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PSC Response to CUNY Board of Trustees’ Overbroad Description of Hate Speech

Jun 12, 2023

Since the first contractual agreement signed by CUNY and Professional Staff Congress in 1973, the preamble has stated, “Whereas, CUNY and the PSC seek to maintain and encourage, in accordance with law, full freedom of inquiry, teaching, research and publication of results, the parties subscribe to Academic Freedom for faculty members … [and] as applicable to other members of the instructional staff.” The CUNY Board of Trustees May 30 response to the CUNY Law School student commencement remarks betrays this vision of a university committed to the full and free exchange of ideas. The Board’s overbroad description of hate speech undermines CUNY’s character as a university where free speech and open dialogue can flourish. Mischaracterizing expression protected by the First Amendment as hate speech has a chilling effect in the context of public higher education, whose bedrock must be free speech and academic freedom. Political statements by students, faculty, and staff have been weaponized before, as now, to discredit CUNY and even threaten the university’s funding. In the current climate, when both hate speech and the repression of free speech are on the rise, the CUNY Board of Trustees should retract their statement, as it is not in keeping with the principles they are appointed to represent and defend.

Published: June 12, 2023

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