A UW-La Crosse professor is drawing national attention
to the issue of free speech.
Back in October, Geography and Earth Science professor
Rachel Slocum sent an email to her students, saying
they wouldn't be able to finish their homework because
of the government shutdown.
Her email specifically blamed the Republican Party
for the situation.
A student in the class snapped a picture of the email
and posted it on Twitter.
It quickly gained national attention.
and the university asked Slocum to apologize to her
Following her apology.
staff and students at UW-L are worried that they're
not able to express themselves freely.
Now, the university's faculty senate is taking action.
News Eight's Kyle Dimke has more on the story.
Leah....Academic Freedom is a set of 3 principles
put in place by the American Association of University
Professors in 1940.
One of those principles says teachers are entitled
to freedom in the classroom.
but shoudn't introduce controversial topics not related
to their subject.
But the UW-L faculty feels there needs to be a more
clear definition to academic freedom now in our digitial
The faculty union and senate at the University of
Wisconsin La Crosse .
want to make sure that staff and students are able
to openly express their opinions and beliefs.
SC: 4- The nature of a university education is to
experience challenges to your own views.
If everytime somebody feels challenged in the classroom
there is an outcry then we're not going to get very
far in terms of an education.
Susan Crutchfield is the chair of the English Department
She says social media has changed the game...
SC: 6- When what is being contextualized in an educational
setting is sent out into the public without that context
people can misunderstand.
Now she feels there needs to be a change to the policy
SC: 2- A statement that will spell out a little more
clearly what we want to preserve in terms of the kinds
of interactions and the kinds of ideas that can be
expressed in the classroom and also in other professional
contexts at UW-L like over email, on the internet.
But, UW-L Chancellor Joe Gow doesn't think a new policy
JG: 10- I don't know that we need to do much more
than just say lets be sensetive to what the American
Association of University Professors has already said,
which is to use academic freedom but also have skill
when you're discussing a controvesial topic
Gow says what began the conversation of a new academic
freedom policy, was an isolated incident....
and hopes the new policy will address more than just
JG: 8- Each case, your going to find, is a little
bit different and you have to look at what is happening
in a particular case.
Chancellor Gow says the university will implement
the policy as long as all 4 campus governing boards
agree on it.
Those boards include faculty...staff and students.
A draft of the new policy will be shared with the
entire university once it's finished.
Employees and students will get the chance to discuss
the policy, before the faculty senate votes on it,
at the end of the year.