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U. Senate passes resolution on doxxing, cuts Chicago Statement references

The Rutgers University Senate, made up of representatives from the University community, cast a vote on a resolution pertaining to academic freedom and doxxing. – Photo by Christian Sanchez

On Friday, the Rutgers University Senate voted on the Rutgers University Senate Resolution in Support of Free Speech on Campus. Ultimately, the Senate passed an amended version of the resolution with 72 votes in favor and 14 opposed to it.

Fauzan Amjad, a student charter trustee in the University Senate, academic affairs chair of the Rutgers University Student Assembly and a School of Arts and Sciences senior, brought forth the proposal from the Assembly with an altered title, "Rutgers University Senate Resolution on Doxxing."

The resolution, which focuses on preventing doxxing and supporting victims in the University community, no longer referenced the Chicago Statement, the University of Chicago's policy regarding freedom of expression on campus.

Thomas Figueira, a distinguished professor in the Department of Classics and a University Senator, said he is concerned about the resolution because the Rutgers administration has weaponized claims of doxxing in the past. He said the proposal may create a path for administrators to commit acts of retaliation toward outspoken faculty.

"There are rules about libelous communication, slanderous communication, and I would be very reluctant, as a kind of First Amendment absolutist, to do anything that would cast a shadow on people's freedom — even freedom to be excessive (at) times as long as it lies within the bounds of not of harassment or legality," Figueira said.

Paul Boxer, a professor in the Department of Psychology at Rutgers—Newark and a University Senator, asked Amjad if the University has existing policies against doxxing.

Amjad said that while he has found resources addressing doxxing on the Rutgers American Association of University Professors and American Federation of Teachers (AAUP-AFT) website, he has not found them outlined in University policies.

Audrey Truschke, a professor in the Department of History at Rutgers—Newark and a University Senator, said she supports the resolution based on her experience with doxxing during her tenure as chair of the AAUP-AFT's Academic Freedom Committee.

"For those of you who have never faced doxxing personally, which is hopefully most people in this room, I have, and it is absolutely terrifying, alright?" Truschke said. "We're talking about people putting online your name, your phone number, your address, where you live … So, the threats are very real."

She said that doxxing does not constitute recording what is already public and that the University currently approaches the doxxing of faculty and staff in a distant manner.

“And so, to me, the real force of the resolution is saying, 'This is a Rutgers problem.' The administration needs to take it seriously. I support this," Truschke said.

After approximately 1 hour of discussion, Troy Shinbrot, a professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering and a University Senator, motioned for the Senate to vote on the completed, amended resolution.

The resolution's final draft calls upon University administration to act in protection of those who have experienced doxxing.

"(This is a) really important issue, as many of you talked about. And I think this is the first step of us to help the University tackle this issue in a more comprehensive way," Adrienne Simonds, chair of the University Senate, said.

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