The University of Arkansas now faces a lawsuit against their own professors. The lawsuit begins with the university’s new tenure policies that are reportedly placing an undue burden on academic freedom.

New tenure policies force professors to monitor their speech and teachings while in the classroom. Under this tenure policy, teachers face losing their lifelong acquired benefits based on what they say in the classroom.

According to the lawsuit, “The Revised Policy greatly expands the grounds for a Class member to be fired, which facially and as applied has a serious impact on the Class members’ right to speak freely at his or her respective academic institution.”

“The Class members have tenure and academic freedom to ensure a robust exchange of ideas, free from censorship and retaliation by authority…effectively destroys the concept of tenure and academic freedom,” reads the lawsuit.

Through the enforcement of vague rules, educators in Arkansas face a hit to academic freedom. 

The new policy offers an opportunity for professors to be victimized by broadened definitions based on what they choose to say, an individual right guaranteed under the First Amendment.

The negative effects include professors feeling attacked by these guidelines and have already felt the need to be cautious around their students.

Specifically, according to Breitbart News, the revised policy also “offers a list of 12 non-exclusive ‘grounds’ that are more than mere examples of conduct but broad and vague descriptions of conduct that constitute the necessary justification for any administrator to dismiss a faculty member for ’cause’.”

After virtually receiving no support from professors, the lawsuit is filed against the Board of Trustees from the University of Arkansas. Three plaintiffs, all professors, spoke out to file the case.

Professor of Pharmacology and Toxicology Philip Palade, English professor Gregory Borse, and law professor J. Thomas Sullivan openly stated that this was a violation of their rights.

“I have read the changes and they dramatically infringe both contact rights and academic freedom,” Robert Steinbuch, a University of Arkansas at Little Rock law professor, told Campus Reform. “I couldn’t have written a more direct, Mao-ist attack on free speech if I tried.”

University of Arkansas spokesman Nate Hinkel sent an email to Campus Reform so that the university’s position may be heard:

“The UA System and the Board of Trustees are committed to academic freedom and free speech, which continue to be protected under these updated Board policies,” Hinkel said, “The policy revisions did nothing to change that commitment.”

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