David Rabban ’71 will speak on “Free Speech, Academic Freedom, and the American University” during Wesleyan’s annual Constitution Day Lecture.
The event will take place at 7 p.m. Sept. 17 in the Smith Reading Room inside Olin Memorial Library. The lecture, hosted by the Friends of the Wesleyan Library is free of charge and open to the public.
This talk will cover the judicial treatment of free speech and academic freedom at American universities from the 1950s to the present. It will explore the First Amendment rights of professors, students and universities as institutions, and the tensions that arise when these rights conflict. Topics will include the regulation of classroom speech, the constitutionality of campus “speech codes,” student political expression and association, the relationship between academic freedom and affirmative action, and the extent to which general First Amendment principles have been modified in the academic context.
Rabban graduated from Wesleyan in 1971 and from Stanford Law School in 1974. After working in a labor law firm and as staff counsel for the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), he joined the faculty of the University of Texas School of Law in 1983. He served as general counsel of the AAUP from 1998 to 2006 and as chair of its Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure from 2006 to 2012.
His book, Free Speech in Its Forgotten Years, 1870-1920 (Cambridge, 1997) was co-winner of the Morris D. Forkosch Prize presented by The Journal of the History of Ideas for “the best book in intellectual history published in 1997” and winner of the 1998 Eli M. Oboler Award of the American Library Association Intellectual Freedom Round Table for “the most significant work in intellectual freedom published in 1996 and 1997.” His most recent book is Law’s History: American Legal Thought and the Transatlantic Turn to History (Cambridge 2013).
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In addition, the Friends of the Wesleyan Library will host their annual Fall Book Sale from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 27 in the lobby of Olin Library. More than 3,000 academic and popular books will be for for sale in a dozen categories. Most are priced $1-$5, with special books costing $10 or more.