St. Petersburg (Russia) State University has decided to rescind academic freedom:
Word spread this month among the faculty members of St. Petersburg State University: According to a document signed on Oct. 1, they have to submit their work to administrators for permission before publishing it abroad or presenting it at overseas conferences.
The order, which was circulated internally and made its way onto a popular Internet forum, says professors must provide their academic department with copies of texts to be made public outside Russia, so that they can be reviewed for violation of intellectual property laws or potential danger to national security.
Many professors are (understandably) upset. But it's all an overreaction, says the university's vice rector:
He said he did not believe that the order would interfere with professors’ efforts to publish abroad. “One of the psychological problems we’re encountering is that some of our colleagues, instead of reading the documents carefully to understand what will be examined, and for what purpose, are speaking out against any kind of control,” Dr. Gorlinsky said.
Umm, yeah. They are speaking out against any kind of control. It's sort of a touchy subject for academics. Especially Russian professors, who seem to remember Russian history:
Some professors reacted with alarm, saying the model recalled the Soviet era’s notoriously bureaucratic “first division,” which reviewed documents before they were released to the outside world.
Vyacheslav Y. Morozov, an assistant professor in St. Petersburg State University’s international relations department, estimated that 70 percent of the scholars in his department published and spoke abroad regularly, and worried that the new demands could make that impossible.
“It might be a model for the defense establishment, but I don’t think anything like that exists in the universities,” Professor Morozov said. “Maybe in China. Maybe in Iran.” ...
Several St. Petersburg professors said they worried that the rule would be applied selectively to penalize specific faculty members, either because they were in conflict with administrators, or because their work was critical of the Russian government.
I wonder what the penalty will be for violating the rule? A cup of Polonium tea?