Policy Name:
Academic Freedom

Tom Jaynes
Executive Vice President

Academics and Student Engagement

Effective Date:
December 2015

Next Review Date:


SACSCOC Principles of Accreditation 6.4


Policy Statement

Durham Technical Community College preserves an environment for excellence in teaching, learning, and inquiry by sustaining freedom of expression, scholarly pursuit of knowledge, spirited and open debate, and intellectual exchange. Academic freedom is vital to the college community’s shared goal of the pursuit of knowledge, is fundamental to the exploration of new ideas, and is essential as we learn from one another.

College Responsibilities

Responsibility must accompany the rights and privileges of academic freedom; throughout the educational process, the college will sustain an environment that allows for and protects the greatest possible freedom of expression, encourages openness and discourse, and supports rigorous inquiry. In the course of inquiry, views expressed by members of the college community will conflict. The college expects this dynamic to occur and will not attempt to filter ideas or viewpoints that others may find disagreeable, unwelcome, or objectionable. To support an open environment, the college will remain neutral on partisan political matters unless, out of necessity, the college is a direct party in discourse. This neutral position is maintained to encourage an environment where faculty, students, and employees can express individual points of view and to insulate the college from undue political influence or pressure. As such, the views of individuals of our community are distinct from and should not be considered as the official views of the college. The college will not penalize or discipline members of our community because of the exercise of academic freedom.

Faculty Responsibilities

Responsibility must accompany the rights and privileges of academic freedom; throughout the educational process, faculty are encouraged to create an environment of academic excellence and to explore various points of view. Faculty are expected to be accurate, objective, and purposeful. Material presented or discussed should be related to the course's subject matter. Faculty are expected to present and discuss assignments and material relevant to the student learning outcomes presented in the course outline. Faculty are responsible to set reasonable rules for appropriate classroom discourse, including limits to speech that is unrelated to class material or substantially impairs the rights of others.

Community Responsibilities

Responsibility must accompany the rights and privileges of academic freedom; throughout the educational process, members of the college community, which include faculty, staff, students, and guests, are encouraged to participate in spirited and open debate as well as intellectual exchange. In the course of inquiry, individual members of our college community may express viewpoints that other individuals may find disagreeable, unwelcome, or objectionable. All individual members of the college community also bear the responsibility to distinguish those behaviors that may violate the college’s student Code of Conduct or employee Due Process Policy. Verbal harassment of or threats directed toward any member of the college community; breach of peace on college property or at any college-sponsored function in a manner that disturbs the privacy of other individuals and/or the instructional program; violation of college regulations or policies, and breach of any federal, state, or local criminal law either on campus or at any college-sponsored activity are examples of individual conduct violations that are not protected under the Academic Freedom Policy.

Right to a Grievance

All members of the college community have the right to due process. College employees should use the Employee Grievance Procedure in the college’s Due Process Policy to resolve a grievance involving academic freedom. Students should use the Student Grievance Procedure to resolve a grievance involving academic freedom. Guests of the college should contact the Vice President, Student Learning and Instructional Services/Chief Academic Officer with questions, concerns, or information regarding due process. The support of academic freedom is not intended to supersede performance issues, college policies or procedures, or municipal, state, or federal laws. The college will continue to evaluate the work of each employee on a regular basis. Ultimately, each employee is responsible to work toward accomplishing the mission and goals of the college.


Academic Freedom – An individual’s right to engage in intellectual debate, research, speech, or written or electronic correspondence, on and off campus, without fear of censorship, retaliation, or sanction. Academic freedom encompasses both the individual’s and college’s right to maintain academic standards and gives faculty members substantial latitude in deciding how to teach the courses to which they are assigned; encourage intellectual integrity; sustain pedagogical approaches consistent with the discipline taught; and evaluate student work. Academic freedom preserves the right of individuals to disagree with college policies or procedures. Academic freedom includes the right for one individual to challenge the views of another individual.

Academic freedom does not involve expression that substantially impairs the rights of others or the imposition of political, religious, or philosophical beliefs on individuals of the college community. Academic Freedom does not provide protection of faculty who demonstrate professional ignorance, incompetence, or dishonesty with regard to their assigned discipline or fields of expertise, or who engage in arbitrary or capricious evaluation of students.

Students – Any individuals, regardless of age, who are currently enrolled in Durham Tech courses, who have active program status, and/or who are currently participating in Durham Tech instructional programs, including Middle College High School, Career and College Promise, and College and Career Readiness programs. Individuals with active program status are those who have been accepted into a program, have taken classes within the program, and have been continuously enrolled at the College since beginning the program.