Maine Politics

From the Piscataqua to the St. John

Friday, April 01, 2005

Stupid Bills: The College Years

The Maine college Republicans have been crowing about this bill for a while and lately they've finally been getting some press:
Several University of Maine System students told lawmakers Wednesday they have been treated unfairly on their campuses because they are politically conservative. All members of the College Republicans, the students testified before the Legislature's Education Committee in favor of LD 1194, which would require state colleges and universities to publish an "academic bill of rights" to keep students and instructors from being penalized for expressing unpopular viewpoints both in and out of the classroom.

The bill is the work of David Horowitz, a far-right activist who is leading a nation-wide campaign to portray college conservatives as victims. It contains contains some very scary language including a provision that would limit the ability of professors to introduce controversial material into the classroom, and one that would require instructors to present alternative views in the classroom regardless of the merits of those views and their personal beliefs.

Some of the accusations Horowitz has made to justify this kind of law are outright lies, and others are just hilarious. Here are a few complaints submitted to Horowitz's "Academic Student Abuse Center" and noted by Think Progress:
“This complaint applies to the discriminating nature of grading of my English teacher…On the last one, I wrote about how family values in the books weve read aren’t good. I know the paper was pretty much great because I spell checked it and proofred it twice. I got an D- just because the professor hates families and thinks its okay to be gay.” [sic] - Ohio State, English

“We were then required to watch an immoral Seinfeld episode dealing with masturbation, an exercise with little sociological value. She then gave a lecture on ‘moral relativity,’ which she defined very closely with ‘cultural relativism.’” - St. Louis University, Sociology

“Talked about flags as symbols of states and argued that new Iraqi flag was not a result of a transparent and fair process…Claimed AS FACT that other Arab societies had red, green and black in their flags…” - St. Michael’s College, Human Geography

You can read all the submissions to the "Abuse Center" that were made before horowitz removed the website here. These are the kind of crazy complaints that Maine's government and courts would have to deal with if this law passes.

Read the entire bill here.

Visit the new Maine Politics.



again right on target. Horowitz has been carrying on this campaign Students for Academic Freedom  for a few years now and the strategy is slightly spooky....Conservative students examine the voter roles to determine how many faculty members are registered Democrats and how many are Republican. When a department is found to have more Democrats than it should the conservatives begin to file abuse statements saying that they feel uncomfortable being forced into left leaning classes. This action generally leads to incidents and demands that more conservative staff be hired by the school.

Jesse Walker had a pretty good take on it a few years back.
You cannot impose quotas or promote balance under the provisions of a bill that says in so many words: "No faculty shall be hired or fired or denied promotion or tenure on the basis of his or her political or religious beliefs."...Could anything be clearer? ................
I've looked at the rest of the Students for Academic Freedom website. The group's university "case studies" offer very few examples of conservative students or instructors being penalized for their views, preferring mostly to grouse that leftist views are present on campus in the first place. Two reports—one from Cornell, one from Southern Illinois University—direct their complaints not at bias in the classrooms but at bias in antiwar teach-ins. A dispatch from Holy Cross notes tartly that there had been "five recent campus presentations opposing the use of force against Saddam, and none favoring it." I think the reporter means officially sponsored presentations—the well-known hawk Daniel Pipes spoke there in February, after all—in which case he has proven, at most, that the administration tends to lean left on matters of foreign policy but puts no barriers in the way of those who'd like to offer other viewpoints. Whatever else that may constitute, it is hardly a violation of "academic freedom."

Posted by R. Goss

4/01/2005 07:43:00 PM


I think this proposal is ridiculous.

Of course, similar claims got the gay rights bill passed. 

Posted by George

4/01/2005 10:48:00 PM



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