Marquette Continues to Stonewall Students for Academic Freedom · 05 December 2006

By John McAdams
Filed under: Press Coverage

The Marquette Warrior  

From Students for Academic Freedom President Charles Rickert, an e-mailed letter sent to two staffers in the Office of Student Development, concerning a meeting today what included Dr. Peggy Bloom from the Office of the Provost.

From: Rickert, Charles
Sent: Tue 12/5/2006 4:13 PM
To: Neumann, Kelly; McCarthy, Mark
Subject: SAF - objections


Thank you for meeting with me today and arranging for Dr. Bloom to join us, as well. I do not mean to be a bother. I like to think of myself as a student that Dr. Bloom would be proud of (willing to stand up and voice concerns).

I understand the reasons you have shared for the possible rejection of the Students for Academic Freedom Constitution but I do not agree with them nor do I believe the same standard(s) are equally applied to other groups.
  • Name (something very trivial)
  • Affiliation to national organization
  • “note and object” (usurping MUSG responsibility)
In the AMU, right now, JUSTICE has a table that notes and objects to a lack of fair trade coffee available at campus coffee shops. Their table is collecting signatures for a petition to make a change that will affect all students and university members. I spoke with the president of JUSTICE and he said he has no intention of working with MUSG on this issue. Using the standard applied to Students for Academic Freedom, this effort by JUSTICE should not be allowed on campus because if students have a grievance, the proper/existing mechanism is MUSG.

I am not asking for JUSTICE to have their table shut down. However, it should be acknowledged that OSD-approved student organizations do “note and object” on university property. I do not expect any member of JUSTICE is “qualified” to speak about “economic justice” or the “stewardship of God’s Creation” as their current petition reads. They are entitled to share their opinion(s). In this case, they are entitled to share their opinion at an AMU table.

There was no disagreement that there are currently OSD-approved organizations with affiliation to controversial national organizations. Some of these national/parent organizations argue vehemently against the Catholic Church and/or its teachings (Amnesty International). I imagine that “Students for a Fair Wisconsin” was affiliated to a disreputable “Fair Wisconsin” effort. Fair Wisconsin made deception an art form during its 2006 television/radio commercials. I assert that Fair Wisconsin has/had a credibility issue.

It was said earlier that a Black Student Council does not usurp power from MUSG because they also perform social events. However, one of MUSG’s largest functions for students are social events. In a related note, if an African-American student has a grievance, should they report it to MUSG, the Black Student Council, the administration or each?

It was also agreed at this afternoon’s meeting that Marquette’s policy on Academic Freedom is not infallible nor is not non-negotiable. Marquette and OSD believe protections of academic freedom are not for students. Many students, other universities and I disagree with Marquette’s view of academic freedom. An objection of “students do not have academic freedom” will never resonate with our organization because this exactly the mindset/policy that our group seeks to reform.

In sum, I understand OSD’s objections but I do not agree with them. Of course, when Students for Academic Freedom requests either a formal acceptance or rejection letter, OSD is free to decide how they wish.

Best regards,

Charles Rickert
Students for Academic Freedom
Marquette bureaucrats thus continue to make excuses (most of them quite lame) to reject Students for Academic Freedom.

The claim that the organization would somehow usurp MUSG responsibility is a new one and -- as Rickert points out -- a rather silly one.

Marquette bureaucrats simply don’t like the national organization, Students for Academic Freedom. They asserted it is “controversial” and “unfairly targets professors.”

The latter is a reference to the fact that the organization does indeed publicize instances of leftist bias and activism from professors. Are these professors being “unfairly” targeted?

That is entirely a matter of opinion. It seems the Marquette administration wants to impose its opinion of the organization on campus discourse about bias.

Students for Academic Freedom has never, to our knowledge, attacked any professor for anything besides public statements on controversial issues, or statements made in a class, or public associations with particular groups or movements, or their treatment of students who disagreed with them.

Some, it seems, believe that “academic freedom” means that professors can say whatever they want and not even be criticized. And it also means that students cannot say what they want about their professors.