Academic Freedom Prevails at Trinity College

In a victory for academic freedom, the administration of Trinity College in Connecticut acknowledged today that Professor Johnny Williams’s social media posts “were protected by academic freedom and did not violate Trinity College policies.”

The administration’s statement observed that “Our understanding of academic freedom in America today is rooted largely in a joint statement from 1940 by the American Association of University Professors and the Association of American Colleges that asserted the fundamental importance of academic freedom for the common good and the advancement of truth.”

Williams had been placed on involuntary leave after reports on the website Campus Reform about his posts were followed by threats and the closure of the campus. The administration’s statement notes that “the initial report by Campus Reform led to distortions and an ensuing harassment that has become troublingly common for people of color and those who speak out on issues of race and racism.”

The AAUP had urged the Trinity administration to lift Williams’s suspension and planned to send a committee of inquiry to visit Trinity on July 20. With the resolution of this case, our further intervention is no longer warranted. Professor Williams has agreed to remain on a leave of absence through the fall semester.

We applaud the excellent work of our local chapter at Trinity College, which organized expressions of solidarity and opposition to the administration’s actions.

Media Contact: 
Laura Markwardt – lmarkwardt@aaup.org / 202-594-3635
Publication Date: 
Friday, July 14, 2017