Take a stand for ‘truth, learning, and the university’

CFA President Jennifer Eagan’s comments to the CSU Trustees and CSU campus presidents about academic freedom in this troubling new era

Good morning, I’m Jennifer Eagan, President of the California Faculty Association and Professor of Philosophy and Public Affairs & Administration at Cal State East Bay.

My colleagues and I are proud to stand behind Eric Canin today. We want to thank you for your bravery in coming here today and speaking publically.

We live in a troubling new world where the truth is called fake, dissent is being criminalized, and the right is targeting colleges, universities, and university professors.

Most of us on the faculty are pretty far from being like fictional academic hero and anthropologist Indiana Jones, but faculty are people who often take risks to tell truths that some people do not want to hear.

We have faculty who take and defend unpopular positions on principle: we have climate scientists who talk frankly about the effects of climate change; creative writers who imagine things some people may find disturbing; artists who challenge our perception; social scientists who talk about new different and systems to create real justice in the world; librarians who protect our right to information; counselors who defend and protect the rights of students seeking help, and coaches who often serve as special mentors and protect their student athletes. 

From the AAUP’s statement on Academic Freedom:

The common good depends upon the free search for truth and its free exposition … Academic freedom is essential to [furthering the common good] and applies to both teaching and research. Freedom in research is fundamental to the advancement of truth. Academic freedom in its teaching aspect is fundamental for the protection of the rights of the teacher in teaching and of the student to freedom in learning.

I think all members of the CSU community perceive the CSU as fostering the common good, and as such you should be protecting your faculty who seek the truth on behalf of society at large in order to protect the university.

We are disappointed with the actions of Cal State Fullerton’s administration and their rush to terminate without properly weighing the evidence.  Rather than being concerned with bad publicity or potential donors, CSU managers should be concerned first and foremost with protecting their own employees from attacks and not making presumptions without evidence.

Wake up and realize that there are forces mobilizing not just against the faculty, but against truth, learning, and the university.

Make no mistake, CFA will stridently defend our faculty who are under attack by forces who have contempt for the university and for free inquiry.

Our successful defense of Dr. Canin speaks to CFA’s commitment to protecting all members of the campus community from the new wave of attacks on Academic Freedom and free speech.

We expect the CSU administration to honor the essential risk taking that faculty do in seeking truth and defending principles as being at the heart of the university, and stand up members of the CSU community.  We hope we can count on the Board to make the same commitment.

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Links to more on Dr. Canin’s case and on Academic Freedom