Author Accuses UNC of Withholding Information · 17 March 2005

Filed under: Press Coverage


By Doyle Murphy--Greeley Tribune--03/18/05

The University of Northern Colorado withheld information and possibly altered the copy of a test question released to reporters, according to conservative author and speaker David Horowitz.

In a phone interview Thursday morning, Horowitz said UNC told representatives of Students for Academic Freedom they couldn't see a copy of a criminology test because it was being used in a student appeal.

Ever a controversial figure, Horowitz has drawn criticism recently for reporting an anecdote about a UNC student who he said failed an exam in 2003 when she refused to "explain why George Bush is a war criminal" in an essay.

A copy of the exam released by the university does not contain the phrase. Assistant professor of criminal justice Robert Dunkley and a UNC spokeswoman denied the student failed; they have declined to release the actual grade because of student privacy laws.

The exam instructions gave students a choice of two essay questions in the second part of the test and allowed them to avoid answering the question Horowitz found objectionable.

Horowitz said he made errors: He couldn't verify the student's exam grade, and he didn't realize the question wasn't required. But he said the media "hammered" him for details that are insignificant to his message.

"That's an error, and I concede that, but that's not the same as saying the story's wrong," Horowitz said.

Ryan Call of Students for Academic Freedom said he requested the exam by phone after an SAF volunteer interviewed the student in Dunkley's class. SAF is a Horowitz-backed group that seeks to "end the political abuse of the university and to restore integrity to the academic mission."

Call, a third-year law student at the University of Denver, said UNC refused to give him a copy of the exam, citing privacy laws. He said the student was also unable to get a copy of the exam and has never seen her test.

UNC spokeswoman Gloria Reynolds said she has no record of Call's request. Although the student handbook has no specific policy prohibiting the release of a test, she said, it's possible the dean in charge of the appeal felt it would hinder the process. Reynolds pointed out she released it Wednesday to the first reporter who asked -- a Tribune reporter.

Call said the student has maintained the published question was altered from the version she answered. Horowitz said the question was awkwardly worded, leading him to suspect the student is telling the truth.

"I just find this is a very peculiar question, and it makes me wonder if some of this stuff was added in later," Horowitz said.

Reynolds said UNC is confident the question is the same.

UNC hasn't released the student's name, and Call said she has been reluctant to come forward publicly because she is afraid it would affect her admission to law school [Editor's note: the Greeley Tribune inaccurately quoted Call. The reference should read "graduate school." The student has never expressed any intention of attending law school, but will be starting a graduate program next fall.] Call said he spoke to the student Wednesday, and she told him she has enjoyed the majority of her time at UNC and wants to put the incident behind her.