ACTA and Academic Freedom



From the beginning, academic freedom has been a core concern of the Louis D. Brandeis Center.  As civil rights lawyers, we are concerned both when academic freedom is violated and also when the doctrine is abused.  For example, we are concerned when anti-Israel activists suppress the ability of pro-Israel speakers to communicate their messages on campus.  We are also concerned when the doctrine of academic freedom is abused in efforts to justify or protect hateful, harassing or biased academic lectures.  LDB President Kenneth L. Marcus has presented some of these issues in the current issue of the Journal of College and University Law.  See his article on “Academic Freedom and Political Indoctrination.”

In order to share with our readers the latest research on academic freedom, we have asked experts at the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) to appear as our guests on this blog.  ACTA is an independent, non-profit organization committed to academic freedom, excellence, and accountability at America’s colleges and universities.  Under the inspired leadership of Anne Neal,  ACTA has recently issued an important trustees’ guide on “Free to Teach, Free to Learn: Understanding and Maintaining Academic Freedom in the United States.”  This guide compiles critical source materials, case studies and commentaries from leading experts.  We are pleased that two of ACTA’s key staffers, William Gonch and Avi Snyder, will be our guests over the coming weeks.

William Gonch is the Senior Program Officer for Communications at ACTA. Mr. Gonch oversees ACTA’s social media, is responsible for monthly e-mail newsletters and e-alerts, and edits ACTA’s quarterly newsletter Inside Academe. He manages ACTA’s blog “The Forum: A Town Square for Higher Education,” supports the development team, and supervises ACTA’s intern program-working closely with the vice president of policy and the president. Before joining ACTA, he taught Creative Writing at Temple University in Philadelphia. He graduated summa cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania and earned an M.A. in Creative Writing from Temple. His writing has appeared in the Claremont Review of Books and in several regional newspapers, including the Springfield News-Sun in Ohio, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in Texas, and the York Daily Record in Pennsylvania.

Avi Snyder is a research associate and social media coordinator at ACTA. He is currently participating in the Charles Koch Institute’s year-long Koch Associate Program. Mr. Snyder graduated summa cum laude from Brandeis University in 2013 with a B.A. in Philosophy, Politics & Economics (PPE). He has previously worked at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism and the Heritage Foundation.

Messrs. Gonch and Snyder join an impressive list of recent guests here at the Brandeis Center Blog.  Recent bloggers have included Ruth Wisse, Richard D. Heideman, Gil Troy, Rafael Medoff, Alyza Lewin, and Andre Oboler.  Greg Lukianoff also appeared as a guest blogger on the related topic of freedom of speech in higher education.  As is always the case, the opinions expressed by our distinguished guests are theirs along, and we are delighted to share them with you.

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