Tag Archives: University staff

Academic freedom: from higher professionalism to recklessness

On the Kazakhstan Educational Research Association (KERA) conference speakers of the panel discussion consider the thought-provoking theme “academic freedom”. One of the speakers expressed own opinion that “it is not possible to control the way how professors can use this unique right; they may promote the terrorism or the suicide”. In other words, professors with academic freedom right are people in a risk group for the students, the government, and the society because they are knowledgeable to defend their point of view and nobody knows what type of idea they have in mind. However, the question is how smart and professional professors can be confusing in this term and is there any example of such abuse.

Doughty (2010) explains that the concept “academic freedom” defines differently for people with different perspectives as it relates to “democracy”, “equity” and “justice”. However, attempts to clarify that “Classically stated, academic freedom includes the right or teachers and students to pursue the truth without interference from illicit ideological influence by church and state. In practice, even this minimal definition is more complicated than it seems.” (Doughty, 2011). In this way, academic freedom is the right to explore and discover things that are limited to study by the state or other stakeholders.  At the same time, it turns out that the institutions do not support academic freedom in order to preserve their status, networks, and financial support. In other situations, it looks like institutions trust to their professors.

Dr. Rabab Abdullahi

Photo credit: https://www.solidarity-us.org/site/node/4220

There is an egregious example of using academic freedom as a way to promote terrorism. Rabab Abdulhadi is an associate professor of Ethnic Studies and Race and Resistance Studies at San Francisco State University (SFSU) (Canary Mission, 2017).  Dr. Rabab Abdulhadi became popular as a mentor and sponsor of students who are related with terror. Her student Mohammad Hamad identified by FBI as a terrorist because he posted his picture holding knife and expressed his desire to kill people, especially Jews soldiers. He is from Palestine and he wanted to protect his homeland from colonizers. San Francisco State University (SFSU) sent his down and didn’t give an official explanation of doing so (AMCHA, 2014). Today there is no information about Mohammad Hamad.


Mohammad Hamad


Photo credit: http://www.amchainitiative.org/amcha-responses-sfsu/

SFSU supports academic freedom and has the Academic freedom committee, which uses the Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure described by the American Association of University Professors. It says “Teachers are entitled to full freedom in research and in the publication of the results, subject to the adequate performance of their other academic duties; but research for pecuniary return should be based upon an understanding with the authorities of the institution.” (AAUP, 1940). Dr. Rabab Abdulhadi guided by these principles promoted terrorism to her students and her speech was recorded and published in the Internet. AMCHA initiative, which is the “non-profit organization dedicated to investigating, documenting, educating about, and combating antisemitism at institutions of higher education in America” (AMCHA, 2014). They presented examples of promoting terrorism by Dr. Rabab Abdulhadi and sent a letter to the President of SFSU on the fear about Jewish students in SFSU.

Before scrutinizing information about Dr. Rabab Abdulhadi there weren’t any thoughts that academic freedom may be the serious problem, which provides with dangerous consequences. The World is not the same as it was before!   Will you support academic freedom at your University?


AAUP. (1940). 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure. Retrieved      February 18, 2017, from: https://www.aaup.org/report/1940-statement-principles-academic-freedom-and-tenure

AMCHA. (2014). Four Jewish groups to Pres Wong: SFSU prof promoting terrorism; investigate. Retrieved February 18, 2017, from: http://www.amchainitiative.org/jewish-groups-to-pres-wong-sfsu-prof-promoting-terrorism-investigate/

Canary Mission. (2017). Rabab Abdulhadi. Retrieved February 18, 2017, from https://canarymission.org/professors/rabab-abdulhadi/

Doughty, H. A. (2010). Academic Freedom Revisited. College Quarterly13(1), n1.