WHEREAS executive orders and legislative proposals are being introduced in Virginia, and across the United States, that target academic discussions of racism, including Critical Race Theory, and related issues of inequity in American history in schools, colleges and universities;
WHEREAS the 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 and stating: “Professors, guided by a deep conviction of the worth and dignity of the advancement of knowledge, recognize the special responsibilities placed upon them. Their primary responsibility to their subject is to seek and to state the truth as they see it. To this end professors devote their energies to developing and improving their scholarly competence. They accept the obligation to exercise critical self-discipline and judgment in using, extending, and transmitting knowledge. They practice intellectual honesty. Although professors may follow subsidiary interests, these interests must never seriously hamper or compromise their freedom of inquiry;”
WHEREAS faculty have chief responsibility for the University curriculum;
WHEREAS 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 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) declaring 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,” and stating that “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”;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Senate applauds the past actions of the President, Provost, and Board of Visitors affirming academic freedom in its 2021 endorsement of the University’s Statement on Free Expression and Free Inquiry.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Senate requests that the President, Provost, and Board of Visitors reject any attempts by bodies external to the faculty to restrict or dictate university curriculum on any matter, including matters related to racial and gender social justice, including multiple gender identities, including trans- and non-binary genders. Moreover, the Senate requests that they stand firm against encroachment on faculty authority by the governor and the legislature.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that through our preparation of future preK-12 teachers in our classes and professional schools, and with this statement, the Senate expresses support for our K-12 colleagues teaching US history and civics throughout the commonwealth who may be adversely affected by such mandates, legislation, or encroachment.