Reforming Campus Grievance Procedures · 16 April 2004

In California, State Senator Bill Morrow introduced the Academic Bill of Rights as Senate Bill 1335 last week, heralding a major step towards securing academic freedom in that state.

"Our universities and colleges must embody certain American principles of learning," the Senator stated. "Free inquiry and free speech within the academic community are indispensable to the pursuit of truth, learning to think critically, and developing intellectual integrity."

The California Senate Education Committee will hold a hearing on April 21st, where California students will have the opportunity to attest to the partisan teaching and viewpoint discrimination they have faced on campus.

In Colorado, State Senate President John Andrews and Speaker of the House Lola Spradley introduced a joint resolution confirming the memorandum of understanding that was signed by the presidents of Colorado's four largest universities agreeing to review their grievance procedures and other policies relating to academic freedom and the protection of intellectual diversity on campus. The bill emphasizes that the legislature expects regular updates from these universities to ensure that the conditions of the memorandum are being met and that "the campus environment across Colorado is open and inviting to students of all political viewpoints."

In a stunning victory, the bill passed the Senate unanimously, putting the university presidents on notice that their actions will be closely monitored. You can read the full text of the bill on our website, here .

As a means of encouraging his university to comply with the memorandum of understanding signed by the university presidents and this most recent Senate vote, Colorado State University SAF chapter president Robert Lee has drafted suggestions for a new grievance policy for CSU. The new policy would make it possible for students to file a grievance specifically claiming discrimination due to political beliefs. It also clarifies the method of filing a grievance for various types of complaints, a process that is currently very ambiguous and confusing.

Robert has also introduced a bill into the CSU student senate which would mandate that the new grievance policy be placed on all class syllabi. This bill has received the support of the Chair for the Faculty Council, Dr. C.W. Miller who will encourage that body to adopt the resolution. Robert has written a detailed summary of the steps he has taken to ensure academic freedom at CSU which you can read here and you can also view his full 10-page report examining the flaws in CSU's grievance system.

By taking these steps to revise the grievance filing process at CSU, Rob is laying the groundwork for academic freedom in Colorado that will serve as an example for the rest of the nation. The SAF national office extends their gratitude for his efforts and congratulates him on a highly successful strategy. We will continue to follow his efforts and those of other students in Colorado closely and will bring you updates as they emerge.

Yours in freedom,

Sara Dogan
National Campus Director
Students for Academic Freedom