Academic Rights Bill Wronged

, Malcolm A. Kline, 1 Comment

One would think that with the evidence of academic bias stacking up more overwhelmingly by the decade that the higher education establishment would welcome any attempt to introduce a bit of intellectual diversity to their campuses, especially since they claim to be committed to same. Guess again.

“Since the students who hosted me were almost invariably conservative, it was also my custom to ask them how many professors they could identify who were likely to sponsor their group,” author and activist David Horowitz discloses in his latest book. “The question provided me with a rough estimate of the number of conservatives available to counsel and support them.”

“Almost invariably the answer was ‘two or three.’” The dominant faculty Left feels no such constraints.

We’ve usually discovered that they are the source of such inhibitions on an ever diminishing conservative minority. Early in the decade, Horowitz crafted a proposal designed to empower students and “take politics out of the classroom,” an effort he describes in Reforming Our Universities: The Campaign For An Academic Bill Of Rights.

Ultimately, his Academic Bill of Rights (ABOR) was a set of recommendations. Chiefly, ABOR recommends that:

1. All faculty shall be hired, fired, promoted and granted tenure on the basis of their competence and appropriate knowledge in the field of their expertise and, in the humanities, the social sciences, and the arts, with a view toward fostering a plurality of methodologies and perspectives. No faculty shall be hired or fired or denied promotion or tenure on the basis of his or her political or religious beliefs.

2. No faculty member will be excluded from tenure, search and hiring committees on the basis of their political or religious beliefs.

3. Students will be graded solely on the basis of their reasoned answers and appropriate knowledge of the subjects and disciplines they study, not on the basis of their political or religious beliefs.

4. Curricula and reading lists in the humanities and social sciences should reflect the uncertainty and unsettled character of all human knowledge in these areas by providing students with dissenting sources and viewpoints where appropriate. While teachers are and should be free to pursue their own findings and perspectives in presenting their views, they should consider and make their students aware of other viewpoints. Academic disciplines should welcome a diversity of approaches to unsettled questions.

Five years ago, I noted the startling similarity between ABOR and the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) statements on academic freedom. Nonetheless, the AAUP came out foursquare against ABOR, a reflection of the depth of the organization’s actual commitment to academic freedom.

Even more perfidious was the flip flop of Penn State professor Michael Berube who initially okayed ABOR, then trashed it, mostly on behalf of the AAUP, of which he is a prominent member. In Reforming Our Universities, Horowitz features an e-mail Berube sent when the former asked the latter to review a draft copy of ABOR.

Berube did object to one provision. “The Academic Bill of Rights looks fine to me in every respect but one: the taping of all tenure, search, and hiring committee deliberations,” Berube wrote. Horowitz removed the provision.

“I especially like point 4, since I regard all questions in the humanities as unsettled, and have often complained about the academic mode in which people write, ‘as Foucault has shown…,’” Berube claimed in the electronic missive. “After all, this ain’t mathematics, and we don’t deal in proofs.”

“‘As Foucault has argued’ is a better way to proceed, followed by ‘Foucault’s critics contend…’”

Full disclosure: When I started at Accuracy in Academia, AIA’s founder, Reed Irvine himself, buzzed me and aksed for a copy of ABOR. I handed him one. He buzzed me 15 minutes later and said, “We should support this.” We always have.

Malcolm A. Kline is the Executive Director of Accuracy in Academia.

If you would like to comment on this article, e-mail mal.kline@academia.org

  • Brandon Broze

    The “bias” is all in your heads. Now, yes, there MAY BE a few cases of some really-liberal professors ‘indoctrinating’ students with EXTRA STUFF that has little to nothing to do with the actual class or GRADING UNFAIRLY BASED ON IDEOLOGY

    …but that’s far rarer than demagogues like Horowitz want you to believe! Hell, I went to Mizzou for 3 years! I was a POLI-SCI MAJOR! But all of my classes, believe it or not, WERE PRETTY FAIR

    The “liberal bias” you speak of, by and large, was almost nonexistent. I think I would’ve eventually noticed. Sure, it’s perhaps true that a lot of campuses have “mostly-liberal faculty”, but is that REALLY a case of the departments and hiring managers AT said campuses DENYING applications of QUALIFIED conservative professors, or are there simply FAR FEWER CONSERVATIVES APPLYING in general, esp. for certain fields?

    I mean, don’t BUSINESS AND ECON. depts. typically have a lot more Republicans, on average, for one thing? Why would I expect LOADS of conservatives to be “interested in”, say, sociology or philosophy, esp. to teach them to classes daily?? Makes little to no sense..

    Or a Human Sexuality class

    Most physical and/or social scientists are ATHEISTS, which are predominantly liberal and, to some extent, libertarian. Very few atheist Republicans or conservatives…

    Get off this easily-debunked, tired nonsense. If anything, far-right students who HATE BEING CHALLENGED are subconsciously CREATING AN IDEOLOGICAL FORCE-FIELD to avoid having to consider other points of view by claiming, “That teacher is merely biased!” “he wants to indoctrinate me”

    and the whole “teach both sides” crap is nauseating… Do you REALLY THINK the scientists are HOLDING BACK some actual ‘alternative theories’ of evolution or the origin of life? Sure, they may not endorse ID, but that’s because it’s BS! You CAN’T falsify it, and how does one define what “intelligently-designed” life LOOKS LIKE ANYHOW?? There’s no REAL, OBJECTIVE STANDARD! It’s based on confirmation bias, more or less. And cultural

    We only know this universe, so how on Earth can ANYONE claim to “know what intelligently-designed life is like”?? We have nothing to COMPARE our current system to! THAT’S how you help answer tough questions like the origin of life. Science can only do so much, like theorize HOW it might have or probably developed based on the available evidence. But it can never tell us, “How it all came out”, in the end. But so what…?

    Are you THAT weak mentally that you “need confirmation” of ID to believe in God or be faithful? Or to “live a happy life”? Who CARES! Be a good person, have fun, work hard, etc. Whether or not you “know there is a god” or higher power…

    In the end… you’re gonna go about your basic daily routine(s) the same either way, let’s be honest.

    And quite frankly, I think the MYSTERIES OF LIFE are far more intriguing than this nonsensical quest to “prove God exists through science.” Trying to SOLVE those mysteries with hard evidence, experimentation and the general scientific method seems much more fun and interesting. The WONDER of life is, partly, the COMPLEXITY of it all! But that doesn’t necessarily have to mean “there is a god.” Why would it? Sure, PEOPLE can design loads of artificial stuff, but the universe is REAL AND NATURAL. We didn’t create it. It created itself and continues to expand and modify constantly. How can you even begin to use ABSURD “explanations” like the Watchmaker analogy?