Colorado Academic Showdown · 05 February 2004
February 6, 2004
Last June, David Horowitz visited Colorado and suggested to lawmakers that an Academic Bill of Rights was needed to protect students from faculty abuses. In the months that followed, Students for Academic Freedom Clubs were formed across the state and began gathering evidence of these abuses.
Colorado Senate President John Andrews then sent a letter to every college president in the state asking them to provide statements describing their protections for students and detailing any problems on their campuses.
At the same time, he convened an ad hoc legislative committee to hear from students and faculty members about whether academic freedom is adequately being protected on state-supported colleges and universities. The hearings were held on December 18.
Despite the fact that the hearings took place when most universities were in the midst of final exams, more than 30 students showed up to testify. Congregating on the third floor committee room in the Colorado State Capitol, they were joined by media representatives, college administrators, legislators, and members of the public at large.
Students for Academic Freedom has obtained transcripts of this two-and-a-half-hour hearing. They reveal an environment of bias and hostility towards conservative viewpoints on Colorado campuses. We see many examples: a professor insisting that student Republicans withdraw from the Political Science Association; a professor teaching one-sided history class in which students were told that Ethel and Julius Rosenberg were "martyrs" and that Stalin was a victim of U.S. persecution; a student skipping classes out of fear of the professor's tactic of ridiculing and humiliating conservative students in front of the class, and so on.
Readers can decide for themselves whether an Academic Bill of Rights is in order for Colorado schools. - Editors
COLORADO GENERAL ASSEMBLY
Ad Hoc Legislative Committee on Academic Freedom
Thursday, December 18, 2003 - 10:00 a.m. to 12:35 p.m.
Senate President John Andrews, Committee Chair
SENATOR JOHN ANDREWS: Thank you all very much for coming, I'm John Andrews. I'm the President of the Colorado Senate, and I represent the City of Centennial and Arapahoe County in the Senate. A provision in the rules of the General Assembly allows for informal or ad hoc committees of legislators from one or both houses to convene when the legislature itself is not in session for the purpose of hearing testimony or discussing issues of concern in an informal way that contributes to our base of knowledge and awareness of those issues that should help us prepare for the formal legislative activity which in the this case begins a little less than three weeks from now, Wednesday the 7th of January.
The purpose of our meeting this morning is to consider the protection of academic freedom in state-supported colleges and universities here in Colorado. A goal that no one would disagree on, but the implementation of that goal can be controversial, and the missing ingredient in much of the debate over the past several months seems, to some of us, to have been actual, verified experiences of students or faculty members at our fine colleges and universities across the state about whether there are adequate protections for academic freedom.
I did some fact-finding with our university presidents, and I have been very pleased with their cooperation where I've heard from all of the institutions in their responses to four questions, and the material sent me, in some cases including photocopied pages from handbooks or policy statements were so voluminous it's about a three-inch stack of materials and it was not practical to distribute them at this meeting. They are certainly a public record, and in some cases the university or college presidents have taken the initiative to make them available to the press and other interested people.
I do have this morning a copy of a very succinct and complete reply that I've received from CU President Elizabeth Hoffman, and since it is representative of all the other replies, and since CU is our flagship university I offer it to you today as a proxy for the other couple of dozen institutions that replied in a similar vein. And there are still a few copies of that available on the table up here to your left from the audience for anyone who would like to take one and if we run out we'll obtain more.
I had asked the four questions of university and college presidents: Number 1, what formal policies exist at your institution to guarantee no student, faculty member, or employee is subjected to discrimination, harassment, or a hostile academic environment on account of his or her political or religious beliefs-what is the policy? Number 2, what is your institution's process for handling complaints and determining remedies in the event someone experiences a violation of academic freedom. What's the recourse if the policy doesn't seem to be operating in someone's benefit in a particular instance? Third, do faculty evaluation questionnaires provide space for students to report bias? And fourth, what steps is your institution taking to promote intellectual diversity in the classroom and in departmental recruiting?
I found President Hoffman's response on behalf of the University of Colorado system encouraging, and really exemplary in the declarations that it makes about protection of academic freedom. It cites from the American Association of University Professor's policy statement going back a hundred years that controversy is at the heart of free academic inquiry, and from the Laws of the Regents of the University of Colorado, and we are honored to have one of those elected Regents with us this morning, Dr. Peter Steinhauer, it cites the definition of academic freedom as a faculty member's freedom to inquire, discover, publish, and teach truth as he or she sees it. And it adds that students likewise must have freedom of study and discussion. And comments that the fullest exposure to conflicting opinions is the best insurance against error, and charges all members of the academic community with the responsibility to protect the university as a forum for the free expression of ideas. And, finally, the last excerpt I draw to your attention is it cautions faculty members that they have freedom in the classroom in discussing the subject of that class, but they should be careful not to introduce into teaching controversial matter that has no relation to the subject. As I say, it's exemplary. I don't see how it could be improved upon, and as a legislator one of my rules of thumb is when in doubt, don't legislate, and decentralize these matters to the maximum that you can.
The question before us this morning is, is the policy working? The policy is certainly there, not just at the University of Colorado but at all of our institutions. But then is the policy working? And that's why we have invited a number of individuals to make presentations this morning, and we will, as I say, take time for others who have come today without having been scheduled as presenters, if we have time we will hear from you. If we don't have time, I'll just emphasize that when and if there is legislation proposed on this matter, that hearings on that legislation will be without time limit and without any of the panel arrangement that we have today and where all from the public who wish to speak on the bill, if there is a bill, will certainly have that opportunity.
Let me ask members of the committee to introduce themselves, and then we will proceed to hear from our presenters-Senator Gordon?
SENATOR KEN GORDON: Thank you President Andrews. I'm covering I guess for Terry Phillips, who couldn't make it, and I wasn't aware of this meeting until I got here just now, I mean today. And I see that there are, looks like, about sixteen people already signed up, and I was wondering how one went about, or how it got arranged that these are the people that were going to testify?
SENATOR ANDREWS: At my initiative, and having convened and being the chair of the committee, I cast out a net asking for individuals who had concerns to express, and some larger number than this were identified, and then I first asked and then it narrowed down to these individuals, and even in the last few minutes we have had some say they've decided that they would rather not speak this morning, and that opened up time for others who hadn't been invited to speak. But by the nature of the ad hoc hearing process, which we have used a couple of times already this fall, we found that it focuses the inquiry if we can go out and find people that we know to have pertinent-relevant material to present, and invite them to come to present, but not to the exclusion of others. Yes?
SENATOR GORDON: I mean it just it seems as if you asked-if you put out a net asking for people that have concerns, and were going to criticize the universities based on those concerns, I'm just wondering if the universities had a chance to bring people in to present the other side, and I guess we'll see as it goes along.
SENATOR ANDREWS: Would you start there, Representative Welker, and we'll make sure that everyone knows who each member is?
REP. JIM WELKER: Sure. My name is Jim Welker, House District 51, Larimer County.
SENATOR KEN GORDON: I am Senator Ken Gordon from Denver.
REP. ANGIE PACCIONE: Representative Angie Paccione from Fort Collins and a member of the CSU Faculty.
REP. SHAWN MITCHELL: I am Representative Shawn Mitchell from Broomfield.
SENATOR KEN ARNOLD: Senator Ken Arnold, chair of the Education Committee in the Senate and I also represent District 23, which is Westminster, Broomfield, and half of Weld County.
REP. BOB MCCLUSKEY: I am Representative Bob McCluskey, House District 52, which is Fort Collins.
SENATOR BOB HAGEDORN: Senator Bob Hagedorn, North and Central Aurora and also MA Adjunct faculty, member of Metro State College, teaching primarily public administration now.
REP. ALICE MADDEN: I am Representative Alice Madden, I represent District 10 which is part of Boulder County. Mr. President, there is a comment I would like to make before we get started.
SENATOR ANDREWS: Yes?
REP. MADDEN: When I was invited to this, I guess, about a week ago, I raised my concerns to President Andrews via email, and asked him not to be offended, and we joked about that. It will be hard to offend him about this; but I wanted to be honest about the apprehension I had about his approach to this issue and I think it is important that I share these concerns because I think there is kind of a questionable premise upon which this whole thing started and by mimicking the structure of a legislative committee, I think that we are doing the public a disservice and we are doing the people picked to participate here today a disservice.
Because when we have an ad hoc committee or an interim committee, we usually start off with some sort of neutral presentation of facts or legislative council. We don't have that today. I would love to have seen the responses to President Andrews' requests to the universities but I was unavailable today, although I do have a copy of CU's and I am going to try to look at it while we address it here today. But I think, more importantly, committees hear from a wide variety of people, we get individuals, with you can imagine, every differing type of view there is on a particular subject and I think that that is extremely important and not that the stories that we are going to hear today are not important, they are, but it is really impossible for us to make an informed decision on any matter unless there is a fair and balanced approach, so that we can hear all sides. I think that no one wants to make a decision when they are working in a vacuum.
It would have been interesting to hear from an accused professor. It would have been interesting to hear it from a political student who is perhaps sitting in a classroom, and could say "yes, this professor did seem to be picking on this student", or no, this student really seems to like the sound of his/her own voice and we all wanted him to be quiet, or perhaps this professor has a personality of Judge Judy and attacks everybody. I mean, there are lots of different things we could have heard, but we aren't going to hear that today, and I think that, unfortunately is a little bit by design. This is a multifaceted issue and again, I think it's a disservice to those of you who want to tell your story and those of us who want to hear the whole story. And I would also have to admit I was little somewhat skeptical because I know this started with David Horowitz' proposition that there are too many liberals in academia. I have read and listened to Mr. Horowitz' personal opinions on this. I think in Colorado's case, he was off the mark. I also, of course, did not want to mention the other parts of the study that he relied on that talked about Economics Departments being very conservative or Business Departments being very conservative, because that would have skewed the position. I was so struck by the quote in the paper that Colorado, he said "And, at the CU Law school there's only one Republican professor." That was his big example of how tables can turn in Colorado. Well if he had done even a modicum of research, he would have learned that that is, by far, not true. The head of Bush's campaign is Professor Rob Dieter, who is his law… law.. excuse me…
SENATOR ANDREWS: Representative Madden, Mr. Horowitz is not on the agenda today and if you talk about premises, it is a mistake in premise to assume that many of us who are concerned about adequate protection of academic freedom in Colorado, are in some way simply parroting Mr. Horowtiz' concerns, that's just not the case. I think you are taking us off on a tangent where we do not need to go. You are certainly welcome to have stated your concerns, I think you have done that and I don't want to cut you off, but I would like to, if we can, began the presentation.
REP. MADDEN: I have one last point. Since this is the voice of minority, I appreciate your indulgence for one last point. This is about the Academic Bill of Rights I thought, and he was the author, so that is why I brought him up, and that example struck me as being so wrong, that I wanted to mention it to the public, and I am happy that the very publicly, conservative professors at the Law School picked anyone who is interested. My last point, I hope does not appear cynical, because I am actually quite sincere. In our elected positions, we hear about injustice and oppression quite a bit. We hear from the unemployed, the uninsured, people trying to get their children healthcare and good education. Personally, I would love to have the power to form a committee on these important issues, but I don't.
Serving in the minority, I have had my microphone turned off when my opinion did not agree with the majorities. I wish someone would have thrown me a committee; it would have been great. So, I wanted to congratulate you for getting in front of us today, there are cameras here. That does not happen everyday. You are getting the attention of the legislature, while a lot of other people do not and I wish we could do that, because there are more important issues out there that we do not get to address in this manner. This is a pretty amazing showing. I am looking forward to hearing your stories. I do want to congratulate you. You were obviously heard and people reacted.
SENATOR ANDREWS: There will be no displays from the audience please.
