Response to the Knox News Editorial · 15 May 2005

To the Editor:

As the National Campus Director of Students for Academic Freedom, the organization responsible for the Academic Bill of Rights which inspired Tennessee House Bill 432, I wish to respond to the critique of the Bill in your recent editorial ("Don't Let Lawmakers Into College Classrooms," 04/05).

Your editorial cites administrators at the University of Tennessee who claim that the protections of the Academic Bill of Rights are already fully in place on that campus, yet you still criticize the legislation as "interfer[ing] with the professor's charge to teach." If the legislation merely duplicates the existing policies, how can reaffirming these legitimate guidelines detract from professors' ability to teach in the classroom?

The University of Tennessee does in fact have academic freedom policies which mirror our Academic Bill of Rights. These policies are admirably included not solely in the Faculty Handbook, as is the case at many universities, but also in the Student Handbook. But the mere existence of these policies does not mean they are adequately publicized or enforced. House Bill 432 would ensure, in the words of your editorial, that Tennessee's "college campuses are not and should not be places where a political agenda of any kind is taught."

Sara Dogan
National Campus Director
Students for Academic Freedom