ACTA is an independent, non-profit organization committed to academic freedom, excellence, and accountability at America's colleges and universities.

ACTA is an independent, non-profit organization committed to academic freedom, excellence, and accountability at America's colleges and universities.

ACTA is an independent, non-profit organization committed to academic freedom, excellence, and accountability at America's colleges and universities.

New Guide Provides University Boards with Tools to Strengthen Freedom of Expression on Campus

ACTA Releases a New Trustee Resource for Safeguarding Freedom of Speech

October 23, 2018 by Doug Sprei

WASHINGTON, DC—The American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) today announced the release of Guarding the Freedom to Speak, Freedom to Hear by Professor Joyce Lee Malcolm of the Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University. This comprehensive guide for university boards provides best practices for securing intellectual freedom on the American college campus.

The concerning lack of understanding about the First Amendment and how its protections translate onto a college campus have been well-documented. According to a Gallup/Knight Foundation report, 53% of surveyed students believe diversity is more important than free speech, compared with 46% who chose free speech. Since 2016, a growing number of students have signaled that hateful speech should be prohibited, despite its legal protections.

The new guide will:

  • Educate trustees about the legal and ethical norms that make the practices of the “heckler’s veto” and disinvitations inherently problematic;
  • Prompt self-scrutiny and preparedness by outlining key questions that boards of trustees and campus leadership should be asking;
  • Offer practical and clear guidelines to help trustees cultivate a campus climate where free speech can flourish; and
  • Provide trustees with a wallet-size card, “Protecting Free Speech on Campus: 10 Questions Trustees Should Ask,” to ensure new policies are addressing fundamental problems.

Professor Malcolm’s new publication follows a successful first report entitled Building a Culture of Free Expression on the American College Campus: Challenges & Solutions, which provides an in-depth analysis of the history of free expression, the contemporary challenges, and clear solutions for college and university boards.

“The very lifeblood of liberal arts education is the free exchange of ideas, which the C. Vann Woodward Report long ago described as, ‘the right to challenge the unchallengeable,’” said ACTA President Michael Poliakoff. “At a time when too many institutions refuse to listen to any departure from campus orthodoxies, Dr. Malcolm provides for higher education leadership the rationale and the tools to protect and foster the one freedom essential for teaching and learning: the unfettered freedom of expression.”

To read Guarding the Freedom to Speak, Freedom to Hear by Professor Malcolm, please visit www.goacta.org.


CONTACT: Doug Sprei, dsprei@goacta.org

ACTA is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to academic freedom, academic excellence, and accountability in higher education. We receive no government funding and are supported through the generosity of individuals and foundations. For more information, visit GoACTA.org.