Student op-ed: academic freedom is 'oppressive to the minority'

An American University student criticized academic freedom in a recent op-ed, arguing that it is “oppressive to the minority.”

Nickolaus Mack, a managing editor for the student newspaper, presented his case in a December 18 editorial denouncing the Faculty Senate for passing a resolution supporting academic freedom more than two years earlier.

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Mack argued that while faculty “illogically concluded that the resolution would push students to become 'critical thinkers and responsible citizens,'" academic freedom is actually “a privilege afforded only to those unaffected by the political and cultural realities that we live in today.”

He goes on to call for content warnings in academia, as well as "a cleansing of identity-based bias from course content and pedagogy," in order to stop "false opinions" and "problematic practices" from entering the academic setting.

The resolution that was approved by the Faculty Senate in 2015 enables "campus speakers who espouse sexist, homophobic, or xenophobic views" to come to campus, according to Mack.

Mack elaborated on his claims to Campus Reform, offering examples of how racism is pervasive on his campus, such as “outdated in-class hypotheticals that utilize racial undertones and rely upon stereotypes,” “straw-manning requests for trigger warnings/content warnings as attempts to opt-out/censor course content,” “repeated incorrect pronunciation of non-euro names,” and “glossing over/ignoring female contributions to course discussions.”

Consequently, he suggested the school needs a “cultural competency module that is regularly updated and teaches/tests for competency across cultures.”

Although Mack claimed that he does not believe in restricting speakers from coming to campus, he believes that faculty members should “be active members of their campus community and appropriately respond to speakers who ideology, views, and opinions run contrary to our community values.”

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Additionally, he said professors should seek out opportunities to “uplift and support marginalized communities,” asserting that by remaining in their “own bubble of practice, reinforced by academic freedom (the right to your bubble),” they become “neglectful of the realities in which and amongst we live and the responsibility [they] have to the coming generations of which will be even more diverse than society today.”

He concludes that until the “standard” of uplifting marginalized communities by professors is met, their “professorial academic freedom stops where our desks begin."

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