If you are an individual who wants to defend free speech and academic freedom, it is possible to be wary of ‘putting your head above the parapet’. However, there is strength in numbers, and you can easily and quickly form an Academics For Academic Freedom (AFAF) branch at your university.
Most branches arise after an informal meeting between colleagues to discuss how founding an AFAF branch will help you defend free speech and academic freedom at your university. Given the requirements of the Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Act 2023, this aim should not put you in conflict with university management. They will welcome an independent group talking and advising on free speech policies and issues.
Simply inform AFAF that you want to set up a branch and we can get advice and support for you from members of our existing branches. We can put up a page with contact details, a list of founding members, a link to a Twitter handle and the branch email. The page link is simply a way of saying that your group exists and it does not imply that the group is endorsed by, or is in anyway a formal part of the institution.
Membership of a branch is open to all staff and students at a university but when asking people to join they must sign the AFAF Statement of Academic Freedom. This will enable AFAF to add them to our AFAF Network – our membership list.
Please make it clear to all that AFAF branches are independent and non-partisan. They exist to defend free speech and academic freedom and do not adopt any political or other viewpoint. They should defend the free speech and academic freedom of those they disagree with.
How branches came about
The first AFAF branches arose spontaneously from informal discussions at the University of Edinburgh and the University of Derby. Several more branches followed and more are in the process of being formed. This is an exciting grass roots development that could transform the university sector into a beacon of freedom.
(Photo Credit: Tom Fenn)