Students receive partial education
I was disappointed by the story and editorial [“Debating academic freedom,” “Not-so-great debate,” Dec. 19] covering the hearings on limited academic diversity here at Temple. Faculty organizations assert there is no political or cultural bias in university classrooms. Has that been your experience?
You quote me as saying that in observing 100 classes I “almost never heard a kind word about conservative issues.” I never said that. In speaking about humanities and social science courses, I said the following: “In these visits, I rarely heard a kind word for the United States and our freedoms, for the riches of our marketplace, for the vast economic and creative opportunities available for energetic and creative people (that is, for our students), for family life, for marriage, for love between a man and a woman, or for religion. I did hear about racial intolerance in the United States, about the evils of American imperialism; about the need to be skeptical of all institutions and traditional values; and about the stupidity and mendacity of prominent politicians. There is much to applaud in this iconoclasm and rebelliousness. However, without the arguments for loyalty, tradition, and reverence, these appeals to radical thinking alone serve education poorly. Worse yet, most students have long since stopped listening to what they have learned to expect to hear when instructors range freely into their own grievances and ideological fixations.”
Have you never had to leave a question unasked or suppress a comment because it was “out of bounds” for that instructor? Never heard a student put down for expressing unpopular views? Never tilted the views in your essays because you knew what the instructor wanted to read? Never asked why the world of values within the university is so different from what is expressed outside it – and what that means?
If these are “conservative issues” for you and you ignore them because of that label, you make my point that students are being partially educated.
– Stephen Zelnick
Horowitz exaggerates his claims
“I wouldn’t be persuaded to be here if it wasn’t for 20 years of being on campuses and seeing this,” [conservative activist David] Horowitz, who said he interviewed more than 100 area students, as well as hundreds more at universities across the country, testified.
This is from your article [“Debating academic freedom,” Dec. 19]. I presume that it is a direct quote.
Thinking about it, I don’t believe that Horowitz, who has a lot to do, has interviewed a 100 area students. If he did and for this purpose, wouldn’t he have a record to show for it, i.e. a tape of his interviews?
If he doesn’t, why doesn’t he? Without it, we are to accept him – that is to say, his right-wing followers are to accept him. But I think that if challenged, he would back down.
– Brian Shannon
Affliliation creates conflict of interest
It is pretty dishonest of Sara Dogan to write a letter [Dec. 19] defending David Horowitz’s positions without explaining that she is the president of the organization Students for Academic Freedom that was actually founded by Mr. Horowitz himself. So, she is essentially defending her boss without disclosing that this is the case.
Without this disclosure we might think there is a movement independent of Horowitz that is taking up his position when indeed there is not.
It is simply Mr. Horowitz and the people who work for his think tank and the organization he founded. I also know that Temple already has extensive procedures in place through the student ombudsperson to defend a student who was “discriminated” against, so Dogan displays her lack of research on our university by calling for what our university already provides.
It was dishonest of Dogan to not make this disclosure and intellectually lazy of her to argue for things Temple already does – an intellectual laziness that Students for Academic Freedom’s founder David Horowitz likewise demonstrated. Horowitz’s arguments before the committee stood upon unsubstantiated hearsay arguments that went something like this: “I heard about this student at UCLA who got a bad grade because his teacher disagreed with him.” Such arguments would fail in papers written for XO60 and they likewise failed to impress the bipartisan committee of the Pennsylvania Legislature that was at Temple listening to his ideology.
Real teachers encourage debate and dissent. If a teacher does not do so at Temple, it is not a fault of the university or of the “system” but of the individual teacher who is too small-minded to allow people their free expression. And it is the students’ responsibility to hold this teacher accountable by taking him or her to task.
Be courageous, complain to the department chair and raise a ruckus. Dissent is an American tradition and we should never shy away from it, even if the roles are reversed in our university and the dissenters happen to be conservative.
– Joseph Soler
Graduate student Educational leadership and policy studies