An Academic Freedom Victory at Bowdoin and Controversy over The Professors · 22 February 2006

Academic Freedom Bill Adopted at Bowdoin


Following heated discussions and press coverage on campus, the Bowdoin College Republicans successfully ushered a Declarative Statement Endorsing the Principles of Academic Freedom through their student government on February 1st. The resolution, which passed by a vote of 12-10, states that "We, as members of the Bowdoin Student Government, believe it to be essential that a plurality of viewpoints are exposed, and welcomed, on campus. Freedom to express one's own views without fear of discrimination, recrimination, or other types of bias is one of the pillars of an academic institution."

The bill also supports the creation of an Academic Bias Incident Group, possibly the first such proposal in the nation, which would "meet at the initiative of the Dean of Academic Affairs in response to any incident of academic bias or perceived academic bias in any form, whether discrimination, harassment, or other intolerance, for the purpose of sharing all facts available at the time and of designing a course of action appropriate to the incident."

Prior to the vote, the Bowdoin Student Government distributed a survey to a self-selected group of 649 students in an attempt to determine how widespread the problems of political and religious discrimination are in an academic setting. Of those students questioned, 98 reported that they had experienced such abuse, helping to garner support for the passage of the bill.

"I am incredibly happy that we have voted to endorse the [statement]," commented Alex Linhart, Chairman of the Bowdoin College Republicans and the Students for Academic Freedom contact on campus. "Finally students who feel that they have been discriminated against have a mechanism that they can turn to to seek relief."

Bowdoin is the second campus in Maine to successfully pass an academic freedom bill, following Bates College which adopted a version of the Academic Bill of Rights in the spring of 2005. Similar legislation is currently under consideration at the University of Southern Maine among other campuses in the state. Legislation was introduced last spring at the state level by Maine Representative Stephen Bowen, but failed to pass through the House Education Committee.

The ACLU and Professor Organizations Attack Horowitz Book

A coalition of radical professors, students, and organizations has launched a smear campaign to discredit David Horowitz's newly-released book, The Professors.

Using the misnomer, "Free Exchange on Campus," the group blatantly distorts the content of The Professors and unscrupulously impugns the Academic Freedom Campaign launched by Horowitz through his organization, Students for Academic Freedom.

Among the spurious charges alleged by the group is that The Professors attacks faculty for their political associations and beliefs, rather than for their political advocacy and indoctrination of students in the classroom.

Notably, the introduction to The Professors addresses this criticism directly and states explicitly that the purpose of the book is not to condemn university faculty for their political views: "This book is not intended as a text about left-wing bias in the university and does not propose that this bias is necessarily a problem. Every individual, whether conservative or liberal, has a perspective and therefore a bias. Professors have every right to interpret the subjects they teach according to their individual points of view. This is the essence of academic freedom."

"The statement condemning The Professors is a naked attempt by a coalition of leftwing groups including the ACLU, the National Education Association, the pro-Castro United States Students Association and People for the American Way to censor my book before the public has a chance to read it," commented Horowitz. "The statement is a malicious smear of my book and of the academic freedom campaign. I have not 'retracted' any claims about indoctrination in the classroom as the document says."

Students for Academic Freedom has released a press release on these attacks and Human Events among other publications has covered this emerging controversy .

Academic Freedom Conference

The date for the First National Academic Freedom Conference is getting closer-less than two months away now. The conference will take place April 6-7 at the Washington Court Hotel in Washington, DC. The conference is free for students, non-profit employees, legislative staffers, and the media and is only $75 for the general public. Some dormitory housing is available free-of-charge for students traveling to the conference from outside of the DC area. A preliminary schedule for the conference may be found here . For more information or to register for the conference, please contact Sara Dogan at 202-393-0123 or at Sara@studentsforacademicfreedom.org.

Yours in Freedom,

Sara Dogan
National Campus Director
Students for Academic Freedom