Monday, February 19, 2007

Student Rights and the AAUP

John J. Miller of the National Review denounces the Arizona repression plan, but goes on to declare that "the American Association of University Professors and other groups that defend the academic freedom of the tenured class should extend their principles to students, stand beside FIRE, and attack speech codes that limit free speech."

What a lovely idea. Fortunately, the AAUP did that 40 years ago in its Statement on the Rights and Freedoms of Students, and 13 years ago in its statement against speech codes, and 7 years ago in its Statement on Graduate Students, all of which are far better protections of student rights than anything David Horowitz and other conservatives have proposed in the false name of protecting student liberties.

Unfortunately, the AAUP doesn't have the resources to defend all faculty, let alone students, who have their rights violated, and the AAUP historically has been a conservative organization unwilling to take activist stands. I'd like to see that change, and I'd like to see the AAUP take the lead in pushing campuses to revise Conduct Codes to protect student rights, but it makes no sense to falsely accuse the AAUP of failing to defend students when it's been taking principled stands for their rights far longer than any conservative groups.

1 comment:

AaronBarlow said...

I agree completely... with one caveat.

Student rights are not the same as the rights of academic freedom initially posited by the AAUP in 1915. Those are an agreement between the faculty and the administration--they have an impact on students, of course, but are not student rights.

Student rights should be defended, but as student rights, not as an extension of faculty academic freedom. Otherwise, both sets of rights get diffused, becoming generic rights of expression that all of us should have anyway.