On the heels of the announcement this morning of a FIRE-sponsored lawsuit by fired Louisiana State University (LSU) professor Teresa Buchanan against top LSU administrators, the LSU Faculty Senate will introduce a resolution to adopt a version of the “Chicago Principles” affirming the faculty’s commitment to free speech. The resolution will be introduced this afternoon at the senate’s regularly scheduled meeting, at 3 p.m. CST in the LSU student union.
A full vote on the motion will take place on February 22.
If passed, the resolution would represent the Faculty Senate’s strongest statement to date on the centrality of academic freedom at LSU.
In March of last year, a faculty committee unanimously urged the university not to fire Buchanan, a renowned early-childhood education professor, for her alleged occasional use of profanity and sexual language as a pedagogical tool in her college classroom. Buchanan said her teaching techniques were part of a conscious effort to prepare student teachers for the real world challenges they would face in Louisiana’s struggling public schools.
LSU ignored the faculty recommendation, deemed Buchanan’s language “sexual harassment,” and fired her.
The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) also censured LSU for a second time over Buchanan’s firing. The AAUP already had censured LSU had for another matter, making it one of only seven universities in the last one hundred years to have been censured twice by the AAUP.
The Faculty Senate later took the extraordinary step of censuring President F. King Alexander, Provost Stuart Bell, and Dean Damon Andrew of the College of Human Sciences and Education for terminating Buchanan. They also demanded her reinstatement. The Faculty Senate made its decision to censure the LSU administration in part because it applied “confusing, dangerous, and untenable standards” to Buchanan. The language of the censure was grave, calling the standard under which Professor Buchanan was terminated “as chilling in its breadth and ambiguity as it is absurd in its apparent connection to sexual harassment.”
To date, other schools to have adopted a version of the “Chicago Principles” are: Princeton University, Purdue University, Johns Hopkins University, American University, Chapman University, Winston-Salem State University, the University of Wisconsin System, and the University of Virginia College at Wise.
FIRE commends LSU’s Faculty Senate for taking this important step toward securing civil rights for LSU faculty and students.