1.1 WHEREAS state legislative proposals are being introduced across the United States that target academic discussions of racism and related issues in American history in schools, colleges and universities; and
1.2 WHEREAS the American Association of University Professors’ 1940 statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure affirms the importance of academic freedom to the proper functioning of universities; and
1.3 WHEREAS the 2020 statement of standards by our regional accreditor, the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, holds that:
"1.C.5 - The institution engages in an effective system of assessment to evaluate the quality of learning in its programs. The institution recognizes the central role of faculty to establish curricula, assess student learning, and improve instructional programs."; and
1.4 WHEREAS the 2020 statement of standards by our regional accreditor, the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, holds that one component necessary for accreditation is that “the institution adheres to the principles of academic freedom and independence that protect its constituencies from inappropriate internal and external influences, pressures, and harassment”; and
1.5 WHEREAS University of Oregon Policy No. 01.00.19 and Article 5, Section 1 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the University of Oregon and United Academics of the University of Oregon (https://hr.uoregon.edu/employee-labor-relations/employee-groups-cbas/united-academics) independently codify the centrality of academic freedom to operations of the University of Oregon; and
1.6 WHEREAS these legislative proposals vary but all seek to prohibit or restrict curriculum on what they call “divisive concepts” in the teaching and education of students; and
1.7 WHEREAS the term “divisive” is indeterminate, subjective, and chills the capacity of educators to explore a wide variety of topics based on subjective criteria that are inapposite from the goals of education and the development of essential critical thinking skills; and
1.8 WHEREAS educating about systemic barriers to realizing a multiracial democracy based on race or gender should be understood as central to the active and engaged pursuit of knowledge in the 21st century to produce engaged and informed citizens informed by an uncensored and complete understanding of history; and
1.9 WHEREAS over seventy organizations, including the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) and the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AACU), issued the Joint Statement on Legislative Efforts to Restrict Education about Racism and American History (June 16, 2021) stating their “firm opposition to a spate of legislative proposals being introduced across the country that target academic lessons, presentations, and discussions of racism and related issues in American history in schools, colleges and universities . . . In higher education, under principles of academic freedom that have been widely endorsed, professors are entitled to freedom in the classroom in discussing their subject. Educators, not politicians, should make decisions about teaching and learning”; and
1.10 WHEREAS the University of Oregon’s mission statement specifically lists two relevant values: “We value academic freedom, creative expression, and intellectual discourse” and “We value our diversity and seek to foster equity and inclusion in a welcoming, safe, and respectful community”; and
1.11 WHEREAS University of Oregon President Michael Schill and Provost Patrick Phillips have independently made strong statements affirming the freedom of faculty to research, write, publish, and teach about important subjects, regardless of whether these subjects are politically popular or whether they may make others uncomfortable (https://provost.uoregon.edu/academic-freedom); and
1.12 WHEREAS Senate Resolution US19/20-18, passed June 2, 2020, affirms the importance of racial and social justice, that it is our responsibility to “understand the history of our own privileges, racism, and biases and the impact of our actions, or lack thereof, on the Black community, Native people, and other communities of color,” that it is also our responsibility “to study, teach, and learn from the effects of structural racism and white nationalism on Black Americans, all people of color, and the wellbeing of our democracy,” and that we resolve in multiple ways to support teaching about these topics, particular in support of the important work being done in the Department of Indigenous, Race, and Ethnic Studies (IRES); and
1.13 WHEREAS in a nation that has for centuries struggled with issues of racial inequity and injustice, many students do not have adequate knowledge of BIPOC and LGBTQI history and the policies that contributed to inequities, University of Oregon has a responsibility and opportunity to help build equity and social justice.
2.1 THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the University Senate resolutely rejects any attempts by bodies external to the faculty to restrict or dictate university curriculum on any matter, including matters related to racial and social justice, and will stand firm against encroachment on faculty authority by the legislature or the Boards of Trustees.
2.2 BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Senate stands with our K-12 colleagues throughout the country who may be affected by this pernicious legislation when they seek to teach the truth in U.S. history and civics education.
2.3 BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that Senate calls upon President Schill and Provost Phillips to continue to affirm that they reject any attempts by bodies external to the faculty to restrict or dictate university curriculum on any matter, including matters related to racial and social justice, and will stand firm against encroachment on faculty authority by the legislature or the Boards of Trustees.
2.4 BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that Senate affirms the Joint Statement on Efforts to Restrict Education about Racism, authored by the AAUP, PEN America, the American Historical Association, and the Association of American Colleges & Universities, endorsed by over seventy organizations, and issued on June 16, 2021.