An important column by FIRE Program Officer Charles Mitchell appears today in the Harrisburg Patriot-News. In response to Rep. Dan Surra’s comment that the Pennsylvania Legislature’s Select Committee on Student Academic Freedom, a committee on which Surra serves, is a “colossal waste of time,” Charles argues for the necessity of the committee. He highlights three Pennsylvania public institutions with unconstitutional speech codes, including Penn State, Surra’s alma mater.
Policies like Penn State’s, Lincoln’s and IUP’s are widespread at Pennsylvania’s public universities. That makes one wonder why Surra thinks a committee investigating violations of academic freedom is such a waste of time.
There is nothing liberal, conservative or otherwise about making sure that Pennsylvania’s public universities stop sticking the First Amendment in the nearest paper shredder.The sooner the academic establishment and its allies in the Legislature realize that, the sooner we can have some real reform. Anything less ought to be considered a scandal in the state where the Constitution was written and the Liberty Bell still resides.
The committee meets for its next two-day hearing on Monday, January 9, and Tuesday, January 10, at Temple University in Philadelphia.