SEN. KEN ARNOLD: Thank you Mr. President, I would like to take difference in a little bit with Representative Madden in saying that the disservice is done to those that will talk and those who now have a chance to talk. The disservice would be if we did not allow you talk. We welcome you here this morning and we really appreciate the fact that we do have those that are willing to come up and voice their opinions.
REPRESENTATIVE MITCHELL: Mr. President with deference to my esteemed colleague from Boulder, I did not know whether if I would respond or not, but one simple point compels and that is if anyone is suggesting that problem of academic bias in a university somehow commands more attention from the legislature than the problems of how to build a strong economy, of affordable food, and the daily quality of life. That suggestion is so absurd, and deserves no response.
SENATOR ANDREWS: Let me also just reassure you, Representative Madden. It would be very inappropriate for accusations against individuals to be thrown around in here without an opportunity for that individual to respond. There is no need to jump to the conclusion about someone being accused, as you spoke of accused professors. I am going to ask the individuals presenting their concerns that we deal in personalities at a minimum and it would be inappropriate… We are in a bit of a dilemma here, because if someone is not named, there would be the legitimate question, give me details, how can you prove this, it could be vague. If someone is named, then there is the right of that individual to respond, that in turn, I think offends our sense of fairness. So I am going to have to ask the presenters to leave names out of this, to the extent that you can and the gavel is here in order that the chairman can keep this on track and be as constructive as we possibly can.
With that, the first panel that we will hear from consists of George Culpepper, Brian Glotzbach, and Anne Clodfelter, all of them are students at Metro State University and Kelly Weist, an adjunct professor at Metro State. Any of you that have written material to submit to the committee supplementing the remarks allowed in your time, you certainly may do that and you may continue to submit such material to help us fill out the record after today if you need to.
In order to manage the time, I am going to try keep each of you to about three minutes in your opening statements, as to place an opportunity for us to have questions from the committee, and then we will move to the next panel, and of course, legislators are always free to be recognized by the chairman and ask a question and make a comment at any point in someone's presentation. There is no need to wait until the presentations are over. Do you want to begin, Mr. Culpepper?
GEORGE CULPEPPER: Yes, thank you Mr. President. I just want to say on behalf of Nick Bahl, he apologized that he could not be here. He started his internship today with the Independence Institute and so he wants to extend his apologies to this committee. Thank you Mr. President, senators and representatives to allow me this opportunity to speak. In today's column in the Daily Post, there are three professors who stated that we agreed that students should not be used as political pawns, rather they should be encouraged to develop their own identities. We indulge the general consensus that higher education should not be an enterprise in indoctrination. Professors have the responsibility to teach the subjects that they are experienced in and to educate the students who want to learn, I am the chairman of the Auraria College Republicans representing the students of the Community College of Denver, University of Colorado at Denver and Metro State College of Denver. We got brought into this spiel so to speak about a couple of months ago.
It was an adviser to the Political Science Association, accused the Auraria College Republicans of working with the Independence Institute at Metro State, this is not true. I can assure you that the Auraria College Republicans have had no contact with the Independence Institute until now and we will continue to work with Independence Institute on this very issue. This professor accused the College Republicans of coercing, like I say, with Independence Institute and she explicitly said in the Political Science Association meeting-it's a student-lead organization that I quote, "Republicans needs to withdraw from the Political Science Association." This is very disturbing because the Political Science Association is a non-partisan student-lead organization. She is only the adviser of the students participating in all political affiliations including Republicans.
You know, as the chairman of the Auraria College of Republicans, I have responsibility and obligation to the 60 members of the College Republicans and therefore, I have sent, which I have with me the transcripts on that meeting to Senator Andrews to Governor Owens because they are the leaders of the Republican Party. The College of Republicans is a branch of the Republican National Committee. Therefore, we felt an obligation as the chairman that they be informed of what transpired at this meeting. This is disturbing to me because this adviser was also my professor in a class that I had and I felt very disturbed by this, I went to the chair and I asked to be removed from the class. And after several weeks of continuous meetings with the Dean's office I finally got that wish. Because when I went back to the class I felt intimidated, disturbed and bothered by the accusations and feel free to pick up last weekend's Rock Insider's Edition, you can read about that professor and what transpired in her class, in an editorial that myself and the vice-chairman wrote.
Had the ACRs had not been a visible organization on campus, we feel that this issue would have been swept under the rug and that the administration probably would just not have took her on it, but because I sent it to the Senate President, because I send it to the Governor, the administration now has to respond to the President of the Senate and to the Governor on what they want to do about the claims that was sent to the President of Metro State College. The Auraria Republicans stands committed to addressing violation of academic freedom and we will continue to work earnestly with all parties involved and we thanked the president and members of this committee for being here and hearing these statements.
SENATOR JOHN ANDREWS: Thank you, Mr. Culpepper. I think to be accurate; the Metro State administration is not obliged to respond to me or in any legislative manner because we are made aware of that controversy. I think all of that has been achieved here is the visibility of the matter has been increased in the public eye. Let me just ask you briefly to explain what you mean that you were intimidated by this interaction with the individual, who is both the adviser and the teacher of yours. You served in the Marines, how can somebody intimidate you?
GEORGE CULPEPPER: Well, you know, because as a professor, you know, she has an obligation to teach the subjects and by her, which I have a copy with me, by her account, addressing a concern on another subject matter to me on an academic e-mail that I sent her and by the same email her response to me by calling me unfair and unethical, that to me as the professor who has control of my grades, I am very disturbed by that. You know I…
SENATOR JOHN ANDREWS: Thank you that is the clarification I am looking for. Brian Glotzbach, do you want to go next?
BRIAN GLOTZBACH: Yes sir. I appreciate everyone for giving us the opportunity to speak here today. I am just going to go ahead and read a statement that I had written up and then we can just go from there. In my opinion, an institution of higher education is supposed to be a place where a student can gain a broader understanding and knowledge of a wide array of subject matters and viewpoints. With this commission, any institute of higher learning. When certain viewpoints are derogated or not presented at all, this makes the college admission impossible. A college should be free of ideological intolerance and persecution. Debate should be encouraged and all points of view should be included in this debate. As a Metropolitan State College of Denver student, I feel that this is not happening in higher education. I feel that the political left is over-represented on our college campuses and that the right or conservative viewpoint is ignored, rejected or condemned more often than not. While I myself am not having any instances of this in my current Metro State, I have witnessed it first-hand at the University of Colorado at Boulder and also at Saddleback Junior College in California. Our access is not just a problem in Colorado, but also across the nation.
SENATOR JOHN ANDREWS: I have a bag of questions, not on my preview, but what have you witnessed at Boulder?
BRIAN GLOTZBACH: I have a political science, actually a political geography class, and in my opinion it was centered pretty much to the left. The required readings, I felt were, you know, of the left and not representative of a broader viewpoint, yet goes to challenging both sides of the debate.
SENATOR JOHN ANDREWS: Did you get a mark on your course that you felt was fair?
BRIAN GLOTZBACH: You know, I have been under attack regarding my statement, but it could have been and it could not have been. I am not privy to what the judgment of the professor was, I could get a B in the class. I felt I did A work, our exams are strictly essay questions that were subjectively graded. There was no right or wrong answer, so depending on someone's interpretation it could have been graded differently, in my opinion.
SENATOR JOHN ANDREWS: Did you wish to tell the committee something else?
BRIAN GLOTZBACH: Well, I just want to go. You know, as for my time at Metro State and I have gotten it in the CU Boulder. I have not had any type of this stuff going in the classroom. However, I do still see the proof. I work in the campus bookstore and I have seen all the books that are required readings for the classes. I have observed that there is a distinct lack of material from any author that could be considered a conservative. Liberals on the other hand, are a little luckier. Michael Moore's books are required for history classes. Howard Zinn is a constant requirement. Noam Chomsky has been a required reading. My question is why is Sean Hannity never required reading. How come Bill O'Reilley's books are not there? How come different points of view are not presented to our young men and women? Why do we need to limit opposing viewpoints and thus limit the quality of education that these students receive, and that the taxpayers of this state subsidize? Basically, what I would like to see is that we have all sides of the debate open and that no one is under represented on campus when it comes to this debate. And I feel that right now, the conservative point of view is definitely lacking on our campuses.
SENATOR JOHN ANDREWS: Thank you. Anne Clodfelter.
ANNE CLODFELTER: I would like to thank the committee and the president and the senators' representatives for listening to my statement. I'd just like to read something I wrote up. I am a sophomore from Metro State College and I am currently pursuing a history major. I am working towards a career as a historian, researcher, or even a college professor and I am concerned about the level of liberal bias towards lawmakers and presidents in history that I see in my school. Those professors are excellent teachers and it is a pleasure to be taught by them. However, some professors see the classroom as an instrument with which to liberally indoctrinate the students. The professor has, in my American History, in the fall semester of 2003, was a very qualified teacher.
At that time, there was no room in her class for conservative points of view. Every day, she used the classroom as a sounding board and she insulted the president whose policies are those of Republican lawmakers. One day she got up in front of the class and told us that the president could not be an historian and be a Republican. This hurt me very much because I am a conservative and I want to be a historian. Another time, she got up in front of the class and said that President Bush started the Iraqi war because he got a hard-on. I thought this was a very inappropriate way to be talking about the president. Instead of spending on history, my professor spends a significant amount of time lecturing on current programs of the Republicans and the president. When my peers or I tried arguing and tried to question or argue against her ideas, she ridiculed them, leaving the person feeling humiliated in front of the class. One of my more outspoken conservative peers began skipping classes because as she told the teacher, she was afraid to come to class.
The teacher refused to acknowledge the student's fears. The political talk is one thing, I would not have to deal with her after the class is over, but I had a hard time dealing with political bias towards history. The books she chose for the class called President Reagan's philosophy on the use of tax cuts to boost the economy, quote, "a naïve plan." When tax cuts worked to boost the economy, the book stated it was, quote, "Good luck." The book and the teacher portrayed the Rosenberg's as martyrs, and Stalin and his successors in the Soviet Union as persecuted by the United States. This bias towards history affected me as a history major because I want to leave college with an understanding of the conservative viewpoints of history as well as the liberal ones. I want to get the whole picture.
I am deeply discouraged about the idea of becoming a college professor because of what I see on campus. The severe lack of conservative faculty at my college and the way the conservative faculty is treated have led me to believe that I will have a hard time finding a position if I do decide to become a college professor. I have given serious thought about teaching at the collegiate level, but currently I do not see this as a realistic possibility until hiring and firing practices is free from discrimination. The majority of professors on campus are good teachers, they leave their biases out of the classroom. College professors like the one I had this Fall need to be made accountable for their statements and how it affects their students. Professors are already made accountable for how they treat minority students in their classrooms. I do not think that the way they treat students with different political affiliations should be any different.
SENATOR JOHN ANDREWS: Of course you recognize that a history text or any book of history that takes a dissembling view about the history of the Cold War or the effect of Reagan's economic policies has just as much right in the curriculum as any other book. You recognize that, don't you ma'am?
ANNE CLODFELTER: Yes.
SENATOR JOHN ANDREWS: You mentioned hiring and firing practices needing to be free of discrimination in order for a student like yourself to want to pursue a career in teaching in higher education. Do you have any firsthand instances or specifics that would make you believe there is such discrimination, because the written policy summary submitted to me by all the presidents emphasize that there is not supposed to be any such discrimination on the basis of one's political or religious beliefs in being hired, fired or promoted in the faculty? Do you have anything to the contrary that would be specific?
ANNE CLODFELTER: How I see they have treated, the way they treated this professor and also how I have seen that there are not a lot of conservative faculty and I'm just thinking that just as many conservative faculty would want to be teachers as liberal faculty, and I just think that, I mean, some people think that most liberals would want to be teachers, but I still think that there should be more conservative faculty, but…
SENATOR JOHN ANDREWS: Thank you.
ANNE CLODFELTER: It just seems like it...
