Let freedom be cherished that learning may flourish.

What We Do

Davidson College

Monitor the State of Free Expression and Ideological Balance on the Davidson Campus

  • We have asked the Trustees to commission annual independent surveys of students, faculty, administrative staff and officers, and alumni to assess the state of freedom of expression and diversity of thought on campus.  The reports of survey results should be written by the external survey firm, amounting to an independent audit of this crucial aspect of college life.
  • In the absence of any Trustees-initiated surveys to date, DFTD commissioned in the fall of 2021 independent surveys of current Davidson students and major donors. The independent reports on the findings of these two surveys will be reported to the Presidential Search Committee, the Board of Trustees, and on this website.
  • We will provide in the website’s Discussion Board a facility for anonymous feedback from members of the Trustees, administration, faculty, and students on policies and incidents that pose a threat to free speech and open discourse or that are ideologically or politically unbalanced. The Discussion Board will also encourage commentary from readers to enrich the discussion on free speech and promote action.

Promote Awareness among Alumni of Free Speech Issues at Davidson and in Academia Around the Country

  • We publish an alumni-driven on-line journal Davidson Freedom Roundup, which focuses on free speech and discourse issues at Davidson and on other campuses. This journal is designed to supplement the role of the official Davidson Learns alumni journal, which lacks a regular, substantive Letters to the Editor section and is almost entirely promotional, rather than issues-focused.
  • In the current political, higher education, and media climate, those who speak out to protect free speech are often labeled as a conservative fringe minority. Yet a substantial number of highly reputable organizations exist to inform the free speech debate and push back on the threat posed by prevailing one-sided orthodoxies. These include the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, (ACTA), the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal, the National Association of Scholars (NAS), and on-campus reporter websites such as The College Fix and Campus Reform. In the DFTD on-line Davidson Freedom Roundup journal, we cull these and other such sources to provide a compendium of news and research developments particularly relevant to free speech and open debate issues at Davidson.

Assist Students, Faculty, and Alumni/ae in Promoting an Ideologically Balanced, Free Speech/Discourse Environment at Davidson

  • We support the activities of the Davidson chapter of Young Americans for Freedom, including helping finance external speakers brought to campus to provide ideological balance and enrich the diversity of discourse.
  • We plan to establish a near-campus office for DFTD that will house our small staff and provide a safe space for discussion and action-planning on free speech issues at Davidson.

Encourage the Davidson College Board of Trustees to Exercise Greater Vigilance on Campus Freedom of Speech and Ideological Balance and to Make These Issues Top Trustee Concerns

  • We ask alumni trustee candidates to state on their election ballot the priority they will place on safeguarding free speech and ideological balance at Davidson.
  • We make certain that Trustees are informed of counter-free speech and counter-open discourse policies and incidents as they arise and inappropriate political activities as they occur on campus.
  • We work with the Presidential Search Committee to ensure that candidates are asked to declare their views on free expression and ideological balance and regarding on-campus ideological and political activism by a college president. We laid out 12 criteria and priorities for the next president in our Letter of September 6, 2021, to the Chairman of the Presidential Search Committee.  [Link]

Encourage Student, Faculty, Staff, and Alumni/ae Activism to Address Concerns

  • We encourage alumni/ae to add their names to the PETITION TO THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES OF DAVIDSON COLLEGE THAT THE COLLEGE SIGN ON TO THE CHICAGO PRINCIPLES OF FREE EXPRESSION and to enlist fellow alums to sign the petition.

Participate in the National Alumni Free Speech Alliance

  • The Alumni Free Speech Alliance brings together alumni groups devoted to supporting free speech and academic freedom at their colleges and universities.  The founding members of the Alliance are alumni groups from Cornell University (Cornell Free Speech Alliance), Davidson College (DFTD), Princeton University (Princetonians for Free Speech), the University of Virginia (The Jefferson Council), and Washington & Lee University (The Generals Redoubt).
  • Members of the Alliance believe that free speech and academic freedom are critical to the advancement of knowledge and to the very concept of a university. Yet surveys show most students at colleges and universities have little understanding of these principles. According to the “2021 College Free Speech Ranking” published by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), on many campuses, most students actually oppose free speech. On many campuses, students and faculty are attacked for exercising free speech, and according to the FIRE survey, over 80 percent of students at the schools surveyed said they self-censor in the classroom, on campus, and online.
  • All too often, college administrators and boards have failed to push back against the growing culture of intolerance on their campuses. The alumni groups forming the Alliance believe that to preserve the purpose of their institutions, alumni must become involved to make the case for free speech and academic freedom and to provide support for faculty and students who speak up on their campuses.
  • The Alliance provides a mechanism for the exchange of information among its members on substantive and organizational issues. A priority for the Alliance is to encourage the creation of alumni free speech groups for other colleges and universities, and the Alliance will create tools for the creation of such new groups.