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Collateral Damage: Faculty Free Speech in America After 9/11


by Patricia Somers & Susan B. Somers-Willett — August 01, 2002

Historically, in times of national crisis, political dissent has been stifled. In the wake of September 11, faculty members across the country have been involved in conflicts with campus administrators and the public over freedom of expression. This article explores the changing terrain of academic freedom in the post-9/11 U.S. by examining three critical cases in which the extramural free speech rights of faculty members have been threatened. In all cases, university officials punished employees who voiced “unpopular” or “unpatriotic” sentiments which led to potential problems with donors, corporate partners, and consumers of the university. Given that more and more universities are adopting corporate models, these cases indicate a disturbing trend of favoring profit margins over academic freedom. We conclude that the current incursions will be challenged only through collective action by academic unions, faculty senates, and cultural workers.


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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record, Date Published: August 01, 2002
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 11004, Date Accessed: 6/27/2017 8:19:52 PM

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About the Author
  • Patricia Somers
    University of Missouri – St. Louis
    E-mail Author
    PATRICIA SOMERS is Associate Professor of Higher Education at the University of Missouri - St. Louis. She received the Ph.D. from the University of New Orleans. Her research interests include college students, international higher education, and legal issues in higher education.
  • Susan Somers-Willett
    University of Texas at Austin
    E-mail Author
    SUSAN B.A. SOMERS-WILLETT is a doctoral candidate in the Department of English at the University of Texas at Austin and is currently completing a dissertation entitled Authenticating Voices: Performance and Black Identity in Slam Poetry. She is the recipient of a 2002-3 American Association of University Women American Dissertation Fellowship.
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