SENATOR JOHN ANDREWS: Yes, Representative Paccione.
REPRESENTATIVE PACCIONE: Thank you, Mr. President. I'm just curious to know how you know the number of conservative faculty in the university?
SENATOR JOHN ANDREWS: Anne?
ANNE CLODFELTER: All the teachers I've had so far seem to have a very liberal point of view. I even had a teacher that has come up to me and had a conservative point of view. They all seem to have, they made quotes about the president, quotes about politics, just on the side, usually on the side, with the students just offhand remarks that pretty much dictates that they are liberal faculty and so far I haven't had a teacher that hadn't done that and now it just gives me pretty much a perspective that none of them are conservative.
SENATOR ANDREWS: Let me just point out one other thing I heard you say. You had mentioned having to sit in a classroom and listen to insults against the President and members of Congress and State Legislatures and I can't speak for Congress and the president, but we as state legislators are fairly well insult-proof here, so not a concern.
KELLY WIEST: Good morning, members of the committee. My name is Kelly Wiest. I am an adjunct instructor in the political science department at Metro State, along with the Honorable Senator Bob Hagedorn. I am, of course, only speaking for myself today. I am not for the political science department or Metro State. I am a conservative and I have worked in politics for about 10 years now. I find myself in an interesting position to assess this current debate regarding intellectual diversity on campus. I am finding that there are many students at our colleges, especially at my college, who are made to feel isolated and intimidated regarding their political opinions, and this is negatively affecting our educational experience.
Students who study political science at a major or minor level should expect to be challenged on a regular basis not only in an educational way, but in a political way as well. Politics is about human opinion, how we choose to govern ourselves, the underlying philosophies of that government, the actual way that our government works, and especially how all these things change all the time are the basis for the study of politics. Encountering a narrow range of answers to these questions does the political science student a grave disservice. However, for the non-political science major, it is beyond defense.
Students in a political science course, whether they are political science majors or math majors, must expect their instructors to have some opinion in politics, from the basic questions of what is the purpose of government to the specific issues of the day, such as is gay marriage constitutional? But they must also expect that they will be given the tools with which to assess such questions from both or all sides to formulate their own opinions and to persuasively present these opinions in a larger political forum. This is simply good teaching. Should students in other types of courses like nursing, child development, or math expect daily exhortations of political opinion from instructors? Is that good teaching?
What the students are telling you here today is evidence of a lack of commitment to good teaching on the part of some faculty and administration of Colorado colleges. Each student here today stands in the place where other students too fearful to come before you to tell you their stories. None of us is here to give you the smoking gun or any egregious act, which proves that government intervention is necessary. Instead, it is the accretion of these stories, which should need your attention. So much discrimination is hidden by the assertion of seemingly benign intentions. We blame the victims for being too sensitive. We accuse them of attempting to stifle other people's speech, for their assertion that their own speech is being chilled. We think of excuses as to why it isn't possible to find any instructors of different viewpoints, or certainly any that would meet our supposedly viewpoint-neutral criteria.
But all of this is a smokescreen. Students, the consumers in this equation, are telling you that they are not getting value for the dollar. If senior citizens were here testifying, telling you that a senior program was not serving their needs, in fact was discriminating against certain of them, wouldn't you want to help them? I know you would and I know you have. Conservative students often begin to wonder if they are as stupid and evil as their counterparts and instructors assert, since there is no one who thinks the way they do on campus. They often feel isolated and if they are not political people, if they are studying some nonpolitical subject, they have no confidence in asserting their political viewpoints. Students are often too intimidated by the very power relationship between the instructor and student to even consider that their opinions might have equal weight.
When they encounter an instructor who happens to be around with their political viewpoint, they are stunned and amazed. They feel validated. As a conservative instructor who teaches a general studies course, Introduction to American Government, I get this firsthand from many students. Those of us responsible for creating this learning environment including the legislature which funds the state colleges must ask ourselves if we are willing to listen to these students today and make a commitment to good teaching in our colleges. This doesn't mean mandating quotas of conservatives, or liberals, or of any persons holding a particular viewpoint on campus. It means a commitment to hiring instructors who are good teachers, who encourage their students to take the tools offered to formulate their own way of thinking and address all of the issues of the day, regardless of the instructor's political viewpoint.
SENATOR ANDREWS: I am just going to pause you there and say that that sounds like a challenge for governing boards and administrations and deans and selection committees more than something that would have a handle on it than we could address legislatively. Am I hearing you right?
KELLY WIEST: I think we need to very carefully consider that, but one of the things I think you should be hearing from students today is that they are not receiving an adequate response from those particular boards. Now why that is, is so far is not discussed and perhaps those who would like to register opinions on that particular issue.
SENATOR ANDREWS: Representative McClusky.
REP. MCCLUSKY: Yes, Kelly I appreciate your being here today. Since you are in the academic teaching end, what is the process of Metro State? I guess we've heard some discussions that people have concerns, you would be familiar with the process in place now at Metro State for students to go to someone or a committee or a dean or whatever. What is in place now and with the concerns we hear, are people doing that?
KELLY WIEST: From my understanding the process involves filing a grievance against a particular professor and that has a particular process that goes through the department chair to the administration, and Senator Hagedorn might know a little bit more that I do, since he's been there a little longer. I have to say not having had one of those filed against me, I am not particularly familiar with the process, but they do have a process in place. Now, some of the students that you see here today have tried to follow that process and probably they do not feel that they are getting the relief that they wish through that process, and perhaps they might be able to address that in a better way.
SENATOR ANDREWS: Senator Hagedorn.
SENATOR HAGEDORN: Thank you Mr. Chairman. Kelly, you mentioned at the onset of your presentation that college students should expect to be challenged and I think that is one of the biggest challenges facing us as faculty members as well and I have been teaching at Metro for 18 years now, and……. I am not aware of any complaints having been filed against me by any of my students, knock on wood…. What I see that is the challenge is how do you get students to articulate their opinions. How do you get them to sort through all these information that hopefully we're feeding them to be able to develop their own ideas and thoughts about a topic or a subject.
Now, I know that some faculty members, and I don't practice this, but there are faculty that will be very confrontational with the student and the intent is… and they'll also throw out another tactic is to say something very controversial and to see how the students react to it. Now there is degrees of how faculty members do that, but there is definitely something that could be considered a prejudicial approach by, you know, throwing out the kind of person, I've done it myself. I have said something in class that would be considered very controversial that I didn't believe at all, and then in most cases, I have my students sitting there doing nothing. Then I've had to prod them and I said, "Do I take it that all of you believe this?" and then finally they open up and said we have this discussion with all different viewpoints. What do you see is, how do you address this challenge of challenging college students. Ms. Wiest?
KELLY WIEST: It certainly is a challenge, and it's a challenge when you're teaching political science majors. It is an extreme challenge when you're teaching general studies courses wherein the vast majority of students in that course are not political science majors. They are studying something else, they could care less about this course. They are just required to take it. So, I too have found myself doing that kind of thing, not being extremely confrontational and I don't know if any of my students are here today, perhaps they can disagree with me on that. One of the ways that I go about it, having been to law school is usually a bit of a Socratic method, and really pushing the student to say look here is the, whether the case is if I teach the Dred Scott case from the Civil War which has the extremely egregious opinion that Negroes in what they state about Americans as we see them today could never be citizens of the United States. I highly agree with this decision in many, many levels, and one that when you start pushing them like what we talk about and then once I start from that notion about that particular thing you channel them more with questions and to thinking about the power relationship area and what government should do, and the Supreme Court should be able to do that.
SENATOR ANDREWS: Excuse me, I'm trying to keep it on point here. If any of the students who spoke previously were misunderstanding at objectionable protocol, opinion in classs as where it was really just an attempt to provoke discussion, I didn't hear that from any of the three of them, it sounded as though they felt that the precept stated saying in the CU handout that introducing controversial material unrelated to classrooms subject was unethical and was being violated, not simply to provoke. Let me also ask if any of the students can speak to Ms. Wiest's observation that the grievance process at Metropolitan State does not work as well as it should. Have you had an experience with that? Any of you?
GEORGE CULPEPPER: Yes, sir. Thank you. I can say that, you know, as a student I had to file a grievance with the college based on the professor's….
SENATOR ANDREWS: Controversy over the Republican cause.
GEORGE CULPEPPER: Yes! Well, just me being a Republican student and by her addressing me in an email, on a education e-mail. I had filed that, and mine got packaged my grievance that compiled together with other students who had the same type of grievance, but I can assure you, Mr. President, that had I not been the chairman of the Auraria Republicans, that I feel that the whole thing would just have been swept beneath the rug. You know, because they want to keep it, you know, at the lower echelon.
SENATOR ANDREWS: Is the process still working? Has it resolved yet.
GEORGE CULPEPPER: I believe it is still ongoing.
SENATOR ANDREWS: You're really not yet in a position to say that it hasn't worked for you.
GEORGE CULPEPPER: That's correct.
SENATOR ANDREWS: Ms. Weist, please continue.
KELLY WIEST: I just have a couple of things I have to follow up with for Senator Hagedorn, one of the things I think students can definitely take a particular idea from what the professor is doing in the class is if you make one controversial statement that pushes a student toward knowledge, that's one thing. If every statement that is made on a particular side, whatever side that is, I think by week 13 or 14 of the course, the student is starting to feel uncomfortable if they are on the other side of that and I think that's what some of them may be saying today. To finish with Representative McCluskey's question, what are the other ways students can register a problem with professors is through a faculty evaluation process. At a point during every course at Metro State, we have evaluations passed out to the students and they can fill out their opinions regarding that professor. They are fairly narrow forms. There are only a few questions. You fill in a little circle that may or may not best say how you feel…
SENATOR ANDREWS: Some of the institutions told me they have an open-ended comment?
KELLY WIEST: We do not at Metro.
SENATOR ANDREWS: You do not. But you do not and everything of yours is yes or no.
KELLY WIEST: Exactly. And I think all of us there, it is a scale given and compiled in a mathematical formula I think most of the faculty at Metro State, and I think most of the students would prefer that there were an opportunity to express more of an opinion on that form.
SENATOR ANDREWS: And one of my goals in surveying the institutions has been to see if we could tease out some best practices where one institution could learn from something that is working effectively at another institution and that involves obviously no formal legislative action at all. To keep this moving along Ms. Wiest, I gather from Ms. Clodfelter that you've had personal experience as a faculty member that you wanted to bring forward, or not?
KELLY WIEST: Well, since this is not a committee in investigating what's wrong with Kelly Weist, I don't know that it is particularly relevant, but it perhaps it is evidence of something regarding the environment on campus; there was a flyer passed out which was something, somewhat hostile to myself, which I took as hostile to me and as far as I could guess. As far as I may regarding the Political Science Department in my mailboxes, but I had no idea who wrote it, who passed it out, what exact problem they have with me.
SENATOR ANDREWS: As an employee at Metro State, are you okay? Are things being treated in a fair manner as far as your concerned?
KELLY WIEST: I would say yes. There are tensions, as you would always get when you get people of different viewpoints together in one particular hallway and, you know, especially last spring semester we had, I have to say that I think the Departmental Chair has been fair with me and I have only been there two semesters so we'll have to see.
SENATOR ANDREWS: We are organized by trying to group voices from one institution on one panel to try to get a better insight into what's happening at that specific campus, and several other students who were not among the invited presenters have been identified to me, and if we could take just one of them that might have a contrasting from what has been, or already given, there is Joe Taggert, Lindsey Kraut and Eric Weason. Would one of you would like a few moments to address the committee?
SENATOR ARNOLD: Mr. President, I would like to ask a question, a couple of them.
SENATOR ANDREWS: I first will take Senator Arnolds.
SENATOR ARNOLD: Kelly, before you leave the table. The surveys that are thrown out at the end of the class, what is that, what happens to them? Do they do anything? Have you seen any effect from them or any response from them?
