Fellows Meet with Vice Provost Caroline Laguerre-Brown and Senior Counsel Richard Weitzner about Academic Freedom at GW

Fellows Meet with Vice Provost Caroline Laguerre-Brown and Senior Counsel Richard Weitzner about Academic Freedom at GW
June 11, 2018

On Tuesday, April 10th, the Fellows coordinated a meeting with Vice Provost for Diversity, Equity, and Community Engagement Caroline Laguerre-Brown and Senior Counsel Richard Weitzner to discuss the intricacies of academic freedom at GW. This conversation was organized after Fellows attended the 2018 Black Heritage Celebration Keynote, where student remarks illuminated the fact that GW Professor Kip Lornell uses the N-word in the classroom. As the Fellows processed the event, we raised questions of how university policies protect and bar speech. Vice Provost Laguerre-Brown and Senior Counsel Weitzner provided an amazing overview of the different levels of policy and history contributing to the larger blanket of academic freedom at GW today.

The conversation shifted towards an action-oriented plan for how to better express academic freedom at GW and also how to provide students with the tools to feel heard, safe, and protected from damaging speech. Vice Provost Laguerre-Brown noted our suggestions for adding a section to course syllabi detailing how students can report professors’ questionable or inappropriate behavior. The concept behind the section would be to mirror the information professors provide about academic integrity, thus making both student and professor accountability visibly valued. Still, it was clear that this conversation was just the tip of a vast iceberg. To demonstrate the Fellows’ dedication to diversity and inclusion, many of us actively participated in focus groups for GW's 2018 Action Plan for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. With the fall semester soon approaching, be sure to follow the Fellowship’s commitment to these topics and conversations!

 

Emily Somberg

PAF Class of 2019
BA '17
MA '19