The Academic Freedom Alliance, the Heterodox Academy, and the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE) are concerned that institutions of higher learning are weighing in on social and political issues that do not and should not concern academia.
"Colleges and universities are in the business of creating knowledge," submits Connor Murnane, director of engagement and mobilization for FIRE. "If that institution puts its thumb on the scale, you're already limiting the debate and dialogue that goes into producing and advancing knowledge."
When administrators issue politicized statements on issues and controversies, he says that tends to stifle the free speech of students and faculty who contradict those positions.
"By building up a generation that is too afraid to question that authority, too afraid to meet speech with more speech, it's looking pretty bleak," Murnane warns. "We might be in trouble."
The open letter points out that college trustees hold the ultimate authority to ensure colleges and universities focus on truth-seeking rather than on truth-dictating.