Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Battle Erupts Over “Academic Bill of Rights” at College of DuPage in Suburban Chicago; Leftist Slant at a Community College

A battle has erupted at the College of DuPage in west-suburban Chicago over a proposal by the college’s Board of Trustees to impose protections for students against biased indoctrination by teachers. The language containing these protections incorporates what is known as the “Academic Bill of Rights” (link), which unsurprisingly has been strongly opposed by teachers and their unions. Looks to me as though College of DuPage Trustee Kory Atkinson is to be commended. College of DuPage is a large two-year community college, with about 30,000 students per semester, according to its web site (link), and brothers John and Jim Belushi are perhaps its most famous former students.

Following this story is Sara Dogan, National Campus Director of Students for Academic Freedom, which is a “clearing house and communications center for a national coalition of student organizations whose goal is to end the political abuse of the university and to restore integrity to the academic mission as a disinterested pursuit of knowledge.” She writes (link):

In what may be a landmark battle currently playing out at a large Midwestern community college, the College of DuPage’s faculty association has pitted itself against the board of trustees over whether to protect the academic freedom of its students. This latest skirmish in the five-year war over David Horowitz's Academic Bill of Rights (ABOR) reveals the lengths to which faculty unions are prepared to go to deny college students the right to an education free from indoctrination.

If adopted, as the Board of Trustees has proposed, this reform would make the College of DuPage the first institution of higher learning in the nation to adopt the Academic Bill of Rights and only the third to recognize that students have academic freedom rights that are distinct from (but related to) those granted to faculty.

“I and the other trustees thought it was important to provide for the academic freedom of students as well as faculty members,” explained Kory Atkinson, a trustee at DuPage and the principal author of the new policy manual which contains the Academic Bill of Rights.
“We’ve had some anecdotal evidence from students about faculty at DuPage providing lower scores [for ideological reasons] and even in some written reports for classes where professors made comments about sources being ‘right-wing’ rather than rejecting them for scholarly reasons, mainly in the social sciences where sources tend to be more subjective,” Atkinson said, explaining some of the Board’s impetus for proposing the Academic Bill of Rights.

The Academic Bill of Rights proposed at DuPage echoes the language of the original Bill authored by David Horowitz in 2005. It recognizes that the principle of academic freedom applies not only to faculty but also to students who should be protected “from the imposition of any orthodoxy of a political, religious or ideological nature.” The DuPage bill acknowledges the right of faculty members to “pursue their own findings and perspectives in presenting their views” but states that they should consider and make their students aware of other viewpoints” and that “courses will not be used for the purpose of political, ideological, religious, or anti-religious indoctrination.”

Despite such guarantees, the DuPage faculty union, a unit of the National Education Association (NEA), has declared open war over the proposed policy change.

In a separate post, Dogan rebuts the specific “smears” hurled at the Academic Bill of Rights by its opponents (link). For a view sympathetic to the point of view of liberal indoctrinist faculty, here’s a post at Inside Higher Ed online (link).

College of DuPage certainly appears to need an overhaul. Earlier this month, it extended a speaking invitation to ultra-liberal, detestable domestic terrorist Bill Ayers (link), in keeping with the "leftist slant of invited speakers in recent years."

John M Greco