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We, the undersigned faculty of the University of Florida, support the University of Florida’s written commitment and recent statements affirming academic freedom as a core component of a top-ranked educational institution. To that end we applaud the reversal of the decision to deny the three political scientists the opportunity to testify and provide expert assistance in the voting rights case.
The core of academic freedom and free speech is the protection, support, and enhancement of faculty in all aspects of their job: teaching, research, and service.
We stand for and support the United Faculty of Florida – University of Florida (UFF-UF)’s demands in the 5 November statement. In addition, we call for the following actions from the University, consistent with the core mission of the university and to restore the justified stature and recognition of the university as a top-five public university and research institution:
1. Provide full support of external service activities of faculty, including expert testimony, participation in amicus briefs, or public policy input in connection with their expertise.
2. Recognize that, for purposes of the University’s conflict of interest policy, a conflict is any activity that conflicts with the University’s mission to be “a diverse community dedicated to excellence in education and research and shaping a better future for Florida, the nation and the world” and which interferes with teaching, scholarship, or service in pursuit of that mission.
3. Faculty activity that furthers the mission of the University should not be prohibited by the conflict of interest policy because it is adverse to the interests of the political leadership of the state of Florida or any political perspective or point of view.
4. Cease efforts to terminate courses, change course names, or in any way impact directly or indirectly course content that might be perceived as objectionable. The university must reverse any decisions, advice or warnings where such action has already been taken and commit to comprehensive support for the faculty’s teaching mission consistent with the principles of academic freedom. This is not limited to but must include courses or parts of courses that address race, racial history and racial justice.
5. Provide comprehensive support for course development and teaching content that is based on the faculty member’s expertise.
6. Provide support for faculty research and bar any actions intended to control the content, dissemination, or sharing of such research with third parties seeking their expertise.
7. Protect faculty from physical or other forms of assault and harassment by members of the campus community or members of the public, including taking immediate response to any threats to their person while on campus.
8. Consider carefully requests made for the release of faculty personnel files so that information that may subject a faculty member and/ or their family members to harassment and physical danger are not released.
9. We reaffirm, and the University must continuously reaffirm the core principles of freedom, access to knowledge, and the role of the university in a democratic society.
Coalition of Faculty for Academic Freedom