Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., will address this summer’s Conservative University conference sponsored by Accuracy in Academia (AIA).
A co-sponsor of the Academic Bill of Rights introduced by Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga., Rep. Jones has become increasingly concerned about the political bias of most colleges and universities. “Numerous times I have heard from my constituents in Eastern North Carolina who are tired of the liberal bias on the University of North Carolina [UNC] campuses,” Rep. Jones said last fall.
Earlier this year, at UNC-Chapel Hill, a Christian student received an e-mail from a teacher, as did his classmates. Earlier, during a classroom discussion led by that same professor, the student had volunteered that he found homosexuality objectionable. In her e-mail to the class, that instructor labeled his comments “hate speech.”
When Rep. Jones, a convert to Catholicism, heard about the incident on the radio, he took two actions: he requested an investigation by the U.S. Department of Education, and he asked for a meeting with the Chancellor of UNC-Chapel Hill. Shortly after that meeting, the chair of the English Department that the aforementioned professor serves on demanded an apology from her and promised to personally monitor her classes.
Rep. Jones remembered learning of another incident at UNC in which a student’s paper on the American Revolution was rejected because “the founders were slave owners.” Rep. Jones is one of 30 co-sponsors of the Academic Bill of Rights that is currently stalled in Congress.
All 30 co-sponsors are Republicans. Reps. Kingston and Jones have been trying to lure Democrats to sign on to the bill, but to no avail. As well, they have been unable to get either Republican committee chairmen or ranking minority Democrats to hold hearings on the issue of academic freedom in higher education in the United States, despite persistent efforts.
The House of Representatives is at least more amenable to the academic freedoms that the bill seeks to restore than the American Association of University Professors (AAUP). Here is one of the provisions that the AAUP objects to:
“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.”
Rep. Jones was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1994, after serving for 10 years as an elected member of the North Carolina General Assembly. Rep. Jones sits on the Armed Services Committee and the House Committee on Resources. Jones and his wife Joe Anne maintain their home in Farmville, North Carolina.
Conservative University, at which Rep. Jones will be the kick-off speaker, will take place at Georgetown University on July 16th and 17th.
Malcolm A. Kline is the executive director of Accuracy in Academia.