KELLY WIEST: I have seen my particular evaluations and students are able to access previous professors' evaluations online their own through our website service. My understanding is that they are utilized in personnel decisions.
SENATOR ARNOLD: The other question that I have at this point of the three statements, are you aware of the process that is there, and did you follow process at any time during the conflict of interest?
SENATOR ANDREWS: Mr. Culpepper?
GEORGE CULPEPPER: I was not aware of the process until I got pulled into the process. I can tell you that since that time, the president of Metro State's office had been working rather… I mean good on the issue and they've certainly tried keeping me informed on it, but you know since then at the time I was not aware of how to file the grievance.
SENATOR HAGEDORN: Thank you Senator Andrews. Let me add something in terms of the evaluations as Senator Andrews did mention is that they are scaled and I asked many years ago when they first started it is that, what does this mean? I have all these numbers and yes I have statistics and I was looking at this and I mean… where do I cross the line that I'm not doing a good job, and the chairman of the department said when you fall below the mean consistently, and they look at him and then that determines whether or not there is a problem and that if they need to talk to faculty, why you are always in the lower half or below the mean response. They are evaluated and certainly I can say for the Political Science chairman at Metro the two of them that I served under recently that they do note how you are doing with the students and they do pay attention, and, fortunately I have never had that problem where I've fallen in to that category.
SENATOR ARNOLD: It sounds like an individuality program.
SENATOR HAGEDORN: The chairmen do track it and there are some indicators that you may be a problem, certainly with the adjunct faculty there might be a problem with the department or something.
SENATOR ARNOLD: Thank you.
SENATOR ANDREWS: And what about the other three students that I asked if one of you would like a moment to address the committee? Yes! Please come up. And we will get to the others if time permits, as the agenda moves on. Introduce yourself. Welcome.
JOE TAGGERT: Hi! My name is Joe Taggert, I am a sophomore at Metro State College. I have been following this debate quite closely over the past few months. At first I want to express my disappointment that I did not learn about it sooner at this hearing. I learned about it yesterday afternoon and I am concerned that there is not a very wide net cast for other opinions and if they day you would see dozens of people here today. You would see dozens of people on that list that you have that did oppose an academic bill of rights and who oppose this real ideological crusade on campus.
SENATOR ANDREWS: Well you see that's not the point here, Mr. Taggert. The point is to hear from those who are concerned that the system isn't working in their lives, as it is said to work on paper. And so, no one at this meeting this morning has said anything about an ideological crusade, have they? So would you stay on point.
JOE TAGGERT: Okay. I do have with me a letter to the editor of the Metro State College of Denver. This is at the Metropolitan, our school newspaper, it is by a student asking for the resignation of the same professor that Gerge Culpepper was complaining about. Now, I would like for you all to read this and you will see the very kind of personal and political motivated attack that it is. It is full of gossip, it is full of innuendos. It is full of personal insults. It is full of simply false accusations. And I believe that this is precisely the kind of attack that we are gonna see a lot more of. This is becoming incredibly divisive on college campuses. And I wanna know, I've heard a lot of anecdotes, I've heard a lot of anecdotes here from right-wing students, and I wanna know how can we separate a genuine problem from what amounts to personal attacks by politically-motivated students and I have heard now that there are a couple of complaints, actually complaints filed, with the Metro State grievances, and I don't exactly hear grade grievances, and just a few months ago Tara Tolz who is Assistant Dean of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Metro was quoted on the UCD advocate as saying that in the last year-and-a-half prior, this is a few months ago she said this, prior to all the those proposals about the Academic Bill of Rights. She said that the number of grade appeal grievances that had been submitted to her was zero. Zero! None! Now all of a sudden they are hearing grievances, we are hearing attacks on professors and I wanna know, if there is so much and why aren't grade appeal grievances, and I think it's because either number one, these students' grades have not been affected, their grades have not been affected; or two, that they know that their charges are not serious enough to file a grievance. As for why the stories, why the personal attacks, I believe it is to intimidate the liberal professors; I think it is to create a climate of fear on campus and I think it is to distract from the real issues facing higher education being the massive budget cuts and the layoffs at Metro of over 80 employees just today in the Rocky Mountain News says college cash crunch. This is the real issue facing colleges here today, and I think that this is a waste of time and taxpayers' money. Thank you.
SENATOR ANDREWS: Unfortunately, I am not paid to be here, so taxpayers are not on the hook with the time we are spending today. (Laughter) Are there questions to Mr. Taggert? Senator Arnold?
SENATOR ARNOLD: Mr. Taggert, one thing runs on my mind. Would you be lobbying here today, or struggling the same way as you are now if the professors were all right-wing extremists?
MR. JOE TAGGERT: I would use the existing procedures to file a grievance, that's what I would do. If I generally felt that my grade had been affected by a professor, I would use the existing procedures, which everyone admits, already exist at our school, they already exist.
SENATOR ARNOLD: Answer my question.
MR. JOE TAGGERT: No! I don't believe I would, but as I've said I would use the existing procedures to file a complaint.
SENATOR ANDREWS: Anything further? Thank you very much, and we will get to Lindsay Kraut and Eric Weason if the time permits. We now have five panelists from CU Boulder we ask that group to come up please. (intelligible), Stephanie, Flux, Mark, Nate. (0:57:48) Your female counterparts did not want to be associated with you three gentlemen, is that the problem? (Laughter) Who wants to begin? Over here, introduce yourself please and give us your testimony. As time management obviously is difficult, try to keep it to three minutes.
MARK R.: Yes sir. Senator Andrews, ladies and gentlemen, thank you for hearing me today. I would like to begin with a brief introduction, about 30 seconds of myself, to give you some background. My name is Mark. I am Christian. I am a conservative. I am also a proud member of the military, and in most college campuses that makes me an absolute anomaly. The opinions that I express today are on my own solely and not those of the government or the Airforce by whom I am employed. I have a background in finance.
SENATOR ANDREWS: You mentioned the Air Force, does that mean you're in Airforce ROTC?
MARK R.: Yes, sir.
SENATOR ANDREWS: Okay, go ahead.
MARK R.: I have a background in finance from CU Boulder, an MBA, in which I graduated first in my class from Saint Mary's University in Texas and I am currently a full scholarship student at the University of Denver Law School. I say this not to toot my own horn, but simply to say that this is the real problem by good students. I fear that much of what is said today might be dismissed, as simply poor students who did not get the grade they wanted and are simply complaining, and that is not the case. As I said, I have a degree from a large public university, a small private religious university, and a medium-sized private nonreligious university so I feel that I can speak with some knowledge in this regard. I would like to share with you two brief anecdotes. I believe that there are two types of bias on campuses. One is an intentional outward bias. Another is a more passive bias that simply results from the beliefs of the individual professors.
[TIME INDEX 1h00m00s]
On the latter, I have the following examples: I was admitted to both CU and DU Law Schools, and I went to attend orientations for admitted students to both schools. While at CU, one of the professor's stood up, and he was trying to sell the school to everyone and he stood up and he was extolling the ideological diversity of their faculty members. And he said, and I quote, "We are very diverse, we have old fashioned conservatives, two Marxists, and three different kinds of Democrats." Now, if you are not being serious, that would be very, very funny, but he was being very, very serious. And to me what that shows is a passive bias. This individual, I do not know his particular beliefs, but it seemed to me like he really believed that he was in the middle and that having a couple of Marxist to offset the conservatives and then three kinds of Democrats in the middle is actually an unbiased, centrist view. And of course that is out of touch with many Americans. The second example that I have is of a more active bias. I, my junior year, I was in a political science class, it was a required course, and I read a paper comparing and contrasting the media and the military, and those two groups. We learned a framework called the "Triple I" in which organizes institutions by their ideas, interests and institutions and you look at the two different people that had been drawn to those two groups. My father is in the media, I am in the military, it was of particular interest to me. (61:28) I wrote a very, very good paper, what I thought was one of the best papers that I wrote during my college career and at the end, under a separate paragraph, I included my own personal opinion. And that was read while by both these groups are very, very important to society, one owes its existence to the other, and the converse is not true. And it included a fairly well known quote from a marine corps chaplain, "It is the soldier not the reporter who has given us freedom of the press. It is the soldier not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech, etc. etc." In my recollection, I was given a C or a B- on this paper. I did receive a B+ on the course; However, I am very convinced that the only reason that I did not get a B or an A on this paper was because of that last paragraph, which I added into the whole thing.
SENATOR ANDREWS: And that is at what institution?
MARK R.: CU Boulder, sir.
SENATOR ANDREWS: The thing that you left out of your biography is if you were related to "The"  and if we could turn to you to get the state out of debt. (Laughter)
MARK R.: Sorry. No money, so it does me no good.
SENATOR ANDREWS: Can we add Vershara Lott (01:02:35) to this panel. Ms. Lott was brought to my attention as someone who had been on the list before, but I would like hear her perspective, and let's go ahead and take the next presenter please.
FLUX NEO: Thank you ladies and gentlemen for having me here today. My name is Flux Jason Neo (1:02:54), I am a senior at the University of Colorado at Boulder and I come from a very diverse background, not only ethnically, economically, I have a broad swath of experiences that I brought into my college experience, and so I came in to academia with a sense that individuals would like to seek out what is best in any given situation, and obviously, that is a rather subjective assessment. But, I would like to just ask two questions and then somewhat answer them. The first, is there academic bias and I give a resounding Yes! The next part for me is, does this affect the quality of education? It gets with this whole notion of what is best, and I associate quality and what is best as synonymous terms. Now, for the purposes of this forum I took the time to, come to really recount want my experience at the University of Colorado has been. And it has been one in which I, being an outspoken individual, who takes the time to do extra readings if need be to make sure that I am up to speed on the subject matter, if I do not feel that I am getting it in the classroom environment. I have had a situation in which, I have been the one voice in a sea, seeking to bring balance to my classroom experience. And that has been a situation for me that really causes me to question upon actually being educated or just becoming more entrenched in views that I already hold. The notion that was presented earlier about giving students the skills, the critical thinking tools, to be able to make good decisions is the crux of what I thought of higher education was about. When you learn basic arithmetic and writing skills, but now I needed a forum to test them and seek out opportunities to qualify a perception. And I believe that the classroom environment should be one in which, not only through classroom discussion, but through the material presented and then also for the insight of the professor, that one would have an experience that, again, forms these skills that I believe are essential toward (intelligible) (1:05:57).
SENATOR ARNOLD: May I interject a little here?
FLUX NEO: Yes.
SENATOR ARNOLD: But have you personally been discriminated against and if would kind of stick to that area.
FLUX NEO: Sure! That is just fine about to get to...
SENATOR ARNOLD: You know the procedure.
FLUX NEO: …three elements that I have noticed this bias came out. One is just overt. I can recall the day after September 11th, while we were in class and the professor took the time to stop the class and wanted to explain that it is very important that we take extra special care to be very sensitive about the Islam students that were on CU public campus. Now, preaching notions of sensitivity is just fine. The simple fact of that there was no mention of individuals that could not get contact with family members who lived in New York City. They did not know what condition their family is and loved ones were in. There was no mention of that, and so I took the time to say, well what about the rest of us, first-off… and what about the rest of those who are in this class who have no idea what the condition of their loved ones are, and the professor is very deadly serious and turned and said, I am not going to go there. And, as a student, to have the full-force of a professor telling you I am not going to take the time to even acknowledge that viewpoint that, yes, there are other other individuals that by excluding the other individuals, you need to be sensitive to them also was a very clear statement of her perception that this idea of presenting a ….., I cannot but it in terms beyond that of what I would see a liberal notion of how to go about sensitizing people to other individual's distinction if you will.
SENATOR ARNOLD: Did you file a complaint?
FLUX NEO: For that issue, No. I did not have any idea of what to do in that kind of situation.
SENATOR ARNOLD: Did you file a complaint?
