Have you ever wondered about Shorter’s (recently former) motto, Lux et Veritas or Lux Veritas? Coming from the Latin Lux (light) and Veritas (truth), Shorter was declaring to the world that this was a place where Light, or enlightenment, was its standard along with Truth. The purpose of a university is to seek Truth, not THE truth, but Truth. THE Truth is an absolute.
The Fundamentalists would declare that their truth is THE truth and would demand that everyone accept their dogma as THE truth. That perspective is perfectly acceptable as a practice of organized religion (notice we don’t say faith, but religion). THE truth, however, has no place in the academic world. What stands in its place is simply Truth, and finding and determining Truth is a constantly evolving process.
The notion of Academic Freedom comes from the idea that in the quest for Truth, faculty and students alike join together in free inquiry. University students are schooled in critical thinking – a process of questioning assumptions to decide whether a claim is true, false or somewhere in between. They are not indoctrinated; they are educated.
It is not indoctrination for a student to be taught, for example, the theories of evolution. That is instruction. Students must then be free to examine, defend or rebut these theories. That is the principle of free inquiry.
Academic Freedom truly occurs when the university rejects indoctrination, supports a balanced and fair accounting of various viewpoints, and rejects as unacceptable a hostile learning environment.
We believe that Light and Truth at Shorter are in grave jeopardy. We believe that academic freedom is being threatened and the price is being paid by our students and our faculty. We ask you to join us in our quest to restore Light and Truth to the Hill.