University of Texas at Austin: Dismissal of Teaching Assistants for Discussing Mental Health in “Women & Madness” Class


University of Texas at Austin

Search all Cases

Case Overview

On November 16, 2023, two University of Texas at Austin graduate students sent to members of their Women & Madness course—which focused on exploring the role of gender in the development of mental health resources—a message via the Canvas learning management system to acknowledge “mental health implications of the current escalation of violence in Gaza,” and to share campus mental health resources. Within a week UT Austin dismissed them from their teaching assignments for “an unprompted message about the war in Israel,” which the school deemed “inappropriate” because Canvas is “a medium reserved for university and class-related messages.” On December 20, FIRE wrote UT Austin explaining that instructors have the academic freedom to discuss pedagogically relevant issues with their classes, and calling on the university to reinstate their teaching positions for the spring 2024 semester.