New Report Cites Penn State Courses for Violations of the University’s Own Academic Freedom Policy · 24 January 2007

By Sara Dogan

Dear Students and Supporters,

This past summer, two universities in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Temple University and Pennsylvania State University, became the first in the nation to adopt policies specifically protecting students’ academic freedom and outlining grievance procedures to protect academic rights. Now, a disturbing report released this week by Students for Academic Freedom reveals that multiple departments at Penn State currently stand in stark violation of the university’s academic freedom policy by openly endorsing ideological positions in their course descriptions and requirements.

Our second national academic freedom conference which will take place March 3-4 in Washington, DC is fast approaching. Registration is FREE for students and only $150 for the general public. Space is limited so register today!  

Read on for all the latest details on these exciting developments in the academic freedom campaign….

SAF Report Reveals Academic Freedom Violations in Penn State Curricula 

In a report released Monday, Students for Academic Freedom identifies several academic departments at Pennsylvania State University which openly and regularly violate the academic freedom provisions of the university. 

Authored by Students for Academic Freedom Chairman David Horowitz and Senior Editor Jacob Laksin, the report examines official class syllabi, departmental web pages, and course descriptions and singles out the Penn State Women’s Studies Department for failing to meet academic standards and being a program designed to indoctrinate students in a sectarian ideology. 

The report reveals that despite Penn State’s longstanding and well-articulated academic freedom policy, HR 64, which forbids professors from indoctrinating students with “ready-made conclusions on controversial subjects,” numerous courses across several departments aim to do exactly that, discarding academic approaches in favor of political agendas. 

“There is nothing ambiguous in [Penn State’s academic freedom policies],” the authors write. “They define the standards of professionalism that Penn State University professors are expected to observe. But examination of a dozen courses in the Penn State curriculum reveals that these principles are often blatantly ignored, and the professional standards they set forth are systematically violated.”

In a historic advance for academic freedom last spring, the faculty senate at Penn State created a new policy giving students the right to file a grievance if their professors violate their academic freedom as defined by the existing policy HR 64. This much needed change in policy was inspired by the academic freedom hearings conducted by a select committee of the Pennsylvania Legislature during 2005-2006. At the time of the hearings, not a single public university in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania provided student-specific academic freedom guarantees to its student body or provided students with a grievance procedure specifically to challenge such violations.

Following the hearings, Temple University and Penn State became the first campuses in the state to adopt new policies providing students with academic freedom rights.

Until now, “the Penn State administration has knowingly ignored these blatant violations of the university’s academic freedom policy, and turned a blind eye to the ramifications for the thousands of students under their charge,” commented David Horowitz. “Penn State should take immediate steps to ensure that all departments, courses, and instructors comply fully with the university’s stated academic freedom policy.”

A full-page ad taken out by Students for Academic Freedom in Wednesday’s edition of the Penn State Daily Collegian titled “Know Your Rights,” instructs students in how to file a grievance if their professors violate Penn State’s new academic freedom policy.

“If you are a student at Penn State, you pay good money for professional expertise, not off-the-cuff political advocacy,” states the ad. “It’s your education. See that you get one.”

Register for the Second Annual Academic Freedom Conference—FREE For Students!

Our second annual academic freedom conference is fast approaching. This exciting event will take place March 3-4 at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, DC. The conference will feature many exciting speakers and events including a debate between SAF Chairman David Horowitz and American Association of University Professors President Cary Nelson on what is probably the most important campus issue of the day – students’ academic freedom.

The conference will also feature student and Marine corporal Matthew Sanchez who took on the issue of anti-military bias at Columbia University after he was harassed and called a “baby killer” by his fellow students for proudly serving in the Corps. 

In an effort to make it possible for more students from across the nation to attend our event, we are holding this year’s conference directly following the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) which takes place each winter in Washington, DC.  Conference registration is FREE FOR STUDENTS but space is limited so please register as soon as you know you will be able to attend. We also invite the general public to attend this event at the subsidized rate of $150.00.

The complete conference schedule and registration information can be found at: http://studentsforacademicfreedom.org/conference2007

We hope to see you at the conference!

Yours in Freedom,

Sara Dogan
National Campus Director
Students for Academic Freedom