I am glad that we are having this discussion about what a professor’s role is and what a student’s role is and how each should conduct themselves.
Unfortunately, as further evidence of the problem, two professors (Michelle Mason and Alan R. Lifson) wrote opinions that are almost complete cop-outs. They didn’t even address the problem. Lifson tries to scare students into thinking that there is some “radical right” attempt to control the University psyche. This is further evidence of the problem. If anything, there is a radical left movement dominating campus thought and speech using tactics like Lifson uses in his article.
I am not a conservative or a liberal or green or whatever, I don’t have established views about everything. I am here to grow intellectually. I want an objective education from professional scholars, and for the most part that is what I am getting. But there are some professors who just can’t resist of using there positions of power to push their personal political philosophy and, through scandalous measures, silence dissent and stifle discussion. As a nonpartisan student, I could care less if I have one single conservative professor (although I think it is fair, based on research, to suspect that there is discrimination based on political orientation, i.e., against conservatives, in the hiring of faculty).
All I want is for my professor’s will do their best to expose me to all plausible scholarly views on an issue. This is necessary if we are to have a debate on that issue. I feel that students learn and grow the best that way; the views that they develop will be authentic that way.
Is it my responsibility as a student, if my professor doesn’t give me both sides, to go out and research the issue on my own? It appears that Lifson feels that way. Lifson claims that students are independent thinkers and those that are supporting the Academic Bill of Rights forget this “fact.”
I have been here at the Univerisity for three months now, and I have met very few freshman or sophomores who I would consider (generous standards) independent thinkers. How do you not see that conformity is rampant around here? Politics are little more than fashion to a large number of students here, and I have yet to here a professor speak out against ideological and intellectual conformity.
These are the so-called champions of “independent thought.” Where is the independent thought? I suggest that everyone interested (including any professor before him/her writes in bashing it) to read the Academic Bill of Rights before taking one side or another. You can read it atstudentsforacademicfreedom.org.
One disingenuous argument voiced in opposition to this idea is that students need to think outside of their comfort zones. Students do need to think outside of their comfort zones. How could you argue otherwise? But this is the point of the Academic Bill of Rights.
Students should always feel they can inquire openly about an issue without fearing that their grade will reflect their inquiries or pronounced views. This is crucial for intellectual growth.
I would like to hear from the professors of this university on this issue; especially as to what they think should about professors who abuse their power.
I am open to solutions other than government intervention, although I feel that asking universities to police themselves could be as foolish as asking Major League Baseball to police itself on steroids.
I was very disappointed when reading both Lifson and Mason’s opinions, because neither one of them even tried to address the problem that this bill is designed to fix.
Again, I agree with their arguments that students need to think outside of their comfort zones (although it appears that we would certainly disagree with what has become the popular comfort zone at the U.S. university). But that is a sad argument against this bill and this movement because it fails to address the real heart of this issue (hence the title of this opinion).
When you give that argument, you are addressing issues that you want to address, kind of like a politician avoiding accountability for a mistake.
Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger said that professors have a responsibility “to resist the allure of certitude, the temptation to use the podium as an ideological platform, to indoctrinate a captive audience, to play favorites with the like-minded and silence the others.”
Bollinger is against government intervention in academic affairs but did not back down from addressing the real issue. I ask all in opposition to the Academic Bill of Rights to respond with what you think could be done about this existing problem. If you don’t support government intervention, than offer a viable alternative.
Jordan Rockwell is a University student. Please send comments to [email protected]