Yale College ACLU Response

to the April 9, 1997 YDN Letter to the Editor submitted by Michael Rubin

The following is a reprint to a letter to the editor submitted to the Yale Daily News in response to the April 9, 1997 letter submitted by Michael Rubin.

We commend Michael Rubin's interest in academic freedom and in our petition efforts. Rubin fails to understand that we are engaged in a general campaign for academic freedom and not in any way a GESO or union cause. We would fight to protect speech of students founding a KKK chapter though we might personally find their ideas offensive.

We can even understand Rubin's misconception about our cause because Tuesday's Daily News article failed to mention examples where the administration infringed upon perfectly harmless student expression. Rubin argues that grades strikes and some demonstrations were intrusive and not protected speech. However, students who did not participate in any grade strike were punished. Dean Richard Brodhead wrote a recommendation criticizing his student's "poor judgment" for mere union sympathy and participation in union activities; this student was not in the grade strike. Undergraduates were punished merely for leafleting pro-union literature; Yale police told one senior last year, "you cannot distribute union literature on Yale property."

Yale has an excellent record of protecting free speech, but these recent actions throw Yale's record into question. Signing academic freedom standards would be a simple, painless but important gesture to demonstrate Yale's continued commitment. We hope that President Levin will reaffirm Yale's dedication to free speech by signing Association American University Professors (AAUP) academic freedom guidelines. The AAUP is a nonpartisan neutral group of professors who devised fair and widely accepted academic freedom standards.

We thank Rubin for his contribution to the discussion of this issue, and hope he now understands that what is at stake is not a right to disrupt university functions, but a more sacred right to freely express sincere political beliefs.

The Executive Board of the ACLU Yale College Chapter

Raj AdlakhaTerra Lawson-Remer
Executive DirectorChairperson

back to ACLU in the news