May 19, 2001
SAFS is pleased to present the Furedy Academic Freedom Award to Julie Bosman who today is graduating at the University of Wisconsin at Madison with a diploma in journalism. You will all be familiar with Julie from her article in the Wall Street Journal (reprinted in the April SAFS newsletter) defending, as editor-in-chief, the student newspaper The Badger Herald's publication (in February this year) of David Horowitz' ad arguing against reparations for slavery in the United States.
Julie was nominated for the award by SAFS' board member Harvey Shulman, our inveterate and invaluable scanner of the web for news relating to academic freedom. Harvey immediately recog-nized the independence and courage represented by Julie's defence of freedom of speech and wrote congratulations to her before making his nomination to the Board.
In nominating Julie Bosman, Harvey said SAFS was heartened by her courageous and scrupulous actions in advocating free speech and a free press.
To quote from the Board's letter to her: "Your steadfastness has precipitated a major debate in universities and the media, and we believe you have been a catalyst for reflection and consideration in the academy by those who have, regrettably, failed to distinguish between free and open discussion of ideas and those who defer to the 'politics of comfort' and countenance censorship."
Our certificate says: In exercising her duties as editor-in-chief at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Julie Bosman has demonstrated exemplary commitment to those core values of the academy that the Society for Academic Freedom and Scholarship seeks to uphold. We are particularly pleased to see a young student paper editor receive this award, at a time when we think that far too many such editors, to say nothing of faculty and university administrators, are caving in to pressure for political correctness on campuses. As we have seen in the case of the York University law school student paper Obiter Dicta recently, this pressure is a menacing presence in Canada.
The latest development in this issue on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus is that 70 members of the Administration, including the Dean of Students, placed a counter-advertisement in The Badger Herald this month. It castigated the editors, called the publication of the ad 'destructive' of a welcoming climate in the university, said the First Amendment is an obstacle to education and warned students to be more careful in asserting their freedoms. This was an astounding and intimidating gesture. It provided the opportunity for the editors to again speak out: "Universities should be places where students are exposed to a diversity of thought. What the Administration does not seem to understand is that ideas are meant to be debated, not indoctrinated."
Julie Bosman is remarkable for her clear-sighted understanding of freedom of speech, her calm resolve in defending her views, and her personal bravery (she was willing to face an angry mob but campus police intervened). We congratulate her and wish her well in her future career.