Academic Freedom Policy May 05, 2021 at UC Law SF Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on LinkedIn Share through Email Academic Freedom Adopted by the Faculty Executive Committee in 2011; Updated and Approved by the Faculty on April 26, 2023 Preamble Recognizing that robust First Amendment principles in the United States Constitution and corresponding provisions in the California Constitution bind UC Law SF, as a public institution, and, moreover, that the free exchange of ideas is essential to a free society; Considering the UC Law SF Faculty Executive Committee’s endorsement in 2011 of the American Association of University Professors’ Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure (1940); Recognizing also that institutions of higher education may experience pressure from private donors and public funders to exclude, or to amplify, particular viewpoints; Believing that individual faculty members should be able to engage in teaching (including the selection of clinical projects and clients), scholarly research, and public engagement without fear of institutional sanction or retribution for expressing or eliciting viewpoints that others disagree with; Noting the particular vulnerability of pre-tenure, contract, and adjunct faculty and the need to ensure that these vital contributors to the mission of UC Law SF can speak, teach, and research freely; Affirming that the Code of Faculty Rights and Responsibilities (Faculty Code), as enacted by the Faculty on May 4, 1992, and amended most recently by the Faculty on April 13, 2018 (Document VI of the Faculty Rules and Procedures), sets out core professional rights of faculty essential to the preservation of academic freedom at the law school, including, but not limited to, free inquiry and exchange of ideas; Affirming also that the Faculty Code also sets out faculty responsibilities and standards for assessing and addressing unacceptable or incompetent conduct; Underscoring that the Faculty Code not only directs UC Law SF to refrain from interfering in the core professional rights of faculty, but also places an affirmative duty on UC Law SF, in support of its central function as an institution of higher learning, to proactively protect and encourage the faculty in their teaching (including the selection of clinical projects and clients), scholarly research, and public engagement by preserving such professional rights; Emphasizing that this affirmative duty requires UC Law SF to ensure that rights enumerated in the Code are protected in practice, so that faculty may provide a forum for, and express, a full spectrum of ideas and viewpoints in the classroom and in their research; The UC Law SF Faculty affirms the following guiding principles for the promotion and protection of academic freedom: Purpose 1.1 The faculty of UC Law SF is committed to the principle that the pursuit of knowledge and the free expression of a full spectrum of ideas and viewpoints is at the heart of the academic mission, whether in the context of research and scholarship, in the classroom (including the selection of clinical projects and clients), and in faculty contributions to public discourse. 1.2 The principles of academic freedom protect the faculty’s freedom of inquiry and research, freedom of teaching (which, at a law school, includes the selection of clinical projects and clients), and freedom of expression and publication. These freedoms enable the faculty to advance knowledge and to transmit it effectively to students and to the public. 1.3 The faculty also seeks to foster in our students a mature independence of mind, and the ability to understand, analyze, and debate positions that may differ from their own. This purpose cannot be achieved unless faculty are free to express and to elicit a full spectrum of ideas and viewpoints, consistent with their rights, standards of scholarly inquiry, and professional ethics. The law school has a special responsibility to equip the next generation of legal professionals with analytical, advocacy, and communication skills crucial to their professional success. When members of the academic community are fearful of expressing or engaging with ideas, the law school cannot advance this mission. 1.4 Learning to engage in dialogue concerning a full spectrum of ideas and viewpointsis a developmental skill that faculty should be committed to teaching and improving.Faculty should strive both to cultivate and to model these skills. Promoting and Protecting the Free Exchange of Ideas 2.1 Academic freedom and freedom of expression are at the heart of the law school’s mission as an institution of higher learning. The goal of education, and especially legal education, is to develop a broad and deep understanding of, and ability to engage on the merits with, a full spectrum of ideas and viewpoints. Vigorous disagreement provides opportunities for us to more effectively articulate, defend, and reflect on our own positions. 2.2 Academic freedom is especially important when the ideas or viewpoints are controversial or unpopular, as orthodox or popular ideas need no protection. It is not appropriate for a law school to prevent or punish the expression of ideas and viewpoints on the grounds that they are controversial, disagreeable, or even offensive. 