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ANE Professor Defends Academic Freedom

On November 13, the Free Exchange Coalition website published a “guest post from Antioch University” written by Steve Chase, the founding director of Antioch New England’s Environmental Advocacy and Organizing Program in the Department of Environmental Studies. Chase’s post exposes the slanted claims made by Malcolm Kline, the director of the “Accuracy in Academia” organization, who had complained on his website about Antioch’s field studies course, “Environmental Justice in the Mississippi Delta,” which takes students to Louisiana’s “Cancer Alley.” According to Coalition spokesperson Megan Fitzgerald, the Coalition decided to post Chase’s piece from his “The Well-Trained Activist” blog because the piece would help the Coalition “debunk the false stories out there about what actually happens in higher education.”

The Free Exchange Coalition is a network of organizations “committed to advocating for the rights of students and faculty to hear and express a full range of ideas unencumbered by political or ideological interference,” says Fitzgerald, including by the likes of far-right activists like Kline and David Horowitz. The Free Exchange Coalition includes American Association of University Professors, American Federation of Teachers, American Library Association, Association of College & Research Libraries, National Education Association, and the United States Student Association.

Chase said he was honored to have his blog story on Kline’s misrepresentations about Antioch University picked up and posted by the Free Exchange Coalition. As he notes, “Kline seems to believe that Antioch has no right to offer field studies trips or expose students to the views of people from polluted communities, or the community activists among them working for environmental protection, corporate accountability, and social justice.”

Ironically, as noted by Chase in his original post, Kline does not appear to have any problem with ExxonMobil employees interfering with the legal rights of Chase’s students when they were in Louisiana⁠—or with the corporation pressuring the Louisiana Attorney General to force the AG staffer who defended Chase’s students’ legal rights out of a job. Says Chase, “I just can’t take a figure like Kline seriously as a defender of free speech and academic freedom.”

The Free Exchange Coalition’s blog

The EAOP’s Well-Trained Activist blog

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