Occidental College: Faculty Council Considers Resolution Threatening the Academic Freedom and Freedom of Conscience of Whole Faculty

Category: Free Speech
Schools: Occidental College

In response to student protests on campus, Occidental College’s Faculty Council will soon vote on a resolution—dubbed a “Plan of Action”—that threatens the rights of free speech, academic freedom, and freedom of conscience of all faculty. The resolution states that the faculty “recognize[s] that the structural racism and other forms of oppression of the College violate our commitment to ensuring equity and excellence in our educational programs for all of our students.” While the overarching goals proposed by this preamble are undoubtedly agreeable to many faculty members, the resolution goes on to propose mandates that threaten to compel professors’ adherence to a particular politicized ideology in their teaching, thinking, and scholarship. These provisions include, among others, mandatory diversity training for faculty and a requirement that professors “incorporate issues of cultural and racial identity and diversity” into their curricula (presumably regardless of the subject taught). Most worrying of all is the call to establish an “effective mechanism for students to address and report microaggressions or other conflicts between students and faculty.” Creating such a system will inevitably encourage faculty to self-censor, especially on difficult or controversial topics, for fear of uttering something subjectively offensive to a student, possibly resulting in investigation and discipline.

FIRE wrote to the Faculty Council on November 24, 2015, urging the council to reject the resolution as a threat to their fundamental rights.

  • Occidental Faculty Weighs System for Reports of Microaggressions

    November 24, 2015

    By Peter Schmidt at The Chronicle of Higher Education  Occidental College faculty members are considering the creation of a formal system to let students report them for microaggressions, according to a document first obtained by the Reason Foundation, a libertarian advocacy group. … Read more here.

    » Read More

  • Black student at Occidental Charges Conservatives not Protesting are ‘Marginalized’ and Bullied

    November 22, 2015

    By Kelly Ledbetter at Christian Examiner LOS ANGELES (Christian Examiner) – A black conservative collegian said he has been ostracised by former friends and marginalized for not supporting activist groups on campus who have said racial bias exists at Occidential College and have demanded the resignation of the school’s president. “They’re doing what they claim white people do to us, which is marginalize us and cast us as the bad guy,” Alton Luke II told the Los Angeles Times Friday. “You can’t have a different opinion here or you’re persecuted. But I’m standing against their tyrannical and unjustified actions.” Students ending […]

    » Read More

  • Reason TV Interviews Occidental College Students About Microaggressions, Support for Free Speech

    December 9, 2015

    In the wake of student protests centered on campus racism, students have issued demands—and some college faculty are eager to expand on them with a new speech-monitoring reporting system. Occidental College, which FIRE has written about before, is now considering implementing a formal system for students to report “microaggressions” they claim to have experienced on campus. According to the draft plan, faculty recognize the “power imbalance” between themselves and students and believe a reporting system is a “substantive action” Occidental can take to meet student protesters’ demands. Reason TV visited Occidental College to find out from students what exactly they […]

    » Read More

  • FIRE Warns Occidental Against Proposal to Create ‘Institutional Orthodoxy’

    November 25, 2015

    In a letter sent yesterday, FIRE urged the faculty governance board at Occidental College to reconsider a resolution that, if implemented, would seriously harm the free speech, academic freedom, and freedom of conscience rights of Occidental’s faculty. The draft resolution, proposed by the college’s Faculty Council and scheduled for an intra-council vote on December 1, calls for “widespread institutional change in the culture of the College” in response to protests over racial inequality that have swept college campuses across the country. However, in his letter to the council’s president, Professor Anthony Chase, FIRE’s Director of the Individual Rights Defense Program, […]

    » Read More