2.3 Members of the academic community should aspire to civil discourse and to good faith reflection on the different views of others. However, this aspiration may not operate in practice as a restraint on academic freedom and expression, or as a requirement that any faculty member endorse, amplify, or include any particular view. 2.4 The Faculty Code sets out the core professional rights of faculty essential to the preservation of academic freedom at the law school, including, but not limited to, free inquiry and exchange of ideas; the right to present controversial material relevant to a course of instruction; the enjoyment of constitutionally protected freedom of expression; and the right to be judged by one’s colleagues, in matters of promotion, tenure, and discipline, solely on the basis of the faculty member’s professional qualifications and professional conduct and in accordance with fair procedures. 2.5 With the rights and privileges of academic freedom come corresponding responsibilities, as defined in the Faculty Code. Members of the faculty must also comply with legal obligations to refrain from discrimination and harassment. Freedom from Interference 3.1 The law school may not use assessments of or discipline for incompetence or other unacceptable conduct as a pretext for interfering with, limiting, or sanctioning a faculty member’s exercise of academic freedom or freedom of expression. No provision of the Faculty Code or other law school policy should be interpreted or applied in order to interfere with, limit, or sanction an individual faculty member or academic appointee’s freedom of expression if that expression is legitimately related to that faculty member’s course content, teaching, scholarship, or contributions to public discourse. 3.2 No person or organization outside the academic community shall be permitted to dictate which ideas or projects may be taught, explored, expressed, supported, or endorsed by UC Law SF. 3.3 The law school should recognize that access to institutional resources and opportunities for professional development could be granted or denied in an inappropriate manner that chills academic freedom and freedom of expression. Law school administrators, in exercising their discretion to distribute law school resources and opportunities for professional advancement (including but not limited to salary increases; faculty development funds; research and case management stipends; sabbaticals; new or continued funding for centers, clinics, and similar programs; the renewal or extension of contracts; administrative roles for faculty; or other generally available resources or opportunities), should base their decisions solely on a faculty member’s professional qualifications and performance and, where applicable, the professional merits of the faculty member’s proposal. The law school may not use such assessments, or the related distribution of law school resources and opportunities, to interfere with, limit, or sanction a faculty member’s exercise of academic freedom or freedom of expression. 3.4 Nothing in Sections 3.2 or 3.3 is meant to preclude access to external project or topic-based contributions, grants, or other awards, including third-party sponsored research, subject-specific chairs, or external donations to law school centers or programs with specific missions. 3.5 Members of the academic community have a responsibility to exercise independent judgment on academic decisions free from interference. Other members of the academic community should endeavor to protect the right of fellow members to make such independent judgments based on the standards of the profession. Non-Endorsement and Institutional Expression 4.1 The comments or opinions expressed by speakers at events held on the UC Law SF campus are the speakers’ own and should not be taken as a statement, opinion, position, or endorsement by UC Law SF. 4.2 The comments or opinions expressed by UC Law SF faculty or other employees engaged in teaching, research, or scholarship, whether in publications, courses, or public fora, are their own and should not be taken as a statement, opinion, position, or endorsement by UC Law SF. 4.3 Administrators, and faculty in administrative positions, occasionally speak on behalf of the law school and to the law school community. The faculty encourages administrators to remain mindful that the endorsement of particular viewpoints on matters not directly related to the business of the law school may convey that there is only one acceptable viewpoint on such matters. This can have a chilling effect on academic freedom and on the expression of a full spectrum of ideas and viewpoints within the academic community. In an age where public funding of universities has diminished vastly, it becomes acutely important to ensure that the influence of money not be permitted to dictate academic decisions. Private donors may, of course, give or withhold gifts as they see fit, but members of the academic community have a responsibility to exercise independent judgment on academic decisions, and it is further the responsibility of other members of the community to protect the right of fellow members to make such independent judgments.