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?
- FAQ: Campus Free Speech/Academic Freedom in Politically Charged Times (2024)
- Academic Freedom and Fight Against Hatred and Bigotry on Campus Go Hand in Hand (2023)
- AFT resolution: "Condemning Hate and Affirming Freedom of Speech on Campus" (2023)
- American Association of University Professors statement: "Academic Freedom in Times of War" (2023)
- White House fact sheet: “Biden-Harris Administration Takes Action to Address Alarming Rise of Reported Antisemitic and Islamophobic Events at Schools and on College Campuses” (2023)
- Faculty First Responders: "Resources for Higher Education Workers"
- Faculty First Responders: "Resources for Administrators"
- PEN America: Campus Free Speech Resources
- DRAFT white paper: Sunstein, Cass R., Free Speech On Campus? Thirty-Seven Questions (and Almost As Many Answers) (December 23, 2023)