More than 100 members of the famous Harvard University faculty have joined the newly formed “Council on Academic Freedom” with the goal of protecting free speech on campus.
The initiative was announced earlier this month by the Council’s co-founder, psychology professor Steven Pinker, in an opinion piece in the Boston Globe.
– Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty, and if we don’t defend academic freedom, we should not be surprised when politicians try to do it for us or a disgusted citizenry writes us off, Pinker comments.
Following the announcement, the Council nearly doubled in size, with representatives from virtually every discipline. Janet Halley, a professor and researcher at Harvard University since 2000, joined the Council after seeing countless professors being targeted and punished for their opinions or views.
– Many, many people are being threatened with – and actually put through – disciplinary processes for their exercise of free speech and academic freedom, Halley said in an interview with the New York Post.
– Many people think that they’re entitled not to be offended [on campus], and they are willing to complain, she continues.
According to the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE), 145 professors have been subject to various forms of punishment in the US in 2022 alone, mainly from far-left activists who attack research that is not perceived as politically correct – something that Halley says must come to an end.
– An organization at Harvard, sponsored by faculty, is crucial for putting this issue on the agenda in a clear and consistent way in the Harvard environment, Halley continues.
As the organization grows, leaders hope that people will realize that it is not self-interest that is behind the formation of the Council. What is at stake is much more serious.
– You want to be able to train citizens who know how to function with each other in a society, she concludes.