Still questions of academic freedom

In your editorial last week [“Rosy Retort,” Feb. 21] you noted President Adamany’s response to David Horowitz on the matter of student rights to academic freedom in their classrooms. You quoted the president’s letter to the Philadelphia Inquirer in which he wrote that “in 94 percent of 243,340 anonymous surveys of virtually every Temple course in 2004-05, students said that they found a classroom atmosphere in which they felt free to ask questions and express their opinion.”You cited that comment as if it ended all debate, but I find it troubling. Doesn’t that mean that 6 percent of students responding (referencing 14,600 classroom reports) did find a classroom atmosphere in which their freedom was restricted? And if we estimate roughly an undergraduate population of 20,000 at Temple University, doesn’t that mean that around 1,200 students believe their academic freedom has been compromised?And what does it say about trust in the university community if 1,200 students report this on the course evaluation form, but not one student in the five years of the president’s tenure has ever made a formal complaint?Perhaps you want to agree with professor Joan Wallach Scott who spoke for the American Association of University Professors at the Temple University hearings against the proposed bill on Student Academic Rights and noted the following: “AAUP believes that by insisting that students have the same rights to academic freedom as their professors, it deprives teachers of the authority necessary for teaching. It threatens to substitute mere opinion [read: “the question a student might dare to ask”] for scholarly knowledge …” [read: “the unquestionable assertions made by professors”].You might want to have a second look at all this.-Stephen ZelnickDepartment of English

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