Matthew Wielicki, University of Alabama Assistant Professor of Geological Science, is on the right track, but he’s in a vanishing minority.
We’re literally moving away from the foundations of academia. If professors have any hesitancy in their speech, if students are hesitant to ask questions, if there is a decrease in dialogue because of a fear of retribution—that’s the fundamental principles that universities were founded on.
Unfortunately, he says, professors have precisely that hesitancy to speak freely. And this regarding a December 2022 poll by the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression that found that
[m]ore than half of the nearly 1,500 college faculty members…were afraid of losing their jobs or reputations because of their words being used against them, even if unfairly. About a third said they don’t feel they can freely express their opinions.
“I definitely experienced that,” Wielicki said.
Even more unfortunately, destructively to our nation’s ability to grow following generations of inquisitive children and adults, these self-censoring “professors,” instead of teaching their subject matter, are teaching two critical and pernicious things. They’re teaching, by example—modeling, in the precious lexicon—cowardice. And they’re teaching that morals don’t matter; it’s better to put career, to put personal gain, ahead of morality.