Resolution of Solidarity

WHEREAS Section 3.1 of the University of Virginia Faculty Handbook affirms the importance of academic freedom to the proper functioning of the university, citing the American Association of University Professors’ 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure, wherein, “Teachers are entitled to full freedom in research and in the publication of the results,” “Teachers are entitled to freedom in the classroom in discussing their subject,” and “Controversy is at the heart of the free academic inquiry;”

WHEREAS the Faculty Senate affirmed in April 2022 the University of Virginia Board of Visitors UVA Statement on Free Expression and Free Inquiry, adopted in June 2021, including these principles: “The University must not stifle protected expression, permit others to obstruct or shut down such expression, or regulate the tone or content of responses that stop short of interfering with others’ speech or violating the law;

WHEREAS the Faculty Senate passed the Resolution on Support of Academic Freedom, April 22, 2022, confirming: “faculty have chief responsibility for the University curriculum;” and “teaching about systemic barriers to the realization of a multiracial, gender-equal democracy is central to any active pursuit of knowledge in the 21st century that aims to produce engaged and informed citizens;”

WHEREAS faculty, students, and members of the university community have reported threats to their academic freedom and personal safety after expressing themselves, in full compliance with the principles outlined above, on recent matters pertaining to the ongoing suffering and horrific loss of Israeli and Palestinian lives related to the October 7, 2023 Hamas attacks on Israel and Israel’s military offensive into Gaza;

WHEREAS harassment of members of the University community, whether online or by any other method, and the dissemination of personal information through any method, violate the principles of the UVA Statement on Free Expression and Free Inquiry cited above; and

WHEREAS the lack of clear and specific information about incidents that challenge freedom of speech, professional autonomy, and the right to safety on Grounds contribute to uncertainty and insecurity and thereby to a stifling of free expression within the University community;


THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Senate affirms the faculty's role as professional scholars and educators to increase understanding of the ongoing complexities of current and historical subjects–including the tragedy and conflicts involving the Israeli and Palestinian peoples–while encouraging a diverse, inclusive, and equitable community at the University: our role is not to flatten these subjects into binary and polarizing oppositions even when they almost invariably raise ideas and positions that are objectionable to some if not many;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Senate calls on all University leaders publicly to reassert their support of academic freedom and their condemnation of all harassment that aims to stifle academic freedom, knowing that such statements carry protective force and help to alleviate the chilling effect created both by actual harassment and by the fear of harassment;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Senate calls on the University's administrative leadership to adhere to the 2021 Statement cited above and actively counter any attempt at stifling or distorting protected expression, to publish clear and specific information about University efforts to protect academic freedom, and to further develop and supply information about all resources available to support faculty who experience any incidents and activities–on Grounds, in classrooms, online, and in other venues–that impinge on academic freedom and the rights of faculty under that freedom;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that a flourishing democracy in the 21st century demands university faculty exercise their academic freedom as scholars and teachers, both in their classrooms and in the public sphere, where they may openly debate, challenge, and speak freely about contentious issues; and that unrestricted academic freedom must remain the cornerstone of a 21st-century university fully invested in the work of fostering democratic engagement.

Feature Date: 
Thursday, May 23, 2024