Report on Chicago Academic Freedom Forum


In Chicago, sponsored by the Roosevelt Adjunct Faculty Organization (RAFO), IEA/NEA, we had a forum called “Academic Freedom Under Fire” October 16.  The speakers included NEA President Reg Weaver, United Faculty of Florida Pres. Tom Auxter, Kathy Sproles of NEA’s National Council on Higher Education, Roosevelt professor Emeritus Jack Metzgar, and academic freedom scholar John K. Wilson.  It was well attended, over 70 and house was full. 


The impetus for the event is a major grievance RAFO has been fighting for a year over the academic freedom violation in the firing of Douglas Giles, an adjunct philosophy instructor who was terminated, essentially, for allowing free discussion of Islam, Judaism, Zionism and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in his world religion class.  We were able to announce a near-settlement of the case at Roosevelt, but the forum revealed that attacks on academic freedom nationally, especially around issues of Islam and the war in the Middle East, are increasing.  


We are encouraged by the response at the forum, but, as noted by many of the speakers, the dangers of restricting discussion on campus are getting more severe, especially for those majority of college teachers who are not tenured or tenure-track.  This also restricts the academic freedom of our students as well, since faculty teaching conditions are students’ learning conditions.


Joe Berry, <>

RAFO Department Rep and Executive Board

Chair, Chicago Coalition of Contingent Academic Labor