Robert M. O'Neil has been a player on academic freedom issues from many perspectives. He has been a university president (University of Virginia, University of Wisconsin System), a legal scholar (law professor at U.Va.), and First Amendment advocate (director of the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression). He has also been chair of the American Association of University Professors' committee on academic freedom.
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute announced Monday that it would not permit the re-opening of a controversial video exhibit that the university suspended last week. RPI's announcement -- both the decision and the way it was explained -- infuriated the artist and art professors, who moved the video to a gallery off the campus. There, students who are active in the College Republicans at RPI followed them to picket and protest outside, while others streamed in to see the show.