Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, Congressman Fred Keller (R-PA), and Congressman Glenn Grothman (R-WI) today introduced the Restoring Academic Freedom on Campus Act to prevent colleges and universities from stifling the free expression of diverse viewpoints and forcing ideological conformity on campus through use of political litmus tests.
Specifically, this bill will ensure institutions of higher education are not compelling faculty, students, or applicants to identify their commitment to any partisan or ideological set of beliefs as part of the hiring, promotion, or student selection process.
“I will always stand up for freedom of speech and freedom of thought on college campuses,” Stefanik said. “Instead of encouraging diversity of ideas, some institutions of higher education are shamefully acting as gatekeepers to ensure their faculty, staff, and students all ascribe to Far Left woke ideology. While this intolerant political monoculture reaches institutions across our nation, this is something that has pervaded our own SUNY system. This growing trend puts ideological conformity above preparing our next generation for life outside the academic bubble and fails to equip students to thoughtfully engage in the competition of ideas. I will continue to stand up against indoctrination and restore academic freedom on college campuses across our nation.”
“America’s institutions of higher education have long committed to being places that welcome diversity and the freedom of expression," Keller said. "However, we have seen an alarming number of universities throw this commitment to the wayside to advance curated partisan ideologies. This type of politics first, education second approach creates an eco-chamber in academia that smothers critical thinking and diverse viewpoints. America was founded through fierce debate and ideological differences, and I thank Congresswoman Stefanik and Congressman Grothman for partnering with our team to protect the First Amendment rights of students and faculty on college campuses."
“Universities attempting to police the ideology of students and faculty during the admissions and hiring process is un-American and a grotesque attack on the right to free expression of our country at large. Like many Republican Congressmen, I’ve heard complaints from students who feel they must lie on exams or in class to get decent grades from increasingly bold left-wing teachers. Academia is healthiest and most productive when students feel comfortable speaking their minds and get exposure to diverse perspectives in the classroom. I am proud to join Congresswoman Stefanik and Congressman Keller in the introduction of the Restoring Academic Freedom on Campus Act to prohibit colleges and universities from following through with this authoritarian ideological mandate on our next generation,” Grothman said.
According to a 2021 report from the American Enterprise Institute, roughly 20% of university faculty hiring and promotion decisions are made after taking a candidates’ “diversity, equity, and inclusion” or “DEI” statement into account. The use of DEI statements or similar litmus tests in the hiring process allow institutions to discriminate on political or ideological grounds, undermining free expression and open debate on contested viewpoints. This practice has also infiltrated the State University of New York, where you can see an example of a question requiring support for DEI in a SUNY Buffalo application here.
Specifically, this bill will prohibit higher education institutions from compelling an individual to identify commitment to or making a statement of personal belief in support of any ideology or movement that:
- Promotes a specific partisan or political set of beliefs
- Promotes a particular viewpoint on an issue of public controversy
- Promotes disparate treatment of the basis of race, including any formulation of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion beyond upholding existing federal law
Read full text of the bill here.