Free Exchange Resources

In a democratic society, colleges and universities play an essential role in ensuring vigorous debate on important matters. This free exchange of ideas is vital to civic participation, whether through educationally appropriate classroom discussions, extracurricular campus events or protests on the quad. Higher education faculty and staff have important roles to play in maintaining our college campuses as sites for difficult, passionate conversations about the issues that shape our world. At the same time, it is incumbent upon all members of the campus community to ensure that these exchanges do not devolve into intimidation or racially, politically or religiously motivated attacks or threats of violence. It is more important than ever to provide a safe learning environment where difficult discussions and debates can happen and where free speech on campus is protected from attacks by all, including campus administrators, well-heeled donors, unscrupulous politicians and off-campus extremists.

To help our members navigate these challenges, the AFT has assembled resources to address the following questions:

  • What is appropriate to discuss in our classrooms, and how can we ensure that classroom discussions are open and productive?
  • What role can faculty, staff and administrators play in ensuring that extracurricular campus programming, including guest speakers, are moments where uncomfortable conversations can occur while respecting everyone’s right to free speech?
  • How can we maintain a campus environment free of intimidation and threats of violence, where every member of the campus community feels like they can speak out publicly about matters of public importance?