U. Georgia Senior Reflects on Classroom Indoctrination · 25 March 2007

By Bradley Alexander
Filed under: Press Coverage

The Sunday Paper 


Many college students know that rival schools can be unfriendly places. As a senior at the University of Georgia though, I have been unfortunate enough to experience this mistreatment on my own campus.


At the beginning of March I was invited, along with a panel of other university students, to speak in Washington, D.C. on the subject “Faculty and Administration Harassment of Students.” The conference was hosted by Students for Academic Freedom, an organization dedicated to ending the abuse of the classroom by professors agitating for political purposes.   


At the conference I spoke about my own experience with faculty abuse of students.


I explained that as a sophomore at UGA I enrolled in a class entitled “History of the World Wars.” The class was taught by Dr. John Morrow, a professor with a distinguished career who is recognized as an expert in his field.


I told the crowd that Professor Morrow spent the entire first day of class explaining why George W. Bush is “chicken shit.” He continued in a childish, profanity laced diatribe by denouncing the war in Iraq as an adventure to profit oil companies.


I objected to his boldly false assertion that the Iraqi regime never possessed chemical weapons as the Bush administration suggested, and added that Saddam had killed untold numbers of innocent Muslims. Dr. Morrow responded tersely by saying “so what, we kill innocent people all the time?”


This sort of behavior is unprofessional and violates the most basic tenants of academic freedom, which have been embraced by the American Association of University Professors: “Teachers are entitled to freedom in the classroom in discussing their subject but they should be careful to introduce into their teaching controversial matters which have no relation to the subject.”


Professor Morrow has never explained whether his behavior comports with this standard, or any standard, of academic integrity and professionalism. He has never explained why his conspiracy theories about George Bush and general emotional outburst were relevant to a class on the World Wars.


Professor Morrow’s demagoguery serves only to alienate students and silence dissent. Based on Professor Morrow’s melodramatic performance and his hostile response, I didn’t see any good reason to stay in the class. Who, after all, would want to leave their Grade Point Average in the hands of such an irresponsible individual?


Professor Allan Bloom, a distinguished philosopher at the University of Chicago, taught university students for 30 years and had much experience with the campus culture and interaction with other professors.


I think Bloom’s comments in his book the Closing of the American Mind apply with particular force in my situation, “These are the reasons that help to explain the perversity of an adult who prefers the company of youths to that of grownups… Such an adult is subject to many temptations—particularly vanity and the desire to propagandize rather than teach.”


The University of Georgia later investigated my allegations about Professor Morrow. The Office of Legal Affairs simply informed me that Professor Morrow was warned about the gratuitous use of profanity in the classroom. Of course, this pseudo-response totally swept the real issue under the carpet—academic freedom


At the conference I explained another experience I’ve had with intolerance and hatred at the university. I told the audience about my experience as editor of The Georgia GuardDawg, a conservative paper at UGA. Last semester the paper suffered the theft of over 1,200 issues. In one instance almost 700 dollars damage was inflicted on our vandalized bins.


The Red & Black, a student-run daily newspaper at UGA, said the theft “may be politically justifiable” since my paper is “intolerant.” They later backed away from that view.


Another student who spoke with me on the panel in Washington was Ruth Malhotra, a Christian graduate student at Tech and a member of the College Republicans. She explained how Georgia Tech censored her multiple times under policies that allowed the school to shutdown speech it finds “intolerant” or offensive.


Last spring, Malhotra sued Georgia Tech for violating her constitutional free speech rights.      She told the audience at the conference that one administrator lectured her on how the “college republicans have become a joke on campus.”


Since filing suit, Malhotra has suffered vicious attacks from students.


One note she received was a poem written in cruel, vapid English. “You cannot condemn a Woman’s choice,” the note continued.


“No, this Valentine’s Day, you will be raped. Sex is about love and through it you will experience hate. I cannot wait.”


She has been forced to move off campus, and the police have provided escorts for protection. She informed the audience that walking alone on campus is too dangerous for her.


Malhotra said that she has received plenty of hate mail, including one email that threatened to choke her and another from students wanting to “throw acid” in her face.


Fliers were even distributed on Tech’s campus with swastikas semi-imposed over her picture. Yet, for Malhotra, an Asian American, it must be particularly cutting to see the fliers that casually referred to her as a “bitch—yellow on the outside, white on the inside.”


I think Malhotra and I have much in common. Though, I have not experienced the Orwellian abuse from administrators that she has.


She and I live in stagnant intellectual and political climates that harshly attack opposing views. To ask tough questions is to be stigmatized as “bigoted” and “intolerant.”


Tech’s policies and UGA’s lame response to Professor Morrow’s behavior have the intended effect of silencing those who would like to speak but lack the courage.


Campus radicals in the 1960s used to be fond of saying “the political is personal,” meaning that political affiliation is central to existence and human worth. It is this expression of religious zeal today at Tech and UGA that finds dissent so revolting.


If politics is personal or essential for personal significance, then those with opposing political views become evil and intolerable, just as Ruth has to her assailants and just as my paper has to the Red & Black.


Universities are supposed to be forums for relevant academic discourse. Tech’s policies instead create a bastion of slavish conformity. UGA’s refusal to deal with the issue of academic freedom caters to the same atmosphere and only solicits more behavior like Professor Morrow’s.


In her closing remarks, Malhotra said that a federal judge in August struck down the Tech’s policies as unconstitutional. The judge also placed Tech under the court’s supervision for five years. I, on the other hand, have been told by university attorneys that the issue concerning Professor Morrow’s behavior is closed.           


The current oppressive and intolerant culture on our college campuses represents one of the gravest threats to our society. How can a republic function when its future leaders are being silenced and propagandized rather than taught?


Roger Kimball, a former teacher at Yale and Connecticut College, has correctly observed that, “what we are facing today is nothing less than the destruction of the fundamental premises that underlie our conception both of liberal education and of a liberal democratic polity.”

 For Professor Morrow, The Red & Black, and those attacking Ruth at Georgia Tech, the political may be personal as the radicals of the 1960s believed. Politics may be so important to them that it is worth abusing the campus atmosphere and academic freedom. For these people the political may be personal, but for me, Malhotra, and other campus conservatives the issue of academic freedom isn’t personal; it’s strictly business.