Despite the protests of the higher education establishment, there are few American colleges and universities immune from politically correct standards, even south of the Mason-Dixon Line. Like kudzu, radical academic totalitarians favor warm weather too.
Georgia Tech is the university where Ruth Malhotra, a speaker at Accuracy in Academia’s summer conference, majors in political science. Miss Malhotra was given a failing grade in a course when she missed a class in order to attend the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D. C.
Since that happened two years ago, Miss Malhotra has been given the chance to retake the class, getting an “A” on the second take. Elsewhere, in the School of Public Policy, change has come slowly, if at all.
“I worked in the same department as an economist,” Dr. Michael Farmer remembers of his time at Georgia Tech. “This made me instantly suspect—stamped as an immoral occupation ipso facto.”
Now an associate professor at Texas Tech, Dr. Farmer served at the Georgia Institute of Technology for a decade. He only left Georgia Tech in August last year, after his own academic freedom, he alleges, was repeatedly violated. “Violations,” he writes, “include:
• “Preventing me entry into my classroom for weeks at a time (let me say again—preventing entry for seven and eight weeks into a classroom for a course that meets 3 times per week);
• “Being physically accosted in front of other students for reporting that students could not gain access to an economics class;
• “Ignoring basic safety protocols to lock doors in deliberate, open defiance largely because of my field of study that led to a near encounter with a person who had sliced stereo and monitor wires in my office; and
• “Depriving me of any computer at work able to perform the most basic functions (internet, word processing) for half a decade.”
“Commenting on classroom access, faculty openly noted the benefit that it protected students from economics,” Dr. Farmer writes. “Even if in jest, it reveals that restricting a professor from speaking in a classroom and openly closing access to an instructor is a laughing matter—if you happen to dislike the material (otherwise it’s an abomination against academic freedom).”
Dr. Farmer is an impeccably credentialed, widely-published economist who specializes in free-market environmental economics. His colleagues at Georgia Tech viewed him as a “goose-stepping Nazi” in the business of teaching “trained dogs.”
“… I reported quietly to five senior faculty that my Master of Science students had failed—but one—to perform basic 8th grade arithmetic (intersection of two lines),” Dr. Farmer recalls. “I received a fierce chastisement not to embarrass the department.”
“Ok. So when I returned to the issue in person, well away from the feared lens of those” who “might wish to embarrass us (whoever they were), I was labeled a ‘mindless fascist.’”
Among Dr. Farmer’s many accomplishments is his work in the clean-up of the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska sixteen years ago. Still, that Herculean effort did little to prepare him for the left-wing office politics he would encounter in Academia.
“I did reply back,” Dr. Farmer remembers. “It really isn’t our job to protect students from knowledge,” he told his colleagues. Their response: “I was summarily cut off by the facilitator and openly chided for ‘exceeding the bounds of decent professional dialogue’; clearly to tell someone known to have lost relatives in the holocaust that he is a fascist or a Nazi … is professional speech; yet stating an academic position that MS students from Georgia Tech should master 8th grade arithmetic was an unspeakable insult.”
Malcolm A. Kline is the executive director of Accuracy in Academia.