New York State Senate Bill S. 6336

01/09/06 REFERRED TO HIGHER EDUCATION
DeFRANCISCO, GOLDEN, JOHNSON, LARKIN, MALTESE, MEIER, MORAHAN, PADAVAN, TRUNZO, WINNER Add S224-b, Ed L Creates an academic bill of rights that ensures an academic environment for both students and faculty members that allows freedom of political viewpoint, expression and instruction; requires institutions of higher education to publish such bill of rights and to adopt a grievance procedure to address complaints of violations of such rights.


STATE OF NEW YORK

________________________________________________________________________

6336

IN SENATE

January 9, 2006
___________

Introduced by Sens. DeFRANCISCO, GOLDEN, JOHNSON, LARKIN, MALTESE, MEIER, MORAHAN, PADAVAN, TRUNZO -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Higher Education

AN ACT to amend the education law, in relation to creating an academic bill of rights

The People of the State of New York, represented in Senate and Assembly, do enact as follows:

1 Section 1. The education law is amended by adding a new section 224-b
2 to read as follows:
3 § 224-b. Academic bill of rights. 1. A student enrolled in an institu-
4 tion of higher education has the right to expect:
5 a. A learning environment in which the student has access to a broad
6 range of serious scholarly opinion pertaining to the subjects the
7 student studies in which, in the humanities, the social sciences and the
8 arts, the fostering of a plurality of serious scholarly
methodologies
9 and perspectives has a significant institutional purpose;
10 b. To be graded solely on the basis of the student's reasoned answers
11 and appropriate knowledge of the subjects the student studies and to not
12 be discriminated against on the basis of the student's
political or
13 religious beliefs;
14 c. That the student's academic freedom and the quality of
education
15 will not be infringed upon by instructors who persistently
introduce
16 controversial matter into the classroom or coursework that has no
17 relation to the subject of study and that serves no legitimate pedagog-
18 ical purpose;
19 d. That the freedom of speech, freedom of expression,
freedom of
20 assembly and freedom of conscience of students and student
organizations
21 are not infringed upon by administrators, student government
organiza-
22 tions or institutional policies, rules or procedures; and
23 e. That the student's academic institution distributes student fee
24 funds on a viewpoint-neutral basis and maintains a posture of
neutrality
25 with respect to substantive political and religious
disagreements,
26 differences and opinions.

EXPLANATION--Matter in italics (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
[ ] is old law to be omitted.

LBD13937-01-5

S. 6336 2

1 2. A faculty member or instructor at an institution of higher educa-
2 tion has the right to expect:
3 a. Academic freedom in the classroom in discussing subjects while
4 making the students aware of serious scholarly viewpoints other than
5 that of the faculty member or instructor and encouraging
intellectual
6 honesty, civil debate and the critical analysis of ideas in the pursuit
7 of knowledge and truth;
8 b. To be hired, fired, promoted, denied promotion, granted
tenure or
9 denied tenure on the basis of competence and appropriate
knowledge in
10 the field of expertise of the faculty member or instructor and not on
11 the basis of political or religious beliefs; and
12 c. To not be excluded from tenure, search and hiring committees on the
13 basis of political or religious beliefs.
14 3. An institution of higher education shall fully inform
students,
15 faculty and instructors of the rights under this section and of the
16 institution's grievance procedures for violations of academic
freedom by
17 notices prominently displayed in course catalogs or student
handbooks
18 and on the institutional publicly accessible site on the Internet.
19 4. The governing board of an institution of higher education shall
20 develop institutional guidelines and policies to protect the
academic
21 freedom and the rights of students and faculty under this
section and
22 shall adopt a grievance procedure by which a student or faculty member
23 may seek redress of grievance for an alleged violation of a right speci-
24 fied in this section. A governing board under this subdivision shall
25 publicize the grievance procedure developed pursuant to this
subdivision
26 to the students and faculty on every campus that is under the control
27 and direction of the governing board.
28 § 2. This act shall take effect immediately.


NEW YORK STATE SENATE
INTRODUCER'S MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT
submitted in accordance with Senate Rule VI. Sec 1

BILL NUMBER: DeFRANCISCO, GOLDEN, JOHNSON, LARKIN, MALTESE, MEIER, MORAHAN, PADAVAN,
TRUNZO, WINNER
S6336

SPONSOR: DEFRANCISCO
TITLE OF BILL:

An act to amend the education law, in relation to creating an academic
bill of rights
PURPOSE:

To ensure that students enrolled in institutions of higher education
receive exposure to a wide range of scholarly viewpoints, and to recog
nize the academic rights of faculty members.

SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS:

Section 224-b (1) -- Outlines what a student enrolled at a higher educational institution can expect. Included in this portion of the bill are provisions stating that a student can expect to be graded solely on the basis of his/her work, student fee money should be distributed in a fair manner, and a student's freedom of conscience shall not be infringed upon by administrators or student government organizations.

Section 224-b (2) -- Outlines what a faculty member has a right to
expect. Included in this portion is a provision requiring that faculty
be hired, fired, or promoted on the merits of their work and not on
their political or religious beliefs.

Section 224-b (3) -- Higher education institutions are required to
inform students of their rights and of the institution's grievance
procedures for violations of academic freedom.

Section 224-b (4) -- The governing board of a higher education institu
tion is required to develop and publicize a grievance procedure for
violations of academic freedom.

JUSTIFICATION:

Every institution of higher learning has a duty to promote intellectual diversity on campus. Too often, students find many college classes biased or one-sided. The ideas of all students and faculty members should be treated with respect, and all ideas deserve to be represented on campus.

Professors and administrators have an obligation to make students aware of a broad range of viewpoints and perspectives. They are not hired to teach only students who share their political or philosophical views, and professors should never force their own views upon their students. The classroom is not and should never be a soapbox for a professor to promote his or her point of view.

The Academic Bill of Rights has been introduced as legislation in a
number of state legislatures, and a few states have already adopted a
form of the Academic Bill of Rights. In one of the most recent examples, the Pennsylvania State House of Representatives -- in July 2005 -- passed a resolution supporting the principles of the Academic Bill of Rights.
LEGISLATIVE HISTORY:
New bill.
FISCAL IMPLICATIONS:

None.
LOCAL FISCAL IMPLICATIONS:

None.
EFFECTIVE DATE:
Immediately.