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 such surveys, in the fall of 2021 DFTD commissioned confidential independent surveys of Davidson students and major Davidson donors, the results of which are reported on this website. The analysis of the findings and survey report were done independently by staff of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA).
• With DFTD’s encouragement, FIRE has included Davidson students in its annual survey of some 150 universities and colleges in 2022, and will publish the report on findings, by school, in the fall of 2022. The FIRE report will rank Davidson compared to other institutions in the survey on the state of student free expression.
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 on this website, which focuses on free speech and discourse issues at Davidson and on other campuses.
• 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.
Encourage Student, Faculty, Staff, and Alumni/ae Activism to Address Freedom of Expression Concerns
• We encourage alumni/ae to add their names to the April 2022 Petition to the Davidson Board of Trustees to formally adopt the Davidson College Commitment to Freedom of Expression Statement produced by a president-appointed task force consisting of one trustee, two faculty members, two students, and one alumnus on December 1, 2021. The task force included one member of the board of DFTD. The Statement is here and alumni supporters can sign the petition by emailing John Craig at [email protected], providing your name as you wish it to appear on the petition and your Davidson class year.
Assist Davidson’s Administration, Students, Faculty, and Alumni/ae in Promoting an Ideologically Balanced, Free Speech/Discourse Environment at Davidson
• We look forward to working with incoming Davidson President Douglas Hicks on ways to improve the free speech and viewpoint diversity environment at Davidson.
• We encourage building into Davidson New Student Orientation a strong segment on the December 1, 2021, Davidson College Commitment to Freedom of Expression Statement and on student responsibilities for supporting free expression and vigorous debate on issues in the classroom and throughout campus life.
• 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 endorse the work of the Davidson Deliberative Citizenship Initiative and participate in its events.
Encourage the Davidson College Board of Trustees and President 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 encourage alumni/ae to get informed about where alumni trustee candidates stand on freedom of expression and viewpoint diversity issues at Davidson and to vote for candidates who support adoption of the Davidson College Commitment to Freedom of Expression Statement.
• 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.
Participate in the National Alumni Free Speech Alliance
The Alumni Free Speech Alliance (AFSA) brings together alumni groups devoted to supporting free speech and academic freedom at their colleges and universities.
Current members are:
o Bucknell: Open Discourse Coalition
o Cornell: Cornell Free Speech Alliance
o Davidson: Davidsonians for Freedom of Thought & Discourse
o Harvard: Harvard Alumni for Free Speech
o Lafayette: Alumni/Alumnae Coalition for Lafayette
o Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT Free Speech Alliance
o Princeton: Princetonians for Free Speech
o University of North Carolina: UNC Free Speech Alliance
o University of Virginia: The Jefferson Council+
o Virginia Military Institute: The Spirit of VMI
o Washington & Lee: The Generals Redoubt
o Wofford: Alumni for the Wofford Way
o Yale: Fight for Yale's Future
• 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 offers help in the