The United States constitution in the first amendment guarantees us the right of free speech. It is perhaps our most precious right, as the exercise of free speech is the essential antidote to abuse of power. In academia, the right of free speech is extended more fully into the workplace through the protections afforded by tenure. Tenure gives a right to those who have earned it to espouse views and to pursue avenues of intellectual exploration that may be diametrically opposed to the position of academic administration. This freedom is a great strength of academia.
But with this freedom comes responsibility, responsibility to be civil and respectful, especially to one’s colleagues. If another colleague disagrees with your position, it does not make them ‘a liar.’ If a funding proposal is advanced that one does not favor, it should not be characterized as ‘thievery.’ We should strive to disagree without being disagreeable. It is important to preserve our personal relationships so that we may achieve our common goal of excellence for Anderson.
President Frank recently issued a reminder of UNM Faculty Handbook’s Section C09, titled “Respectful Campus.” I urge all of us to refresh our acquaintance with this policy and to commit to maintaining a positive and constructive atmosphere at Anderson.