FLUX NEO: In that situation, no.
SENATOR ARNOLD: Have you ever filed a complaint on any of the situations?
FLUX NEO: My complaint is registered vocally in class. I have not taken a formal channel of resolving my concern about these situations. I use the FCQs at the end of the semester as a way, because, that is the most overt means that we have as students to go ahead and lodge any concerns that we have about the classroom experience. To take the time out, just give you an idea, I run 18-credits a semester and I am a double major in Political Science and Communications and to have to go and find some channel out there, they kill you with the bureaucratic ins and outs. They take your spirit out.
SENATOR ARNOLD: Thank you… I apologize Mr. President, I (intelligible).
SENATOR ANDREWS: You are in charge that is fine….Were you raising your hand or having a sip of water, Representative Paccione?
REP. PACCIONE: Just having a sip of water.
SENATOR ANDREWS: Were you finished Mr. Neo?
FLUX NEO: Yes, other than that I would like to say that there are also biases in the classroom material and there are also biases in how classroom discussion is centered; (1:09:40) that there is a presumptiom that leftist viewpoints are "The" viewpoint to take and anything else should be considered second-rate thinking. Thank you.
SENATOR ANDREWS: Just to clarify what I understood you to say in response to Senator Arnold's inquiry whether you filed grievances and you say you have your studies and your life to get on with and we all remember President Kennedy's famous and very true observation that life is unfair. Anyone that gets very far in college, and has not learned that life is unfair, the time is going to come that they are going to learn that, and I think we all need the perspective that the ways in which any of you feel you are having a less than ideal experience, academically, politically, socially or otherwise at your university, there is no such thing as an ideal experience and you apparently have decided that the grievance process is too much trouble to be worth any result that you might get out of it. Is that right?
FLUX NEO: And that is not based strictly on looking at some process. I am very active in multiple levels of my campus life and I have interacted with many of individuals, liaisons that are there to address student concerns and there is a certain quality toward my engagement with those individuals that makes it clear to me that they have no interest in really seeking clearer results to my concerns in this situation. This is a individual's individual interactions, and if you are there making an assessments that this person does not care, it takes pretty much the wind of any sails you have that would motivate you go and again, engage in some lengthy process.
SENATOR ANDREWS: Let us take the next one please.
NATE STRAUCH: Thank you, Senator Andrews.
SENATOR ANDREWS: Introduce yourself if you would.
NATE STRAUCH: (1:11:40) I am Nate Strauch, I'm from CU Boulder and I am a junior, majoring in political science.
SENATOR ANDREWS: Thank you
SENATOR ANDREWS: Go ahead.
NATE STRAUCH: Absolutely, during the height of Civil Rights movement, Dr. Martin Luther King proclaimed that our lives begin to end on the day we become sullen about things that matter and I personally see this as something that matters very much as keeping an environment where students can feel free to voice their opinions without fear or retribution and I thank you all for being here today to address that. I have attended the University of Colorado, Boulder for just two-and-a-half years now, and in that time, I have seen first hand indoctrination that collegiate officials' claim does not exist. As a student majoring in political science, some might think that I have seen some of the worst indoctrination and while that is true, the worst that I have seen came not in a political class, but in a course on Macroeconomics. The professor that taught myself, and 500 of my fellow students in spring of 2002. He was an excellent educator. He could convey knowledge, and it was truly a testament what good teaching should be; but unfortunately, this professor in question, uses course not as a learning experience, but rather as a soapbox for liberal indoctrination. Day after day, class after class, he would forgo the finer points of economics in lieu of opinionated diatribes on both the President and his fellow Republican legislators. I approached this professor numerous times throughout the semester and I questioned his political motivations and pleaded with him to stick to the course, which is economics. The professor told me that he was simply calling things as he saw them. Although, I may have disagreed with his opinionated lectures, I at least still have the option of descent. When it came to his test; however, I was given no such option. Numerous test questions force students to either agree with his opinions or suffer academically as a result. And, in my mind that called for…
SENATOR ANDREWS: Can you give an example of what that was. What was the specific question that forced you to agree with his opinion?
NATE STRAUCH: I had a feeling you might ask that, unfortunately, since the class was so long ago, I do not have any idea of the specific question word for word. But he devoted most of his lectures to saying why the President was wrong on nearly every issue, and his tests reflected that. Some questions were about economics and were perfectly legitimate, and other questions were focused specifically on why the President was wrong, and forced students to agree with his opinions, and I felt that, that would qualify as discrimination moving into the realm of just political ranting.
SENATOR ANDREWS: Okay.
NATE STRAUCH: Toward the end of the semester, even the liberal students in the class who are beginning to complain of his vendetta against Republicans, and their complaints also fell on deaf ears. He continues to teach his class in the same way. I have a friend who is taking his class this semester and he continues to do the exact same thing and try to indoctrinate another class of freshman.
SENATOR ANDREWS: Let me ask, when the students compared notes and are in substantial agreement that professor is deficient in this or any other way, is there an effort to use the evaluation questionnaire at end of the class to really send that message up to the department head because, we have in front of us CU specific response that there is a further comments section and (1:15:00) at CU-Colorado Spring they specifically ask to rate the professor's treatment of students regardless of what the background. Was there an effort this case to send a message that the professor was being unfair so that that may be corrected in the future.
NATE STRAUCH: Absolutely, absolutely. The faculty course questionnaires FCQ, as they are called are given out to all the students at the end of the class so we can write both the professor and the class and I questioned on that questionnaire about how the professor treated ethnic minorities and how he treated issues, dealing with ethnic minorities. There were no questions about political affiliation. There is an open-ended response section and I did, and I am sure may others did fill out that section requesting him to stick to economics and not dally in the area of political diatribes.
SENATOR ANDREWS: Did you take any other steps to bring it to the attention of the Department Chair?
NATE STRAUCH: I did not. I feel that the faculty course questionnaires are given to us as student as tools to use to the point out flaws, what we feel are flaws in the professors' curriculum in the way he teaches the class, and I did use that to my full advantage to apparently no result. I just kind of wanted to wrap things up by saying that most of the professors that I have had at CU Boulder are excellent professors who do check their political biases at the door. They do a good job of showing both sides of the issues. But there are these professors out there like this professor in question who use their classes as nothing more than a soap box, just to give their political views and try to force you to conform with those views and that is why I feel that there is a need for legislative action against this kind of environment of fear that they have placed on conservative students, and I just kind of wanted to wrap it up by saying that I opened with a quote from Martin Luther King, the Civil Rights movement of 1960s was not about affirmative action and this issue is not about affirmative action as the liberals on the other side would claim. It is about making sure that there is an environment on campus where conservative students can feel heard and feel every bit as comfortable as liberal student from the classroom. Thank you.
SENATOR ANDREWS: Next one please. (1:17:15)
VERSHARA LOTT: Hi. I am Vershara Lott one of the tri-executives representing the, like, 29,000 students of CU Boulder, I am one of the elected tri-executives. I am thankful to be here today…
SENATOR ANDREWS: Please state what year you are and what you're majoring in please.
VERSHARA LOTT: I am sorry. I am a junior. I am actually an anthropology major and I am thankful for being here today so that I can here the concerns of the students at campus. I have not received any e-mails. Usually, I do receive e-mails from students who have concerns about if it is paper print as an issue. I have not received one yet from students about conservative discrimination. So, this is good for me here so that I can take this back to the university. We have means, we can really come to some solutions on how we can work through the situation. I did just want to state that there is a couple formal mechanisms that are already in place, and I know and I have heard a lot of people mentioned already like where students can go to their departmental chair if they have any concerns. There is the obudsman office (1:18:14), where actually students can go to as well and may have mediated sessions. They also work with honor code as well. There is also the FCQs. They do have that comment area where students can go in to lengthy detail and people do read those and take those seriously. Those students can also voice their opinions through there. There is also currently Eugene Pearson who is working with Dean Gleason of Arts and Sciences to improve upon. There is a grievance system that students can use especially for political science majors and they are looking to improve that currently. So, there is still, there is stuff going…
SENATOR ANDREWS: So, Mr. Pearson has specific responsibility for improving that grievance system. Is that who he is?
VERSHARA LOTT: He is one of the elected students also for…
SENATOR ANDREWS: I see, OK... and he is to liaison with the dean in that area.
VERSHARA LOTT: Yes. He is here today actually. I don't know, he came by and...
SENATOR ANDREWS: Thank you, I wish there were time to hear it from everyone, but thank you for bringing that to our attention. Mr. Pearson, good wishes in that endeavor and I think it is to the credit of the University that there is some effort to make specific improvements there. (1:19:17) Ms. Lott, suppose that you had received e-mails about this particular concern. What recourse do you have through student government to try to bring it to the attention of the university administration?
VERSHARA LOTT: Oh, what I do, what I could do is when I meet Chancellor Benny and the different administrators I could bring it out to them and really sit there and figure out what we can do, how we can improve. I would research also what currently the university is doing, and see what we can do to improve it. I don't know. I definitely would take serious action on that though. These are a serious concerns, and discrimination of any kind, and being a woman color, I am always a lone voice in class of like 1 out of 300 students in a classroom a lot of times in lecture halls, but I understand that I am a lone voice. But also, that is my job, but now it's almost like a personal…
SENATOR ANDREWS: What is the atmosphere for you as a woman of color and outnumbered as you just described. Is it an accepting, supporting atmosphere of openness. We would hope it would be in terms of racial acceptance.
VERSHARA LOTT: Honestly, I do not think it is. But, I think I am strong woman. I also know that I can handle anything, and also this is my opportunity to take my views being a woman of color to the students in my classroom. So yes they might not agree with me. And, that is okay, they don't need to walk out the classroom and say, "you know Vershara I agree with you now". The fact is that it is something they can walk away with and really I think about and may be in the future it might help them out with thinking about new things, (1:20:49) so it's just enlightenment.
SENATOR ANDREWS: No doubt, you would acknowledge from having talked to your parents' and grandparents' generation that it is a world of difference from how an African American might have felt accepted on a university campus, a generation or two ago.
VERSHARA LOTT: Uh huh.
SENATOR ANDREWS: And so, where I am going with this is, we must acknowledge some degree of validity to Mr. Strauch's analogy between the struggle for equal treatment of our African Americans and all races with the concerns being expressed by these students about political discrimination.
VERSHARA LOTT: I do. I do understand where they can be coming from then and I do acknowledge that if someone is still extremely discriminated against, it is important to address that issue.
SENATOR ANDREWS: I am not going to put words in your mouth, but thank you for expressing that and thank you for what you do in addition to your studies. It must be very demanding in student government and it is extremely valuable to have your perspective in the discussion this morning.
VERSHARA LOTT: Thank you.
REP. MADDEN: I have another quick question. You said you have not received e-mails about this?
VERSHARA LOTT: No.
REP. MADDEN: Do you get complaints about other things? (1:21:53) Do students see as someone to go to...
VERSHARA LOTT: I did get a lot of complaints, it could be just paper printing issues that came up. I get that and also other issues that students have with the Rec Center, with Wardenburg. All these different areas that student fees cover, I will receive e-mails on. So, this is one I have yet to receive one on.
SENATOR ANDREWS: In the interest of time can we hear from Jessie now.
