Academic Bill of Rights Goes to Washington · 21 October 2003

By Rep. Jack Kingston and Rep. Walter Jones
October 22, 2003

Yesterday, Congressmen Jack Kingston, R-GA; Rep. Walter B. Jones, R-NC; and Joe Jones, a student at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, held a press conference announcing their support for the Academic Bill of Rights. The two congressmen have introduced a bill supporting the document's non-compulsory call for colleges and universities to end any discrimination against hiring conservatives and bring intellectual diversity to campus. Joe Jones spoke of his experience facing the opposition of leftist college administrators. Reps. Kingston and Jones then spoke about why they felt the Academic Bill of Rights was needed. We applaud their efforts and hope the bill finds many cosponsors on its way to passage. Their respective statements follow.

Rep. Jack Kingston's Press:

Congressman Jack Kingston, R-GA, today introduced a Bill that will ensure fairness in higher education and protect college students from one-sided liberal propaganda. The "Academic Bill of Rights" will safeguard a student's right to "get an education rather than an indoctrination."

"College is a time when you form your own opinions about the issues that affect our society," Congressman Kingston said. "If our students are not shown the whole picture, they are being cheated out of a true education. University professors should be teaching our kids how to think, not what to think.

"These institutions constantly preach the value of diversity in their student body and faculty. This bill only seeks to promote the most important diversity of all - the diversity of ideas," Congressman Kingston said. "At almost every American university, conservative professors are drastically outnumbered. And the number of liberal guest speakers outnumbers the number of conservative guest speakers by a margin greater than 10-1, limiting the opportunities for conservatives or anyone else who does not sing from the same liberal songbook."

Although the number of registered Republicans and Democrats is roughly the same in the U.S., a study of 32 colleges and universities revealed that none of them achieved a reasonable parity between the two. Some of America's finest institutions of higher learning have no conservatives on staff. Of all of the Ivy League schools, only three administrators identified themselves as Republicans.

"Most students probably graduate without ever having a class taught by a professor with a conservative viewpoint," Congressman Kingston said. "Many students conceal what they actually think in order to protect their academic standing because they are at odds with the educational bias of the university."

The Academic Bill of Rights recognizes that political partisanship by professors is an abuse of students' academic freedom and is designed to take politics out of the university curriculum. It would call for an end to unequal funding of student organizations which host guest speakers. The Bill would not place quotas based on party affiliation in the hiring process at universities and would not dictate any academic curriculum. It would rather challenge universities to voluntarily adopt ideologically neutral hiring processes and academic policies.

Rep. Walter B. Jones' Press Release:

Third District Representative Walter B. Jones today joined Congressman Jack Kingston in calling on leaders at all colleges and universities to adopt an Academic Bill of Rights. Congressman Jones is an original cosponsor of the legislation, which encourages university and college officials to even out the imbalance between liberal and conservative influences in higher education.
Statistics have shown that while campus funds are available for distribution to all on-campus organizations, funding is doled out to organizations with leftist agendas by a ratio of 50:1. Such biased financing results in a deluge of liberal speakers being invited to step up to their soapboxes far more often than those with a conservative bent. While colleges and universities are expected to extend an unprejudiced form of higher education, today's liberal collegiate leaders are denying our students an objective curriculum.

"The goal of the Academic Bill of Rights is to return impartiality to our campuses. There is no place for partisan politics in higher education, especially when it influences the mind-set of students. Students go to college to learn and make independent, educated decisions. Incorporating an Academic Bill of Rights in our colleges will help ensure public education is not clouded by partisan curriculum," Congressman Jones said today. "This legislation is needed because you cannot get a good education only hearing one side of the story. Numerous times I have heard from my constituents in Eastern North Carolina who are tired of the liberal bias on the University of North Carolina campuses. How can we expect our state's Universities to rise to the highest echelon of education if they refuse to offer unbiased instruction? I am proud to stand as a cosponsor of this important legislation in the hopes that we can create a fair playing field within our universities."

Congressman Jones attended the press conference to introduce the bill with an intern from his Washington office, Joe Jones. Joe is a student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a school which Joe claims is consistently intimidating conservatives into silence. Speaking at today's press conference Joe said, "I learned and understood that college and universities are places where open dialogue and critical thinking help students develop into a whole person. My confusion is this: why do these universities chastise and stifle the growth of those opinions now just because that they don't agree with them?"

Statement from Joe Jones, a student at UNC-Chapel Hill:

I want to say first and foremost that I love my university, and I love Roy Williams our new basketball coach. But being honest as a conservative and a Christian there are many opportunities for how our institution deals with students who have ideas that are not liberal. Last year, a campus organization that I am apart of, named Intervarsity Christian Fellowship, had their charter revoked for a short time because in that charter they obligated that officers within the club be Christians.

Another organization that I am a part of is 180, which exists to break down barriers and stereotypes that non-Christians have about Christians on campus. We were told that we could have funding from our student government for a speaker to come, but the speaker could not pray or even allude to prayer. We immediately took issue with these regulations. In response, we were told that we could take the money and have prayer as long as we told our student government authorities that we were not going to pray because nobody who would be participating in prayer would be at the event anyway.

As a student at a university which I love dearly and which I personally believe to be one of the top in the county, I learned and understood that college and universities are places where open dialogue and critical thinking help students develop into a whole person. My confusion is this: why do these universities chastise and stifle the growth of those opinions now just because that they don't agree with them?

I think it is fair to say that I look forward to the these universities understanding a lesson that my Democratic father told me he learned from his Republican son, which is: "If you're going to teach someone to think freely, you had better be ready for them to feel free to disagree with you."

U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston is a Republican who represents Georgia's first district. U.S. Rep. Walter B. Jones is a Republican who represents North Carolina's third district in the House of Representatives. Joe Jones is a conservative Christian student at UNC-Chapel Hill.