Proof of ABOR's Necessity on Display at Colorado Hearing · 05 March 2004

Prior to the bill's passage, the Colorado Education Committee held another round of hearings to determine the need for the Academic Bill of Rights on Colorado's campuses. One of the students to testify was University of Colorado-Boulder junior Ian Van Buskirk.

"I represent students who have been told, 'This is my classroom. I've got m Ph.D., therefore I decide what views are appropriate. I do not want your rightwing views in my class," Van Buskirk testified before the Committee.

As Van Buskirk was leaving the microphone and returning to his seat, he was confronted by Tim Gould, a Metro State philosophy professor, who in a face-to-face confrontation with the student retorted, "I got my Ph.D. at Harvard. I'll see your (expletive) in court. Then we'll see a chilling effect."

A second student, Danielle Robinson of Metro State, also claimed to have had a negative encounter with Gould, who lambasted her in the corridor outside the hearing room because she hadn't known about the existence of a grievance procedure at Metro State.

"The very reason why this bill is necessary is what we just witnessed," commented Rep. Keith King, of Colorado Springs. "A professor intimidated a student for his comments in a forceful, harassing manner-exactly the reason for this bill to move forward."

"If he behaves that way in a hearing room, imagine how powerful he feels in his classroom," added Rep. Mitchell, who introduced the Academic Bill of Rights.

You can read an account of this incident on our webpage here .

I've already spoken with many of you about our new campaign of asking campus diversity offices to include "intellectual diversity" in their mission statements. Please take a few moments to modify our sample letter and send it to the appropriate administrator at your university. You can find a copy of the sample letter here and instructions for how to proceed here . Make sure to send me an email to let me know when you have sent the letter.

By highlighting the importance of intellectual diversity within the campus office for equal opportunity, this new campaign will immediately force these offices to take a stand for or against mandating a diversity of viewpoints in education. By sending just one letter, your SAF chapter has the potential to reform the mission of your university, which will extend to the selection of speakers, the assignment of required readings, the funding of student organizations and many other areas of campus life.

In other academic freedom news, Barbara Grutter, a plaintiff in the Supreme Court case against the University of Michigan Law School's racially biased admissions policies, was obstructed from speaking at a February 25 meeting of the Michigan State University College Republicans by members of pro-affirmative action groups at MSU. The demonstrators included members of the organization By Any Means Necessary (BAMN) and other "professional protestors" from outside the university.

An opponent of affirmative action policies, Grutter's speech concerned the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative, an organization that advocates passing a state constitutional amendment banning racial and gender preferences.

During Grutter's speech, protestors loudly jeered at the speaker, disrupting her lecture to such an extent that, in the words of the MSU's campus paper, The State News, "an informative public address was impossible." The meeting was cut short by the campus police who were called to disperse the crowd.

Students for Academic Freedom has written MSU President Peter McPherson to request that he launch an investigation into the actions of the student organizations that disrupted Grutter's lecture and to determine if their university funding should be suspended. SAF also urged MSU to adopt the Academic Bill of Rights to ensure a policy of non-tolerance for individuals and groups that obstruct campus speakers.

It is an outrage that at a prominent public university like Michigan State, speakers must fight to be heard and fear for their safety if they dare to voice views contrary to popular opinion. If an incident such as this has happened on your campus, please email me at sara@studentsforacademicfreedom.org or submit a complaint form through our website here.

Best Regards,
Sara Dogan
National Campus Director
Students for Academic Freedom