JESSIE ULIBARRI: My name is Jessie Ulibarri (1:22:20). I am a third year student at the University of Colorado at Boulder, studying Spanish for the Professions and Political Science, which also has a business component. I was elected two years in a row to be one of the representatives on the University of Colorado's Student Union Legislative Council, which is composed of all the students elected at large by students and there also are senators that come from individual colleges and schools within the campus. So, its representative of everyone on campus. I wanted to come to speak about a couple of things in terms of this issue. First, I want to say thank you, like Vershara said, for bringing this issue to our attention and as Vershara also said, we have not received any complaints, by e-mail, by phone, otherwise to the student union office and we are the largest representative body, one of the largest student governments in the nation that has an amazing system for answering those complaints and answers those concerns. We have individual relationships with the deans and other administrators on our campus so we get to be able to go and have those conservations and open up those dialogues about what is going on on our campus; however, those issues have never been brought to us and so we have not been able to take that step. I am glad that this had come to the table so we can start this process within our own institution. So, thank you for that. I wanted to speak about a couple of things. First, I want to address the comment made by Mr. Strauch about the similarity between, the discrimination between conservative students and the similarities between those of an ethnic minority or gender minority or whatever there might be it the campus situation. (1:23:57) I think that there is a main key difference in that. I think that someone's political ideology is based on their ideas and what they might say, and I think that the discrimination that someone might face based on their individual identity is just on who they are. So, I think that discrimination based on someone's thoughts and their words is more of a person than the issue, instead of, you know, just aberrance of who they are. I think if we limit what someone can say, then we are limiting their first amendment right. But if we limit who someone is, I think that would be a completely different issue. I do not think that these things are that similar. In my experience in political science, I have never had a negative experience with discrimination, but I have had experiences the discrimination. I had a class with a professor, one of the most conservative professors in the Political Science Department, stating from the first day that he was. My political ideology is not conservative, it's more liberal, and from day one, we were forced to look a lot of conservative issues, and I think that, that class was one of the most positive experiences in my history at CU Boulder over the last two-and-a-half years because I did not agree with him, because I did not agree what was being taught until I was forced to think for myself, and I think that is the purpose of a university system, to be forced to think for yourself.
SENATOR ANDREWS: Were you fairly graded? Were you fairly graded in that course?
JESSIE ULIBARRI: I was fairly good in that course.
SENATOR ANDREWS: And, was the atmosphere of classroom discussion fair in your opinion, that you were not inhibited from disagreeing even though you knew the professor was contrary to your beliefs.
JESSIE ULIBARRI: I was never limited from disagreeing, but I was also intimated being one probably four people who identified themselves as liberal within a class of about 28 on speaking on issues and just time facing number issues, our professor would call on more people with rightist ideology than us (1:25:55) because there was more of them in the class.
SENATOR ANDREWS: Yes, Mr. Neo?
FLUX NEO: I am pleased on one level that the elected leadership of CU Boulder campus is going to take heed of these concerns and make some more effort to address these concerns. I would like to note the fact that the political identification of the elected leadership is so far to the left that it makes it a very difficult experience for students seeking to use them as a vehicle to reconcile considering if you are not of their cliquish "leftist group", and you walk in to their offices, you feel overt hostility and as far as the idea of mixing ideological discrimination and racial discrimination if you are treated the same way, I don't care, it's discrimination, purely. And I think that is the important part to keep in mind here that if you have feelings of insecurity, if you have feelings of fear, and are questioning every thing you do and say, because you know these individuals are seeking to get anything that they can to use against you it makes it very difficult to utilize a mechanism like the UCSU student government.
SENATOR ANDREWS: Yes, but we really can't go to a debate here... I
FLUX NEO: I do not want to.
SENATOR ANDREWS: It is a help that the two of you are here because I understand the intensity of Mr. McNeal feelings, but I am not looking at people that come across here this morning as either far left or overtly hostile. So it helps us to have perspective that all five of you are at the table.
SENATOR ANDREWS: Senator Phillips.
SENATOR PHILLIPS: Thank you Mr. President. What I would like to do very quickly and then I do have a question. I would like to read from this so-called Academic Bill of Rights. One of the sentences, it says, "Academic freedom consists in protecting the intellectual independence of professors, researchers, and students in the pursuit of knowledge and the expression of ideas". I have here the legislators that (intelligible) within the institution itself. I think that academic freedom is certainly important, but I do not know if we need to as a legislature begin to interfere with that (1:28:27), I will get to the question, what I have heard today, from just about everyone who has testified, my comment is that most of the professors are (intelligible) and good and… Nate, he is nodding. He heard the same kind of thing too. Yet, we have heard there might be a handful, and I am going to use words and as operative as they might be a handful of professors who, where a paragraph was included in a particular paper might have objected so much that the grade was a little bit lower. While in another instance anecdotal all cases that there might have been isolated situations or comments were made and how those comments were made to change or to otherwise stimulate possible classroom conversation, but things like that may have ruffled the feathers and possibly increased some sort of controversy, which may have actually been turned in to a intellectual, educational situation. What I am trying to figure out is, what are we here for as the Ad Hoc Committee and is it alright today to begin to interfere with this expression of ideas? We are also hearing that we have an overwhelming evidence of someone, and it would not matter to me whether they were liberal, conservative or whatever. We have such a tipping of the scale (1:30:00) to be going in only one direction. I do not even know what to rate for wrong direction would be because independence of expression and search for knowledge would result in those kinds of things. Then why are we here?
SENATOR ANDREWS: Well, is that a rhetorical question?
SENATOR PHILLIPS: What is the solution? Because we have processes whether we call FCQs or whatever. We have process for grievance resolution. We might need to add some comment or something like that to Metro's but it sounds like they have structured that so that it could be statistically analyzed.
SENATOR ANDREWS: What do you guys suggest?
NATE STRAUCH: If I may? I am sorry, I'm going to have to respectfully disagree with your assessment of the environment. These are not isolated incidents. This is what we feel is a pattern of discrimination throughout the college and throughout the administration. Where are outlets of resolution, thank you…. are blocked, because to a large degree and it's certainly no fault of their own, but I think the student council to a large degree is completely, nonetheless, the administration takes a left point of view on everything. Conservative students are systematically being blocked from representation in the college. (1:31:30)
SENATOR ANDREWS: Let's take another comment, at Senator Phillip's suggestion.
JESSE ULIBARRI: I will respond to that. I think that the question that you posed is very valid. I think that the resolution, the way we can resolve this issue is very much within our own institutions of higher education and it is not something that should have been brought to the state legislature. We have the FCQs, we have the ability to go to our deans and our chairs, and then despite popular opinion about the University Colorado's student union. We do have the ability to bring in experiential learners that bring in rightist, viewpoints. This year we brought in Anne Coulter. We have people come in and debate from the right and the left about affirmative action. We have actually two separate fronts to do that. We funded groups that were founded actually by Mr. Neo, which was the libertarian groups over the course of the year. We have funded a lot of different events from all different points of view and I think that it's something that we should be addressing within our own university and our own institutions and it's not something that should have been brought to this legislature.
SENATOR ANDREWS: I think that is the kindest thing I ever heard Ann Coulter called is when you called her an experiential learner. (Laughter)
SENATOR PHILIPS: I guess what I am getting at is, if we don't have a way to resolve these grievances or if in the process of pursuing these grievances, someone is being unfairly denied or something like that, do we have any examples of anybody forcibly being fired or students I don't know not meeting the grade because they have specifically been identified. Do we have any evidence of harm being done? And I'm seeing at least one head nodding out there.
SENATOR ANDREWS: We have two more panels to hear from and I think we just take that as a very valid question. What is the level of serious of the problems being brought before us to here today and then what is the appropriate response, given the level of seriousness.
UNKNOWN SPEAKER: Thank you. For the gentleman of this panel, I was going to ask if you are trying to speak with universities, I know there were a couple of more students from CU.
SENATOR ANDREWS: I think that what we need to do is acknowledge not only Eugene Pearson, but others from student government at the CU Boulder, and that would be Laura Ranch and Joseph McGussey. (1:33:50) I hope I am saying that right. Thank you for being here. There is no more time to here from you, but I wanted to note that you took time to comment and members of the press that wanted to speak with you in the hallway, you're here as a resource and we thank you for that. Let us stand down this panel and ask Mr. Hamm, Ms. Neo and Mr. Schwartz, and this group is at the Denver Campus of the University of Colorado. Steve Polk are you here? Let's try to add you to this panel. We are going to need to move this along, but if you can come up Steve and take a seat up here.
I will ask you to adapt your prepared comments, members of this panel, so that you try to bring us, not cover ground that we have covered and we will pass your description of the ideal atmosphere that you would like to have on campus and try to give us actual experiences or specific data of what it is like at UC Denver in your experience. Who wants to start? Please introduce yourself and go ahead.
KIRK HAMM: My name is Kirk Hamm and for the last six years, I have been highly involved in the politics of CU as a member of the student government, both as an undergraduate at CU Boulder and now as a graduate of the CU Law School. I come from a bit of a different perspective with my colleagues. (1:45:40) I came to campus as liberal, with very little agendas and I wanted to defend underrepresented groups; groups that were not given a voice. What I did not expect is that the group that I would be defending most as those who been silenced most would be the conservatives and I became a liberal defending conservatives. That defines my career. And I can speak… already you have heard about some of the discrimination that goes on in the classroom that my conservative students have made me very aware of. But I can speak also to some of the administrative concerns you have Sir that are not being addressed and I would severely differ with some of my colleagues in student government. I don't think that there is a process and I have heard from these students… it's, as I said been the focus of my tenure in student government. I have gone to administration. I have gotten very little cooperation or feedback. I have been told consistently that conservatives can't possibly be oppressed as they are in the position as society's power. I have had conservative students threatened. We have heard some of the instances before where I have taken their concerns to the administration and pretty much been laughed out of the office. You've all talked about FCQs and bias motivated incident reports forms. FCQs do to not contain any specific instances to mention ideological discrimination. Most students do not feel as if they read or put enough time in filling all of it out. As far as bias-related incident responses go, the administration itself is being a student, does not know that she is in-charge of overseeing these. Most students do not know how to fill them out, where to go, just turn them in or even that it's an option for conservative students. It is simply not mentioned. As far as the funding processes go, that you heard a little bit about earlier; Anne Coulter, Reginald Jones, Dinesh D'Souza, Charlton Heston… these were projects put on pretty much by myself and some of my colleagues in support of conservative students and each one of them was a battle. Sitting on student government, I watched as conservative students had to jump through more hoops administratively or otherwise than any other groups I have never seen just to get something from them. Solely because they had a different point of view. I did not see the broad ranging support but we have heard about.
SENATOR ANDREWS: Let me just pause you there about the matter of indicted speakers, because the last couple of lines before the footnote on the CU policy summary that was being handed off this morning quotes "the policy of the regents that the university has an obligation to invite speakers of all shades and hues of opinion, diverse knowledge and views and give them a forum where they may express their views without harassment and protect them from indignities." Are you saying that in your experience that that recent policy has not been borne out?
KIRK HAMM: Senator Andrews's I am very aware of the recent policies and the report issued by CU (1:39:00). On paper, it looks like very good. In practice, I would say it is incredibly misleading. I have never seen it as an easy process to get conservative speakers funded, as I have said. None of these speakers who have names were easily brought to campus, all of them required a fight. Often times conservative groups come to myself or to one of my colleagues, solely to get support to push it through student government to go to the administration, to scream loud enough so that they are heard and their voices can get out. But most of the time it does not happen. I would say that these are the exceptions to the rule and that the speakers you have heard of have come to campus solely because of the commitment of a few very determined conservative students and their supporters and it is not been an easy fight. I would say as far as the faculty goes in the administration, but you have not heard about of the hiring processes, you have some evidence of that (1:40:07). Over I think six professors of both undergraduates and law school professors have come to me over the past few years to talk on the condition of anonymity because they are afraid of the political consequences about what it is like to go through the hiring processes. The vice chancellor of faculty affairs tells me that CU hires the best faculty there is available, and they just all always happened to be Democrat. I find this attitude a bit flippant on what these professors who have come to me have said is that getting hired as conservative is nearly impossible. Because even though, you are not allowed to ask about political affiliation in an interview, you can gleam it from the writings of a professor or from the lunch you go out to afterwards in an interview. The faculty then goes back and talks in their committee about how they don't want that kind of person on their faculty. And so it becomes an incredibly difficult process to hire a conservative professor. If becomes even more difficult for a conservative professor to be tenured and most of them feel that they have to keep their writings very neutral, not expressing themselves before they get tenured. I think we have heard a professor earlier (1:41:20) that spoke eloquently of some of the discrimination that goes on and I would say it is definitely in the hiring process. The only professor that has been open about this that I know of is Dr. Edward Rozek. He has been very critically of what he says is the corruption in the hiring processes that need reform. You have also asked what can be done as a state legislature. I would affirm the mere fact that we are having this discussion is a good thing and that if things went to the college campuses it forces this issue to be addressed in perhaps a better way than it's ever been addressed before. My tenure in student government was devoted to trying to bring these concerns before the Regents, before the administration. In six years, I am sorry to say that I do not think I've had all that much success. I am hoping that you all can find a way, even if it is just to bring the conversation to the university; to address this cancer that I do think is pervasive in our universities; to remove it, and to give those back to those people who have been silenced and I think that is the most noble goal you can have in this thing. (1:42:32)
SENATOR ANDREWS: Thank you. The next one please.
