Fighting for Academic Freedom at UMass-Boston · 19 April 2004

Filed under: Press Coverage

By Jason Doedderlein, 04/20/04

In the April 8th issue of Mass Media, there was an article covering the formation the Umass-Boston
chapter of Students for Academic Freedom (SAF). As the person initiating this undertaking, I would like a chance to state my reasons and intentions.

Academic freedom and diversity of thought are essential for a good education. Alan Dershowitz, the
well known civil libertarian and Harvard Law professor, states, "I am appalled at the intolerance of many who share my substantive views. And I worry about the impact of politically correct intolerance on the generation of leaders we are currently educating".

Our mission is to address these issues head on. It is my belief, and my experience, that the vast majority of professors at UMB are excellent educators. They see the need for varying positions to be presented and a critical mentality to be maintained in the classroom. However, there are those professors who do not hold these views. Both myself, as well as many other students I have spoken with about their experiences, know of at least one professor who fits this description.

Professors who feel it is their job to impart their beliefs on students rahter than educating them and allowing them to decide their own beliefs are doing a great disservice to our entire community. In such
classes, positions which do not agree with the professors are dismissed and sometimes ridiculed. In
other classes, and required reading lists present only one side of the argument. While this is understandable in some classes it is outrageous in others.

This is harmful to both the students and the University. Very often these teachers are avoided by those who know of their teaching style. When there is no other option, they are attended reluctantly. As
with my experience, newer students may find themselves in such a class and have no other option but to endure it for the duration. This has a negative effect on many students, on their attitudes towards these
teachers and toward the University, and on their willingness to speak out and voice their opinion.
It is my desire and goal to provide students who see this as a problem, as well as those who have
experienced intolerance or abuse of power, with an outlet and a voice. We at SAF UMB would like to create an organizational tool to push for greater intellectual diversity in these classes and on campus,
and to inform new students who may want avoid these professors.

In closing I would like to make a few clarifying points about our mission and goals. Firstly, although
SAF was founded by David Horowitz, SAF UMB does not espouse his views above and beyond what is to be found in SAF literature, or what pertains directly to the fight for academic freedom for all students. Secondly, the desire of SAF UMB is to foster open discussion and a respect for the plurality of views and beliefs present at UMB. Lastly, SAF UMB desires to see the inclusion of intellectual diversity in the university's "Resolution to Support Pluralism", and see the University take as active a role in ensuring this becomes a reality as it does concerning race,
ethnicity, culture, and religion.

Anyone who would like to discuss SAF, the goals, or any other topic, please feel free to speak to me on campus (I frequent the Political Science lounge) or e-mail me at