Culture Wars on Campus: Academic Freedom, the First Amendment, and Partisan Outrage in Polarized Times


Jason M. Shepard & Kathleen B. Culver


Faculty editor: Lawrence A. Alexander
Publication: Law Review
Volume: 55
Issue: 1
Start Page: 87
Month: March
Year: 2018
Type: Article
Instititional Repository (IR) location of full article:


After a California community college professor called the election of President Donald Trump an “act of terrorism” in her classroom the week after the vote, a student-recorded viral video sparked a national conservative media firestorm. Critics said the professor should be fired for outrageous liberal bias, while supporters defended her comments as being protected by academic freedom and the First Amendment. The student, meanwhile, was suspended for his unauthorized recording while defenders decried his punishment as evidence of anti-conservative discrimination and harassment. By examining tensions between faculty and student speech rights, the use of technologies to take ideological disagreements viral through partisan media, and the role of colleges and universities in culture wars, this paper finds deep divisions in views of rights and responsibilities of faculty, students, and institutions in campus free-expression controversies.