Response from SAF to GA Tech Vice-Provost McMath · 19 July 2004

July 19, 2004

Dr. Robert C. McMath, Jr.
Vice Provost for Undergraduate Studies
and Academic Affairs
Georgia Institute of Technology
Atlanta, GA 30332

Dear Dr. McMath,

Thank you for your response to my previous letter asking Georgia Tech to consider incorporating intellectual, political and religious diversity into its diversity mission statement. I am pleased to hear that the University wishes to promote a climate that "encourages diversity of opinion and upholds the freedom to express it," and the statements you directed me to in the Faculty Handbook do appear to support these assertions.

I am concerned, however, by your claim that the Georgia Tech "Statement on Human Relations" is similar in substance to the diversity language we submitted to you. While the Statement notes the importance of religious diversity, it fails to mention intellectual or political diversity.

What our organization is asking for is that the same protections and respect for difference which are granted to students as a result of their race, gender and ethnicity also be extended to the differences created by political, intellectual and religious views. These characteristics are just as integral to the individual identities of students, and diversity in these areas is essential if the university is to fulfill its educational mission.

If this Human Relations statement were sufficient to protect students from discrimination, then why have a campus office dedicated to diversity issues at all? We can only assume that the university deemed such an office and the regulations and enforcements that accompany it to be necessary to protect students from discrimination due to their race, sex, or other protected characteristics. We are merely asking for equal treatment for students who may be disrespected or harassed on the basis of their intellectual, political, or religious beliefs, and ask that these characteristics be explicitly mentioned in the mission statement of the Office for Diversity.

I hope that Georgia Tech will reconsider adopting the diversity language which Students for Academic Freedom proposed (included below) in the mission statement of the Office for Diversity.

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.


Sincerely,

Sara Dogan
National Campus Director
Students for Academic Freedom

Cc: Dr. G. Wayne Clough, Newt Gingrich, U.S. Senator Zell Miller, 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, Dean Stephanie Ray, Ruth Malhotra (Georgia Tech Student)