TAMARA LOUDEN: Hi, my name is Tamara Louden and I am Flux Neo's wife, who was first identified as Tamara Neo. I don't have much to say. I kind of put all of my thoughts and my examples specifically in my written testimony. I am 7-1/2 months pregnant and I do not really have an interest in seeing my blood pressure go up here today too much. In a nutshell, I think that there is a problem within the Law School. It is far more subtle than it is in the campus at large within the law school it is something about the in-depth legal arguments from the conservative side, just simply are not given. Not to say that there aren't any conservative side arguments given that the more subtle ones that will turn a Supreme Court case one way or another aren't discussed, the faculty is overwhelmingly liberal and it is evident in classes, just by the material presented, how it's presented and the last thing that I want to say about going to the administration for help. In my testimony, I cite a specific examples that involved my husband and myself, and we were basically told to just forget about it and go home. It did not deal directly with academic bias but it did deal bias and that was the second experience I have had going to the administration and I found that when your view point is not of the majority's, it's too much of a hot potato for them to want to delve into.
SENATOR ANDREWS: Make sure that we have a copy of the written testimonies so it could be provided to all committee members. Thank you very much, Tamara. Mr. Polk.
STEVEN POLK: (1:44:31) My name is Steven Polk and I am a student at the University of Colorado at Denver. I am presently with Students Taking Actions, we are a student group with quite a few members and we've been passing a petition around concerning issues of funding, but um, it was mentioned earlier, about the hiring practices of professors and also the speakers coming to campus. I too, have tried to get speakers to come to campus. And what I have been told as of lately that there is just not enough money. And the hiring practices, there was not any specific, no information (1:45:27) as to how many liberal professors as there are to conservative professors on campus, but there are (intelligible) it is definitely endemic to (intelligible) and the number to get their PhDs. And as far as the hiring practices going on, I'm not even aware of such hiring practices considering fiscal state of higher education. We ranked last in the 26% reduction of higher education which was felt statewide…$100 million at UCD.
SENATOR ANDREWS: And yet the fact remains that there is still a very substantial fact, at each of these institutions, and there is a constant need to fill up vacancies and it maybe relatively leaner than it was, it is leaner. The fact remains that hiring is still going on, so I think you are making kind of a non sequitir there.
STEVEN POLK: Well, I'm…again, the ratio of liberal professors to conservative professors…
SENATOR ANDREWS: You're saying that overall universe from which to hire would be dominated by those with a liberal point view and so it is not surprising that that's the sample that ends up at a particular institution.
STEVEN POLK: Exactly.
SENATOR ANDREWS: Okay.
STEVEN POLK: And also if there is to be real change, I mean (intelligible) (1:46:43) set -up and verify private institutions who would hire conservative students such as the students for academic freedom to go into higher education. Let's stop the political bickering, and let's set out looking for some more solutions.
SENATOR ANDREWS: I hope I can start the suggestion. It will all come back to (intelligible) (1:47:05)
SENATOR PHILIPS: This might go to both Steven and Kirk just to get kind of an input on speakers, that kind of thing. What is the basic process? What are the kind of things that are considered in, not so much the selecting, I don't know… What is the process.? How do you identify who gets what, and in particular if, it does not matter right or left, I don't know, wouldn't in the middle but if the speaker is controversial about greater security concerns that may cause greater expense or something like that. I guess Kurt co-directed that.
KIRK HAMM: I cant speak to any other campus besides Boulder, but because of the student union and the amount of money it has, it has a very unique funding structure for speakers sponsored by the university or by the student union that come primarily from cultural events board, a student fee funded organization. It is largely led by the speaker's coordinator. I served at that position for a year and because I have selected largely by what they can bring educationally to the campus. Controversy is definitely considered if we can find a controversial event that will rile people up, that will get attendance, that is something we will do. Security is a concern.
SENATOR ANDREWS Oh yeah, Kirk, this place is the same way. (Laughter)
STEVEN POLK: If it's going to be a very controversial event, I'll site Charlton Heston as a really good example. We had to take two groups of protestors off, both Pro-Gun and Anti-Gun. We had a lot of police there. We had two arrests, but it filled up the auditorium, it had great press. I think it did the university a good thing. It got a lot debate on gun policy going. It was a great thing. That went through student union processes. The student processes that normally are used to approve speakers however, failed with that particular speaker. That had to be taken into the highest level of student government in order to bring that particular speaker in and it was a lot of debate simply because it was a conservative person that really a lot people did not agree with. With student group projects such as the College Republicans that you have been hearing a lot today, their process is to apply for a grant at the universities and to see if that grant will be answered.
The policy on paper as Senator Andrews says is to respect all people's viewpoints and as long as they can hold a good event, regardless of what they are saying, they should be approved for funding. In practice, there is a lot of editing that goes on in what people approve of in what they are saying. And it becomes more administratively difficult for the conservative group to push through their funding allocations than a liberal group. In fact, as a CU administrator has responded when I voted in support of a conservative group. She really called me to task for it and said and she could not believe I was voting to bring a conservative feminist to campus because sometimes, free speech must limited to protect the values of multi-culturalism and diversity, and that some conservative speakers should not be brought to campus and that their voices should silenced. That is disturbing me. That is how the funding process works at Boulder.
UNKNOWN SPEAKER: I have had a similar experience in bringing an environmentalist to school. I have talked to student services and I talked to student government. My process was not as formal. I did not make a written request and I was told off the bat that since it was such a hot issue, especially with on-going David Horowitz brew-ha-ha if-you-will, it was going to be, you know, this decision could be considered another controversy. The noted the environmentalist was not only too expensive, that the student government and student census are willing to fund it, but not only was it too expensive but just the content of what she was going to say, was also in question. I feel that David Horowitz' Academic Bill of Rights, the attempt of the legislature to implement the Academic Bill of Rights is, you know, going to result in further instances where liberal or conservative radicals either/or is going to be, you know, very much looked down upon it in any campus.
SENATOR ANDREWS: Let's hear from Mr. Gabe Schwartz.
GABE SCHWARTZ: (1:51:46) I would just like to thank this committee and thank the people that are sitting behind me. These folks came out here, people that elect folks like you guys, because we are concerned about these issues, on both sides of it. I am a graduate of the University of Colorado-Denver, Political Science, with a Minor Communications and I am now a third year law student at the University of Denver College of Law. I am going to submit to you both hard evidence and oral testimony, instances of discrimination that has happened against me and some of my friends at the University of Colorado Denver and at DU law. First, I would like to submit an article that was found in an op-ed piece (1:52:24) in the Rocky Mountain News on October 3, 2003 written by three professors at Metro State, and I am going to submit to the committee… you guys can read it, make copies and so forth, but it does state that, yes, there is a bias in professors, and a gross bias. The Rocky Mountain News put out a study in this year, that 94% of faculty of the liberal arts college at CU Boulder are Democrats, 94%! What does that tell you? It is completely unbalanced. Only one professor, only one professor that was willing to take part of the study at UNC, was a registered Republican. One, out of the whole college! Now there is something grossly wrong here, people. The American Enterprise Institute in Spring 2003, said there is 32:1 ratio of Democrats to Republicans in our campuses in this state. That's not CU Boulder alone. So obviously…
SENATOR ANDREWS: Let me just interrupt and ask you this, Gabe, you are soon to complete law school, you're almost contemporary to some of the talented young attorneys that staff the general assembly and that help us form legislation and I would give you the experiment, the hypothetical. What if anything would you ask us to do in statute about party registrations of professors, because I do not want to get anywhere near that. I do not see that their any legislative response to that all.
GABE SCHWARTZ: Allow me please. There was a Senator with a blue blazer and he seemed to have left and I do not remember his name in my, and I ask forgiveness….
SENATOR ANDREWS: Senator Philips.
GABE SCHWARTZ: Senator Philips kind of stated earlier you know, why are we here and what we can do about it. I am going to tell you what you can do about it. You need to pass smart legislation that, that… not quota system like you said about, "well we have got 50% Democrats or 50% Republicans. No. We need to have more of a balanced approach, clearly there is an imbalance. 94% is an imbalance.
So what we can do, and is get together with students, faculty and figure out a smart way on how to allow conservative voices and liberal voices to be heard openly and freely in our taxpaying institutions, higher education. Let me give you a specific example that happened to me, while I was the founding chairman of the Auraria College Republicans while I was there. Me and a buddy, we started doing Youth for Bush for 2000 and we went out on campus and had Bush, George W. signs and so forth, and the Director of Facilities came with the Police Chief and I could name names, but I guess I am not supposed to. They threatened to arrest us and put us in jail, for expressing our first amendment, political speech rights.
SENATOR ANDREWS: Did it had anything to do with the proper permits not having been obtained?
GABE SCHWARTZ: Absolutely not!
SENATOR ANDREWS: With the rules being violated?
GABE SCHWARTZ: No, not at all. They just didn't like what we had. They just didn't like that we had George W. signs on the campus.
SENATOR ANDREWS: (1:55:29) And we've asked others about grievance processes. Did you and the others in your group try to bring this to the attention of the administration?
GABE SCHWARTZ: You betcha. I went to the Chancellor's office. I went to the Dean's as well and we were allowed back on.
SENATOR ANDREWS: So the system worked in that case?
GABE SCHWARTZ: Oh, but not after being threatened to be thrown in jail and we did have to leave campus and then get it fixed, and that should not be-whether your Howard Dean or George W. or anybody. It just shouldn't be. This department has just a few bad apples and it ruining it for everybody. There are great professors out there who are fair, who are balanced and who teach, and we learn from. But there are a few bad apples that ruin it. There is discrimination happening on our campuses and I think that if there is sexual discrimination or racist discrimination, you guys would be quick - and you have in past, passed legislation to stop that. You guys needed to do the same for this. Flyers at DU. We have had flyers such as this which I will submit to you guys. "Americans will always fight for liberty, 1778, 1943 and 2003." Great resistance from the dean of student affairs to post such a flyer in support of our troops who are fighting for our freedom and peoples freedom in Afghanistan and Iraq, which has proven successful in the recent days. Other pieces, "Uncle Sam-I Want You for College Republicans", "DU Law College Republicans." These flyers were eventually allowed against resistance.
SENATOR ANDREWS: Wait a minute now, you're talking about DU Law?
GABE SCHWARTZ: DU Law, which is not in your jurisdiction…
SENATOR ANDREWS: So that's out of our purview.
GABE SCHWARTZ: But, nevertheless, if you put pressure on them, it will happen. If CU goes in a way so will DU, the market.
SENATOR ANDREWS: We need to try to wrap this thing up. Does the committee have anything else to inquire to the committee and to the panel? Gabe, thank you very much and thanks to each of you. We have one more panel and I am sorry we are going past 12 noon, but I want to give those an opportunity to make their presentations, so we will ask Bergstrom, Daley, Vernon, I think Rob Lee has been added to this one and Kelly Maher. …This is not all from one institution, it's mostly CSU, I believe…. (pause) Who would like to begin? (1:58:15) Mark Daley, we'll start with Mark.
