Academic Freedom Tested

University professors across the country have found their freedom to speak about the issues surrounding September 11 hemmed in by incensed students, alumni, and university officials. Academics have been shouted down by critics who say that now isn't the time to say anything that might offend others. At California State University at Chico, a professor who criticized U.S. foreign policy was heckled by students and received an e-mail barrage of hate messages from around the United States. The president of the University of New Mexico has said he will "vigorously pursue" disciplinary action against a professor who made a joke in class about the Pentagon attack. "There is real pressure during times of national duress for conformity, for unity, and for patriotism," says Paul K. McMasters, who is the First Amendment ombudsman at the Freedom Forum. "At a time when the country could most benefit from the diverse perspective that we depend on academe to provide, there will be immense pressure on those in the academic community to repress their views."