Press Release

Academic Freedom and Fight Against Hatred and Bigotry on Campus Go Hand in Hand

Higher Education Leaders Unite to Stop Antisemitism and Islamophobia and Preserve Freedom of Expression, Partner with Faculty First Responders to Help Targeted Members

For Release:


Andrew Crook
o: 202-393-8637 | c: 607-280-6603

WASHINGTON—American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, Alabama State University professor Derryn E. Moten, University Council-AFT President Katie Rodger, Professional Staff Congress of the City University of New York President James Davis, and Henry Ford Community College Federation of Teachers President Eric Rader issued the following joint statement as attacks on faculty freedoms and students’ identity continue to roil campuses:

“We do not accept the toxic rhetoric that pits standing up to antisemitism and Islamophobia against the fight to preserve academic freedom and the free speech rights of students, faculty and staff. We can and must do both. Conditioning job offers on one’s views of this conflict is wrong. Doxxing is wrong. Threatening the jobs of employees who are exercising their free speech rights is wrong. Limiting debate and freedom of expression is wrong. Terrorizing Jewish or Muslim staff or students because of their religion is wrong.

“Our two- and four-year colleges and universities must promote intellectual freedom and free speech. This is an essential role of higher education in a democracy. Our institutions have an obligation to keep students and employees safe and to stand up against bigotry—and they must honor it.

“The AFT will continue to defend our members’ and students’ academic freedom and First Amendment rights while at the same time protecting their right to a safe environment free of antisemitism, Islamophobia and other forms of hate.”

The 1.7 million-member AFT represents 70 percent of the organized higher education faculty in the United States. On Nov. 9, the union passed a resolution, Condemning Hate and Affirming Freedom of Speech on Campus.” As we move into 2024, we are stepping up our efforts to provide our members and the campus community with the tools they need to do both, including by partnering with Faculty First Responders to develop resources to support our affiliates and members.

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The AFT represents 1.7 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.