Original Letter on Diversity Policy to Georgia Tech, 06/23/04 · 23 June 2004

June 23, 2004

Dr. G. Wayne Clough
President
Georgia Tech University
Atlanta, GA 30332-0285

Dear President Clough,

I am the national campus director of Students for Academic Freedom, a nationwide student organization dedicated to promoting academic freedom, intellectual diversity, and civility on American university campuses. We currently have chapters at over 135 institutions of higher learning, including at Georgia Tech.

As you may know, the Georgia Senate recently adopted Senate Resolution 661 by an overwhelming margin, calling upon state institutions to incorporate principles of the Academic Bill of Rights into university policy. After a similar proposal was introduced by the Colorado legislature, the university and state college systems of that state agreed to implement many of these principles voluntarily. United States Congressman Jack Kingston (R-GA) has also introduced the Academic Bill of Rights as House Concurrent Resolution 318, which calls for colleges and universities to voluntarily end discrimination in hiring practices based on political or religious beliefs and to promote intellectual diversity on campus. I have enclosed a copy of the Georgia legislative resolution, the Academic Bill of Rights, and an article from the Chronicle of Higher Education that describes our achievements. You can view other documents and legislation relating to our mission on our website, www.studentsforacademicfreedom.org.

In accord with the spirit of the Academic Bill of Rights, I would like you to consider incorporating an explicit commitment to intellectual, religious and political diversity as part of your institution's Diversity Office mandate. This would protect all students at Georgia Institute of Technology from being treated as second class citizens and would promote a climate of intellectual pluralism that is essential to a liberal education. Our organization has drafted a simple policy statement, based on the diversity and free speech policies of Yale University. I hope you will consider adopting this or a similar statement before the fall term begins.

Statement on Diversity:

This office was established with the premise that expanding diversity within the university enhances the educational experience and furthers the understanding of the entire scholarly community. An atmosphere of civility and mutual respect towards difference is indispensable to the educational process and enables the free interchange of ideas that is the basis of scholarship. These differences may be immutable or changeable, cultural, ethnic, religious, intellectual, ideological or political. Each of these qualities is integral to the identity we form as individuals, and all are essential to creating a vibrant university community composed of individuals with unique perspectives and backgrounds. The university must commit itself to a policy of inclusion, respect for difference, and fairness, and guarantee the same rights and freedoms to all its members to ensure the fullest degree of intellectual freedom.

In addition, our organization would be more than happy to serve as a resource as you work to implement the other principles of the Academic Bill of Rights as called for in Georgia Senate Resolution 661. A representative from Students for Academic Freedom will be contacting you in the coming weeks to see if you have any questions, to provide recommendations of students and faculty who may be willing to participate on any policy review committees or task forces you may decide to organize, and to share examples of policy changes or other programs being adopted by other colleges and universities around the country in response to the principles outlined in the Academic Bill of Rights.

Thank you in advance for your willingness to implement policies that will help ensure that Georgia Institute of Technology continues to be a staunch defender of academic freedom and ideological diversity.

Sincerely,


Sara Dogan
National Campus Director
Students for Academic Freedom
1015 Fifteenth Street, NW, Suite 900
Washington, DC 20005
Phone: 202-969-2467
Fax: 202-408-0632
www.studentsforacademicfreedom.org

cc: Dr. G. Wayne Clough, U.S. Senator Zell Miller, Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue, Ben Scaffity (Education Advisor to Governor Perdue), U.S. Representative Jack Kingston, U.S. Representative John Lewis, State Senator Eric Johnson, State Senator Bill Hamrick, State Senator B. Joseph Brush, State Senator Vincent D. Fort, State Representative Louise McBee, State Representative Mable Thomas, State Representative LaNett Stanley-Turner, Ruth Malhotra (Georgia Tech Student)