Academic Freedom: Faculty Language

2012-10-02 23:46:16 by admin

Academic freedom

Academic freedom: External Attempts to Regulate Faculty

Academic freedom: Internal Conflicts Over Faculty Actions

Academic freedom: Course Content

Academic freedom: Course Grading

Academic freedom: Faculty Criticism of Employers

Courts generally hold that there is no general faculty right of Academic freedom to use or permit derogatory, offensive, or profane language in classrooms. Cases from the Sixth Circuit illustrate the basic support that courts show for higher education institutions that discipline educators who, without pedagogical justification, use such language in teaching their classes. The court agreed with university officials that discharged a basketball coach for using a racial epithet for Black players in a locker room session (although he alleged it was used in a positive, reinforcing manner) and that suspended a member of an English department for using profane terms for sexual intercourse and derogatory terms for female reproductive organs (despite his claim that he used these terms in class to demonstrate an academic point).

In contrast to these two decisions, the Sixth Circuit ruled in favor of an instructor at a community college whose contract was not renewed after he used crude and offensive language in his teaching. The court determined that the First Amendment protected the faculty member’s use of offensive terms for Blacks and females within an academic and philosophic discussion, not gratuitously in an abusive manner, in a class devoted in part to interpersonal communication. Other courts also blocked the punishment of educators whose use of vulgar and sexual descriptions in classroom discussions led students to file sexual harassment charges of a hostile academic environment, when the courts found the harassment policies vague and their application subjective.