Harassment in the Classroom · 09 September 2003

Upon attending the first class session, the instructor started out with a description of himself and the class during which he referred to both as "liberal" multiple times. Things deteriorated from there.

"Once he went through the preliminaries, he began to discuss how he had opinions, opinions that landed far to the Left on the political spectrum," Matt relates. "Now I was very worried, not due to his political beliefs, because the majority of my other professors, many of whom have been amazing teachers, have been liberal. What worried me was the excited and proud manner in which he stated it, thusly implying that his politics would be a large part of the classroom experience. He then made a comment to the effect, "I don't have a bias against anyone…except Republicans!" - which elicited roaring laughter from the students. I was absolutely dumbfounded. The message was clear: all opinions are welcome except anything contradicting the professor. And matters only got worse…."

The full text of Matt's letter can be read on our website here .

Unsurprisingly, Matt decided to drop the class from his schedule, but he didn't let the matter rest there. He took the trouble to email the instructor to politely explain why he had decided not to take the class.

The professor's response was baffling to say the least, and stunning in its complacency.
"Thanks very much for your comments," the instructor wrote. "What I am trying to do is to elicit discussion and counter argument. This is not a 'facts' course and so to present the 'facts' is an impossibility. At any rate, I am very sorry that I offended you, I did not mean to offend. But I wanted you to know up front what the course would be like so that you could do what you have done, drop the course and get into another one. My very best to you for a successful senior year."

Unsatisfied with the professor's response, Matt did not let the matter rest there. He brought the incident to our attention and intends to take action within his university to publicize the unacceptable behavior of this professor in the classroom.

Sadly, Matt's case is hardly unique. The lack of tolerance for conservative views in the classroom extends to nearly every university in America. When incidents such as these happen to you, please don't drop the matter without a fight. Email me at Sara@studentsforacademicfreedom.org and we can help publicize this unprofessional and unacceptable behavior on the part of faculty and administrators. There's a lot you can do within your own school as well-put out press releases, demand a meeting with your professor to discuss his or her comments, seek support higher up in your campus administration. Most importantly, document incidents as they occur-they will be your ammunition later on when you are seeking to make lasting changes on your campus.

For more information on Students for Academic Freedom or to start up a campus chapter, please email me at Sara@studentsforacademicfreedom.org or call me at 202-969-2467.

Best Regards,
Sara Russo