MLA from the mountains to the prairies

Resolution: Academic Diversity




April 27, 2007


WHEREAS, there was a bill and a resolution put forth by the Montana Legislature concerning Academic Diversity; and

WHEREAS, these two pieces of legislation were a direct attack on the academic freedom of the University system of Montana; and

WHEREAS, this is a national movement put forth by a non-profit organization who is attempting to have this legislation passed both federally and locally by states; and

WHEREAS, the proponents at the hearing based their testimony on anecdotal information; and

WHEREAS, the opponents consisted of members of the Montana Board of Regents; Administrators from various units of the university system; students; student lobbyists, MEA/MFT, MLA, ACLU and private citizens; and

WHEREAS, HB525 was voted down on the House floor; and

WHEREAS, the resolution was voted down in the House Education Committee;

WHEREAS, academic institutions provide a forum for the robust exchange of a diversity of ideas; and

WHEREAS, libraries in academic institutions guarantee that a wide array of ideas that promote academic discourse are available; and

WHEREAS, academic institutions have in place longstanding representative democratic structures for review and redress of grievances; and

WHEREAS, most academic institutions follow the 1940 American Association of University Professors (AAUP) “Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure” and their libraries follow the “Freedom to Read Statement,” the “Library Bill of Rights,” the “Code of Professional Ethics for Librarians,” and the “Core Values of Librarianship” that are consonant with the 1940 AAUP statement; and

WHEREAS, these statements are effective safeguards of academic freedom and embrace the free expression rights and responsibilities laid out in the First Amendment; and

WHEREAS, an “Academic Bill of Rights” (ABOR) by the Center for the Study of Popular Culture, a self-described conservative nonprofit organization, is being introduced in legislatures and academic institutions; and

WHEREAS, this “Academic Bill of Rights” would impose extra-academic standards on academic institutions, directly interfering in course content, the classroom, the research process, and hiring and tenure decisions; and

WHEREAS, this “Academic Bill of Rights” applies principles other than relevant scholarly standards, as interpreted and applied by the academic profession; now,

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Montana Library Association reaffirms the principles of academic freedom embodied in the American Association of University Professors’ “Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure” (1940); and

THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Montana Library Association opposes any legislation or codification of documents like the “Academic Bill of Rights” (ABOR) that undermine academic and intellectual freedom, chill free speech, and/or otherwise interfere with the academic community’s well-established norms and values of scholarship and educational excellence.

THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that MLA continue to testify and actively oppose this type of legislation both in the Montana Legislature and the Federal Congressional Delegation; and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that when our MLA representatives meet with our Congressional Delegation next week in DC that they speak to Senators Baucus and Tester and Representative Reberg to let them.

Montana Library Association is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. PO Box 823, Arlee, MT 59821

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