 25, calling on the university to reject or modify the proposals, which would violate academic freedom by subjecting research and teaching to ideological constraints. BSU did not respond to FIRE’s letters, but as of August 2022, the university had not adopted any of the challenged task force recommendations.