The University of Southern Maine will be the place for debate and discussion about free speech in university classrooms at 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, January 31, in the Moot Court Room, University of Maine School of Law, Deering Ave., and Portland. The free panel discussion, “Controversies in the Classroom: The Academic Bill of Rights, Advocacy Teaching, and Free Speech,” will examine the issues that led to academic bill of rights legislation across the country.

Republican-led academic bill of rights legislation has been proposed in many states by lawmakers who felt colleges and universities employed a greater number of liberal faculty than conservative faculty. (Maine’s legislation, LD 1194, received an “ought not to pass” from the Majority Committee that was adopted by the Senate on May 20, 2005.)

This USM panel will feature faculty who hold a range of political beliefs:

Professor of American and New England Studies Ardis Cameron, a Guggenheim and National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow, is a longtime scholar activist interested in social justice.

Interim Dean of the School of Business and Professor of Business Administration John Voyer is concerned that expressions of centrist and conservative views are not encouraged.

Associate Professor of History Eileen Eagan has written about 20th century student movements.

Associate Professor of Arts and Humanities Eve Raimon presented a paper earlier this month about academic freedom in the classroom at the annual meeting of the Association of American Colleges and Universities.

Associate Professor of Women’s Studies and Sociology Wendy Chapkis will moderate the panel that is sponsored by USM’s Women’s Studies Program.

This event concludes USM’s Constitution Day series that began last September following a Congressional mandate requiring educational institutions receiving federal funds to observe the signing of the United States Constitution.

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