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Faculty Rights Tip of the Week: Our Right to Academic Freedom

Our 2014-21 Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) states, in the preamble, “The CSU shall support the pursuit of excellence and academic freedom in teaching, research, and learning through the free exchange of ideas among the faculty, students, and staff.”

CFA has a record of defending faculty members’ rights to enjoy academic freedom within the CSU, and one of standing with non-CSU faculty around the country, too, in defense of their rights to academic freedom. If you feel that your academic freedom is being infringed upon, curtailed, or violated, please immediately contact your faculty rights representative to discuss what you are experiencing.

CFA opposes the recent Trump administration decision to cancel anti-racism trainings within federal agencies that address white privilege and employ critical race theory. As a result of this executive order, some faculty are understandably concerned that, as public university employees, we will be unable to teach the subject matter of, and relating to, critical race theory that we were hired to do.

Our affiliate, the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), has responded, publishing a “Statement on President Trump’s Attack on Critical Race Theory” (September 9). In it, AAUP President Irene Mulvey notes that, “Critical race theory represents an important body of … expertise and President Trump’s recent attack on it is a naked attempt to politicize our national reckoning with racism and a new escalation in the assault on expert knowledge.” (CFA members are eligible for a free membership with AAUP.)

On October 7, the CSU Chancellor’s Office issued a statement in response to the Trump administration’s order, noting that there remains “considerable uncertainty relative to this Executive Order.” The CSU’s statement says further that, “Language in the Executive Order concerning academic freedom suggests it may not impact curriculum, although this is not entirely clear.”

CFA, however, is clear: we will defend the rights to any faculty member to exercise their expertise and their academic freedom, in the classroom, among colleagues, and beyond. CFA will also continue to offer our “Interrupting Racism” trainings on campuses. Get in touch with your campus CFA chapter leadership here to find out when the next (Zoom) workshop will be offered.

Want to learn more? Become active with your local CFA chapter Faculty Rights team. Find your representative here.