8.1.4 - Freedom of Inquiry & Academic Freedom

Last updated on May 30, 2023

POLICY: Spoon River College values and supports freedom of speech and freedom of inquiry.  Further, Spoon River College acknowledges that faculty members are entitled to full freedom in research and in the publication of the results subject to the adequate performance of his/her academic duties.


This policy applies to all Spoon River College employees and students during work, class, or during any activity involving the College.  In addition, visitors, vendors, contractors and all other non-employees are expected to recognize and comply with this policy.


  1. Freedom of Inquiry:Free speech is a central tenet of a free and democratic society. The College encourages and supports open, vigorous, and challenging debate. Further, as a public institution, the College will sustain a higher and more open standard for freedom of inquiry and free speech than may be expected or preferred in private settings.

    Free inquiry and free speech are the cornerstones of an academic institution committed to the creation and transfer of knowledge. Expression of diverse points of view is of the highest importance, not solely for those who present and defend some view but for those who would hear, disagree, and pass judgment on those views. The belief that an opinion is harmful, false, and in any other way despicable, detestable, offensive or "just plain wrong" cannot be grounds for its suppression.

    The College supports free speech with vigor, including the right of presenters to offer opinion, the right of the audience to hear what is presented, and the right of protesters to engage with speakers in order to challenge ideas, so long as the protest does not disrupt or stifle the free exchange of ideas. It is the responsibility of both speakers and listeners to respect others and to promote a culture of mutual inquiry throughout the College community.

  2. Academic Freedom:The college environment is an open intellectual forum where various opinions may be freely expressed and openly discussed.  Faculty are entitled to freedom in the classroom to use materials and to discuss topics, which are relevant to the subject, appropriate to his/her teaching methods and conducive to the attainment of course objectives.

    The faculty member is a citizen, a member of a learned profession, and an officer of an educational institution.  When he/she speaks or writes as a citizen, he/she should make every effort to indicate that he/she is not an institutional spokesperson.  His/her special position in the community imposes special obligations.  As a person of learning and an educational officer, he/she should remember that the public might judge his/her profession and institution by his/her utterances.  Hence he/she should at all times be accurate and show respect for the opinions of others.

    The College will not refuse to provide books and other materials merely because of the race or nationality, or because of the doctrinal disapproval of the contents.  With respect to faculty rights and academic freedom, the Trustees adopt the position that in a world of rapid change and recurrent crises a college best serves its community, not as a stronghold of a rigid tradition, but as an open intellectual forum where varying shades of opinion may be freely expressed and fairly debated.  Position values evolve from free exchange of ideas among broadly informed citizens and the progressive evolution of American institutions may depend upon the quality of flexibility in meeting changing social and economic needs.  The American democratic way of life is strong enough to stand on its own merits and substantial enough to survive comparison with that of any other system.