WSU’s appeal in Demers v Austin is an affront to free speech


Why are the WSU Board of Regents, Dr. Elson Floyd’s administration and the Washington state Attorney General’s office trying to kill shared governance? And why are the WSU Faculty Senate and Edward R. Murrow College of Communication professors allowing them to do that?

These are two questions that professors across the country are asking in the wake of a Ninth Circuit Court decision on Sept. 4 that said faculty have a First Amendment right to criticize administrators and offer their own plans for restructuring and improving programs (Demers v. Austin; I am the plaintiff in the case).

The 3-0 decision is being hailed by the American Association of University Professors, the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression and the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education as a major victory for faculty who cherish academic freedom, free-speech ideals and shared governance.

Yet WSU is going to appeal this decision and, it if wins, every faculty member at WSU and those in nine western states (the Ninth Circuit) will lose the right to publicly criticize administrators’ policies without fear of retaliation.

As John Stuart Mill once remarked; “Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.”

David Demers

Arizona State University

-The opinions expressed in these letters to the editor are not necessarily those of the staff of The Daily Evergreen or those of Student Publications.