WASHINGTON, DC—The American Council of Trustees and Alumni today praised University of Texas–Austin president Larry Faulkner for strongly upholding the First Amendment.
Faulkner has criticized controversial comments made by a Texas faculty member after the September 11 terrorist attacks, but has staunchly defended the professor’s right to say them. “Students must learn that there is a good deal of foolish opinion in the popular media and they must become skilled at recognizing and discounting it,” Faulkner wrote in the Houston Chronicle. “I … was disgusted by Jensen’s article, but I also must defend his freedom to state his opinion.”
Faulkner’s comments were made after journalism professor Robert Jensen published an op-ed piece in the Houston Chronicle which claimed that the September 11 terrorist attacks were “no more despicable than the massive acts of terrorism” committed by the United States. Jensen’s statements were included in a report recently issued by ACTA, Defending Civilization: How Our Universities Are Failing America and What We Can Do About It. The report notes the striking divide between public and faculty opinion and calls on colleges and universities to offer students varying viewpoints and an atmosphere of free exchange.
“At a time when many presidents simply cower rather than stand up for basic principles, University of Texas president Larry Faulkner is a commendable exception,” said ACTA vice president and general counsel Anne D. Neal. “It is the responsibility of a university to teach that the right way to counter ideas with which one disagrees is with more speech, not less. This is exactly what President Faulkner has done.”
The American Council of Trustees and Alumni is a non-profit educational organization of alumni and trustees dedicated to academic freedom, excellence, and accountability.