Press Releases | Intellectual Diversity

ACTA Commends the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill’s Board of Trustees for Passing Resolutions to Protect Academic Freedom and Institutional Neutrality on Campus

August 2, 2022 by ACTA

Washington, DC—On Wednesday, July 27, the University of North Carolina (UNC)–Chapel Hill’s Board of Trustees passed two resolutions affirming the university’s commitment to academic freedom and institutional neutrality on campus. The first resolution directs university personnel to “develop and issue policy requiring that the Senates of the Undergraduate Student Government and the Graduate and Professional Students Government must appropriate all student fees in a viewpoint-neutral manner,” ensuring that student groups from across the ideological spectrum can engage in and host activities on campus. The second resolution “reaffirms [the board’s] commitment to academic freedom as embodied in the Chicago principles and the Kalven Committee Report on the University’s Role in Political and Social Action.” The resolutions were adopted as part of a joint meeting of the board’s University Affairs Committee and Strategic Initiatives Committee.

“A university has the crucial responsibility to cultivate and safeguard a learning space that does not discriminate against any one person, group, or ideology,” said Bryan Paul, the American Council of Trustees and Alumni’s (ACTA) director of alumni advocacy. “By passing these important resolutions, the UNC–Chapel Hill Board of Trustees has demonstrated respect for free expression and full, candid debate on controversial public issues. ACTA applauds this move and all the individuals and groups involved.”  

“It is particularly refreshing, at a time when pressure groups attempt to force universities to trumpet particular opinions, that the UNC–Chapel Hill Board of Trustees has reaffirmed UNC’s commitment to the time-honored Chicago Principles and Kalven Committee Report on institutional neutrality,” said ACTA President Michael Poliakoff. “Even as we remain sensitive on controversial issues, the trustees remind us that the central ethic of college campuses is to ensure open and robust discussion. Such an ethic commands our unwavering respect.”

According to the public meeting agenda, passage of the resolutions was preceded by a presentation on “Free Expression and Constructive Dialogue,” featuring research conducted by a team of UNC scholars. “Students across the political spectrum want more opportunities to engage with those who think differently,” the researchers reported. The resolutions passed by the board of trustees are a crucial step toward providing these opportunities for students and fostering viewpoint diversity on campus.

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