The Temple News’ recent article about the academic freedom hearings in Pennsylvania [“Council sparks debate over academic freedom,” Dec. 6] quotes several professors and administrators who argue that the hearings are an “unwarranted and inappropriate government interference in academic matters” and claim that right-wing politics is behind HR 177.
Such attacks are baseless. HR 177 and our Academic Bill of Rights which inspired it are non-partisan documents which aim to restore intellectual diversity, fairness and respect to the academy. Legislatures already regulate numerous aspects of public universities, including dictates on racial and sexual discrimination. How is ensuring that students don’t face harassment for their political views any different?
However, if Temple’s faculty and administration resent the committee’s actions, there is a simple solution: They should follow the example set by universities in Colorado and Ohio, which agreed to voluntarily support the adoption of new guidelines on academic freedom, based on the Academic Bill of Rights, resulting in the withdrawal of legislation in those states.
These guidelines adhere to the criteria set this summer by the American Council on Education which released a statement signed by 27 other organizations including the American Association of University Professors noting that “Intellectual pluralism and academic freedom are central principles of American higher education” and that students should have access to specific grievance procedures if they face political abuse and discrimination on campus – conditions which our research has shown are rarely met on America’s campuses.
Sara Dogan, National Campus Director, Students for Academic Freedom, Washington, D.C.