In our experience, college administrators frequently engage in doublespeak, speaking out for academic freedom while actively suppressing it.
The ones who can testify to this Orwellian double standard, of course, are those whose ability to teach and learn has been hampered by the rather capricious acts of college administrators and professors. We have been privileged to meet some of these brave men and women and would like to introduce them to you.
Dr. David Deming and Dr. Jean Cobbs suffered intimidation and humiliation as a result of offering political opinions and getting politically involved on their own time.
Dr. Deming, a justifiably respected scientist, had all of his courses taken away from him at Oklahoma University where, despite tenure, the school moved him to a basement office after he wrote a letter advocating gun rights in the school newspaper.
Dr. Cobbs, a Sociology professor at Virginia State University who repeatedly won accreditation for her department, was stripped of her chairmanship after riding on a Republican float in the homecoming parade. Both Dr. Deming and Dr. Cobbs are taking their cases to court.
Professor Michael Filozof at Monroe Community College in Rochester, New York lost his job over a bumper sticker he placed upon his door in support of President Bush and U. S. troops. Despite glowing reviews from students, the adornment essentially cost him his job in a political science department where Kerry bumper stickers decorate most of the doors of other faculty members.
Sometimes these stories have happy endings. Engineering student Steve Hinkle attempted to advertise a College Republican event at California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo. His effort to put up a flyer advertising an upcoming lecture led to a kangaroo court loaded with university officials. The school took no action against Hinkle and finally expunged his record of the incident.
When Ruth Malhotra told one of her professors at Georgia Tech that she was going to spend a weekend at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D. C., her instructor said, “Well, you’re just going to fail my class.” The professor later indicated that she was kidding. Malhotra later testified before a committee of the Georgia State Assembly on the need for an academic bill of rights.
Also in Georgia: When Rina Mann questioned the hiring of a public school teacher at Kennesaw State University’s teacher center during a hiring freeze, guess who got fired? Right. The school later rehired Mann after she reported her findings to Georgia Common Cause.
When Jason Mattera questioned the tactics of gay rights activists in his school newsletter at Roger Williams University in Rhode Island, the school cut off funding for the publication. So Mattera spent much of what free time he has in interviews and at press conferences. When he came back the following year to offer a “whites only” scholarship designed to lampoon government affirmative action programs, the school said, and did, nothing.
On many campuses, professors routinely tell their classes if they are gay or lesbian, whether the students want to know or not. But when Dr. James Tuttle told his philosophy class at Lakeland Community College in Ohio that he is a practicing Catholic, the school administrators there decided that the professor needed to be kept under close supervision with a lighter course load. Dr. Tuttle is also, understandably, taking legal action.