Raleigh, N. C.—Students and parents who think that they will find a conservative school south of the Mason Dixon line might want to rethink that assumption. Those schools can be just as politically correct as their northeastern and western counterparts.
When a student at the University of Alabama (UA) at Tuscaloosa put a confederate flag in a dorm room window, the school issued a pronouncement against window displays but when students put American flags in their windows, the school did nothing. The students armed themselves with video equipment and lawyers secured by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.
This little anecdote was related at a conference here by David Beito, a professor at UA. The conference, “Freedom and the American Campus,” was sponsored by the John William Pope Center for Higher Education.
Dr. Beito, who has had his own ongoing disputes with the school, is also a member of the Alabama Association of Scholars (AAS), which attempts to restore more scholarship to college and university classrooms. The AAS publishes a monthly newspaper called The Alabama Observer. The AAS distributed The Alabama Observer through the campus mails, at a great cost-saving to the nonprofit publisher.
That is, the AAS used the free distribution until the school said no. When Dr. Beito pointed out to the powers that be at UA that the Coalition for Diversity and Inclusiveness (CDI) used that same mailing privilege, he was told the CDI was a school group and AAS was a state organization. Dr. Beito then reminded the UA brass that the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), a national group, used the campus mails. The school then revoked the AAUP’s mailing privileges.
Indeed, the UA has made diversity training mandatory for faculty, forcing faculty members to watch the film “Blue Eyed.”
The UA’s own preference for government programs beyond affirmative action is more than skin deep. Last year, when a medical school professor tried to use the university e-mails to respond to a mass missive to faculty that promoted a state tax increase, he was refused by the chairman of his department.
“This carefully placed opinion piece was attempting to shame Alabamians into the privilege of paying more taxes,” Russ Fine wrote in the August 2003 issue of The Alabama Observer. Fine serves as a professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB)’s School of Medicine.
Dr. Fine received the following response:
I have read your e-mail and the accompanying request. As you are aware, the Chancellor, Board and President of UAB have determined that adoption of the pending state referendum is in the best long term interest of the University and that efforts to inform faculty/staff of the seriousness of the current financial crisis and the need to address this are appropriate. I concur with that view and will therefore periodically distribute for voluntary consumption articles that I believe serve that purpose. I respectfully decline with regard to your request.”