By Dustin Massengill –

The American Association of University Professors senior program officer Hans-Joerg Tiede discussed the state of academic freedom under President Donald Trump’s administration Feb. 24.

Tiede expressed his concerns about an already fragile system of protections of academic freedom coming under more legislative and social attack since Trump’s election.

“Enemies of the American people – the press and academics,” Tiede said. “These attacks are aimed at these institutions because of the roles they play in our democracy.”

The AAUP defines academic freedom as “the freedom to teach both in and outside the classroom, to conduct research, and to publish the results of those investigations and to address any matter institutional policy or action whether or not as members of an agency of institutional governance.”

Social attacks against academic freedom have also been present in the form of a “professor watchlist,” a project produced by Turning Point USA. The website publishes complaints from conservative university students across the nation that feel that specific professors are discriminating and pushing liberal agendas.

Professor Carol Hanchette brought up SB 103 and HB 482. She cited concerns the legislation is raising in her department. 

“No federal funds may be used to design, build, maintain, utilize or provide access to federal database of geospatial information on community racial disparities or disparities on access to affordable housing,” Hanchette said. “We, in a whole, are interested in environmental issues, social justice issues and health disparities very often, unfortunately often translate to poverty and racial disparities … so to just squelching this is an academic freedom issue, a very serious one.”

Some faculty members fear legislation attacking tenure may happen in Kentucky. However, Tiede said bills to completely remove tenure in Iowa and Missouri won’t survive the political process, and that the legislation will not move to Kentucky.

Tiede encouraged faculty members to educate each other on academic freedom and stay active in their faculty governments. Tiede also encouraged students to vote and contact their representatives.

Photo by Dustin Massengill / The Louisville Cardinal