The Center for Campus Free Speech (CCFS) declares that its mission is “to protect and to promote free speech on campuses” — both inside and outside the classroom. “Universities improve the quality of our society and strengthen future leaders through the discovery of new knowledge and the questioning of conventional wisdom,” says the organization. “These goals are best achieved in a thriving marketplace of ideas whose participants are actively encouraged to seek out and exchange new ideas while exploring a diverse array of opinions.” Toward these ends, the Center “acts as a clearinghouse of information, provides specialized support to campuses, and connects concerned educators, administrators, lawyers and students into a national network.”
CCFS is closely tied to the campus organization U.S. Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG), which uses its revenues to underwrite a host of leftist and environmentalist causes. The Center is staffed by current and former U.S. PIRG operatives — such as CCFS Director Megan Fitzgerald, a veteran of several U.S. PIRG state chapters. The Center’s five-member Advisory Board includes current U.S. PIRG Vice Chair Kika Gilbert, a former organizing director of the Massachusetts PIRG, and a onetime employee of PIRG’s Oregon branch. Still another Advisory Board member, David Vladeck, is the Director of the Public Citizen Litigation Group, the self-styled “citizen advocacy organization” founded in 1971 by Ralph Nader, who also launched the U.S. PIRG movement that same year.
CCFS is a strong opponent of the Academic Bill of Rights, which was crafted in 2003 by the Center for the Study of Popular Culture (Now, the David Horowitz Freedom Center), and whose tenets include the following: “Academic freedom consists in protecting the intellectual independence of professors, researchers and students in the pursuit of knowledge and the expression of ideas from interference by legislators or authorities within the institution itself. This means that no political, ideological or religious orthodoxy will be imposed on professors and researchers through the hiring or tenure or termination process, or through any other administrative means by the academic institution.” As CSPC founder David Horowitz puts it: “In other words, an education — as distinct from an indoctrination — makes students aware of a spectrum of scholarly views on matters of controversy and opinion, and does not make particular answers to such controversial matters the goal of the instruction. … All too frequently, professors behave as political advocates in the classroom, express opinions in a partisan manner on controversial issues irrelevant to the academic subject, and even grade students in a manner designed to enforce their conformity to professorial prejudices.”
According to the Center for Campus Free Speech, the Academic Bill of Rights (ABOR) is “a political tool to deny the academic freedom and free speech rights of faculty and students,” and thus would be more accurately labeled a “Bill of Restrictions.” CCFS claims that “Horowitz’s bill is designed to shut down ‘controversial’ material and classes”; that “[i]t’s designed to strip the war out of a Middle Eastern studies class [and] to strip evolution out of a biology class”; and that “[b]y preventing faculty from presenting on any issue they deem pertinent, ABOR tries to keep some topics out of classroom discussions” — thereby creating “a chilling effect on what professors feel able to teach and students feel able to discuss.” “The goal,” says CCFS, “is to expose the Horowitz-created ‘Academic Bill of Rights’ and related initiatives … for the fraud they are: a well-funded campaign to deprive faculty and students of their right to teach and learn with the full protection of academic freedom.”