MARK DALEY: My name is Mark Daley. I am doctoral student at the Department of Political Science at CSU. Been here four-and-a-half years and maintain a B average and to use my PhD to teach at the University level; however, I have lost all faith, all confidence in CSU's Political Science Doctoral Program and the ability to provide me with legitimate training. I am testifying before you today because I have acquired first-hand verifiable evidence of academic bias and discrimination. In my pursuit of a doctorate, I endured discrimination that qualifies as minor to extreme. Here are few examples, and I will get to the more extreme as I proceed. In spite of degrees in political science and environmental sciences I was required to take two additional semesters of courses before I would be considered for admittance into this program and please keep in mind this program was supposed to be combination of both. I was rejected the first time for GRE scores, yet I would find out others with lower GRE scores were admitted. I sought repeatedly but didn't ever receive financial assistance. I was never awarded benefits normally given to graduate students such as keys to the department's mail room and computer lab or office space. I did not expect a corner office with a mountain view, just a cubicle. A faculty member on the Admissions Committee announced to one of its classes that he had voted against my admittance into the program. There was a faculty-student meeting at a professor's home to which I was not invited. My admission…
SENATOR ANDREWS: Mr. Daley, your written testimony has been provided to the committee, and in the interest time, let me ask what have you done about trying to grieve any this or have this rectified? (2:00:15)
MARK DALEY: Essentially, the testimony you have has been filed four times. If you will permit me, just two minutes...
SENATOR ANDREWS: Yes.
MARK DALEY: I can show you how this went through and was wrapped up. In my experience, the grading policies are the biggest component of bias. Sometimes the syllabus, subsequent grading policies would never be distributed until several weeks after the course began. Even then, clear standards were not given. I completed my course work in 1999 and proceeded to preliminary examinations. There were three of them, American Politics, Public Administration, and Environment Policy. My American Politics exam was deemed a pass, although I must confess, I am not sure why, it was the worst of the three. Public administration was deemed a failure. I believe the grading on this exam was at a minimum, unprofessional. On the initial dating of this exam, only two people graded the work; James Lester, who represents one-third of the sub-field was never given my exam and I have chosen to answer two questions he wrote. It was only after I appealed, that he would get it, and he deemed all of my answers passing. But this was meaningless because the same professors who had deemed me a failure initially were included in the appeal. My appeal of this exam included two professors, who had already deemed me a failure. Further, the comments of these members, these faculty members contradicted each other. Essentially I was left with not having any idea how to study for this exam. I was very well prepared. I was led to believe by them that my inner courses, my knowledge was far above average. They labeled me a failure on the same material that graded me as far above average. The more egregious one was the environmental politics and policy exam. Let me begin with the obvious. My professors not only put questions on this third exam that were identical to questions that I have already answered.
SENATOR ANDREWS: Once again, I think if you can summarize for us because we have the detail in front of us here. You've had the two minutes you asked for and in fairness to the others; and to help us get to the bottom line as far your feeling that the process has not work for you to grieve the ill treatment as you perceive it.
MARK DALEY: I will just conclude with, it made it to desk of the graduate school dean, and this is what his conclusion was after four appeals. The form, indicating passage or failure in the preliminary exam had never been filed with the graduate school. So, technically there was no record. After four appeals, no record of me taking the exam. That is what he is telling me.
SENATOR ANDREWS: Where are you in your efforts to obtain this degree?
MARK DALEY: That's it, this is where I am.
SENATOR ANDREWS: You are hung up?
MARK DALEY: There is not going to be a professor from Colorado State University that ever grades another sentence I write.
SENATOR ANDREWS: (123:25) So that's it? Are you going to go somewhere else?
MARK DALEY: I am looking out of state, yes.
SENATOR ANDREWS: Thank you. Representative Paccione.
REP. PACCIONE: I would like to just respond to that answer. Former assistant professor at CSU that… often times the student's work is done within the college before it goes to the graduate school. That's to support the student. So a student who doesn't pass tests within the college, those forms are kept within the college. It's when the student passes that we send it to graduate school.
MARK DALEY: Then why did I appeal four times?
REP. PACCIONE: The graduate school doesn't receive the college's…. it's red tape and bureaucracy, but the college keeps some of that within the college until the student passes and then it goes on to the graduate school.
SENATOR ANDREWS: So that would explain why the document wasn't on file. Let's go to…
ERIN BERGSTROM: I would like to comment on this, may I?
SENATOR ANDREWS: Yes, go ahead. Introduce yourself.
ERIN BERGSTROM: My name is Erin Bergstrom. I have been a college student for five years, and I am also the mother of college students. I have a variety of perspectives on this and I am also very deeply concerned about this problem of bias and discrimination on our campuses. I would like to just make a comment about the perspective of the students who are testifying today. This is a difficult thing to do. There is an imbalance of power here, they are putting themselves on the line, saying things that are representative of a lot of money, a lot of time, and a lot of suffering in some cases that we have gone through. And we came here believing that we had a time set aside at least five minutes to be heard. Now, I appreciate the time constraints and I appreciate that, you know, we are all tired and ready to have lunch; but you know, I would ask for the committee's attention and for their respect.
So, in summarizing the statement that I have prepared, I am not currently attending CSU, but I was a student there in the fall of 2001 during 9-11. I could not help contrasting the rhetoric that we were hearing that from George W. Bush who I admire and who I find his rhetoric is inspiring, I contrasted that with the rhetoric that I was hearing in one of my classes in Speech, and it was a rhetoric in western though. The professors seemed to consistently promote post-modernist idealists and despairs conservatives perspective. The four different examples that I have are here. Should I summarize them?
On September 26th, he said that, "the alliance on absolute truth, nearly always gets us in to trouble, such as the bomb, the holocaust, and war machines." He made these kinds of statements without qualifications, this wasn't the only one. Again, it was a pattern of things over the course of the semester. On September 27th, he presented at a campus teaching, which apparently is common practice on campuses throughout the nation. The topic was establishing contacts on the World Trade Center attacks. It explored economic and other aspects of this conflict that to my knowledge, in the 11-1/2 hours, that the teaching went on, the students were not presented with any kind of mainstream conservative perspective. This bias was also present when we discuss sexuality, and unfortunately we discussed it quite a bit.
During the discussion about Greek culture, he said that sex between a man and a boy was not necessarily child abuse, that values are culturally based and cultures change. His final lecture was about the Bodies of Knowledge, written by Dr. Karen Elizabeth Altman. One of Altman's theories is that rhetorical enlightenment could be gained through group sex. Now, perhaps there is a place for this theory of study of discourse but I don't think that place, is in a campus audience in a sophomore level class. In my opinion, the professor was not sensitive to the needs of the students…. I'm gonna go offscript here…
I…One thing that has been talked about and I just want to make sure that all of you get it… is the radical imbalance of power between professors and his students. When the professors are standing up there and consistently from the beginning day of class, promoting some kind of party line, whether if it is a preference for deviant sex or whether it seems like, you know, the liberal or conservative or whatever. Students get it! They understand what the professor is saying and normally, when we are talking about the average maturity level of an 18- to 20-year-old student. They don't want to buck that. They listen, they take it in, they learn to play the game. I was told by students, this type of thing over and over again. And I don't think that even though life is unfair and there is no such thing as an ideal experiment, that it should be something that we should deliberately be subjecting our students to. I think that professors who believe that somehow freedom of speech gives them the right to take advantage, unfair advantage, of a student's immaturity and trying to indoctrinate them in the way they think life should be. I do not think that is what education should be all about.
SENATOR ANDREWS: By now, you could anticipate the next question from me, or someone up here. Did you make known your objections on a questionnaire at the end of the course? Did you otherwise make known your concerns within the Department? Did you to use the grievance process on this particular professor that you found objectionable?
ERIN BERGSTROM: I consistently challenged him in class. To his credit, he let me speak. I also talked to him, caught him in the hallway after school. We have discussions about it. I did not get satisfaction for my complaints at the end of course. I filed a four-page complaint with documentation with the Dean of the Department. Basically, he said that he will put it in a file, in a drawer. If enough complaints accumulated, then maybe they would do something about it.
SENATOR ANDREWS: Alright. Who would like to speak next, please. (2:09:52)
JOSEPH MULCAHEY: My name is Joseph Mulcahey. I was really at the end in the list and I appreciate the opportunity to come up here and speak to you as well. I am the student director of external affairs from Mesa State College in Grand Junction, Colorado. Mesa State, I think largely thanks to this committee and Senator Andrews, has taken steps to insure academic freedom on our campus.
SENATOR ANDREWS: What year are you in college?
JOSEPH MULCAHEY: I am senior, Political Science major. First, to preempt any questions, the grievance process for Mesa State deals specifically with grades, not any political side or those sort of things. So, realizing this, the administration as well as the faculty side and the student government created an ad-hoc committee consisting of three faculty senators and three students to essentially explore academic freedom on our campus. First, the committee is going to define issue, exactly what we are talking about her. Secondly, to find if there is a situation at Mesa's campus. Thirdly, create some sort of recommendation to the administration, to the faculty to determine what should be the best policy to go forth. Also, what the students are looking at revising our student handbook to include aspects of the Academic Bill of Rights as well as revising our teacher evaluation forms to more accurately reflect political bias in the classroom. So with that, I yield.
SENATOR ANDREWS: Thank you. Next?
ROBERT LEE: Thank you. This is kind of a impromptu speech on my part. I am Robert Lee. I am a senior at Colorado State University, I major in Political Science and my minor is in the criminal justice interdisciplinary certificate administered through the Department of Sociology. A bit of another background on me, is I do serve as the state vice chairman for College Republicans, so, I would admit that myself, I do take a bias as a student in to a classroom.
And a little bit more background about myself. For four years, I competed on the debate team at CSU and if you know anything about the debate team, whether it be the community in general, it is extremely liberal. Much more liberal than the classroom. It is very overt, it's not so subtle. If you're not liberal, people know it and people will challenge on it and people will threaten you on it. I was threatened once during my career.
SENATOR ANDREWS: Isn't the essential idea of competitive debate that one is able to argue either side persuasively?
ROBERT LEE: Well, I am just using it as a contrast to what I will be talking about… as a lead-in, and that is that the bias in the classroom is not so overt, it is very subtle and that is where the problem is. And the problem therein lies in the subtlety of the bias. I can attest to the fact that a bias does exist in the classroom, and I know this because I can recognize a liberal bias. I think much more than any conservative, just because my experiences to the debate community and Joe is a colleague in the debate community of mine and could probably attest to this as well. Numerous readings throughout my courses in modern political theory dealt with very radical left thinkers, like Michelle Pluto, (2:12:52) who advocated violence against oppressors... physical violence against the oppressors, but no mention of more conservative radical thinkers or more conservative moderate thinkers in any way. The fact was that this modern political theory class was a very liberal bias. Now I do tend to be very outspoken if I disagree with some things, so I will admit that in any of my classes where I saw bias, I was willing to pipe out about it, but not all students are. In another class, in an Eastern European Politics class, my professor came in the day after elections 2002 and began a tirade about Governor Owens. What he has to do with anything about Eastern European Politics, I do not know. What the Tabor Amendment has anything to do with Eastern European Politics, I don't know. But she felt it necessary to speak for about 10 minutes at the beginning of class and for about another five to 10 minutes later on in that class. Now, I did question her on it and we had a little jousting in class, but like I said, I think I am just very unique in the way that I am very verbose...
SENATOR ANDREWS: Has this ever operated in your experience unfairly in a grade you have received or in your ill-treatment in terms of not being allowed to voice your thoughts freely in class?
ROBERT LEE: I will say that in terms of grading, I do not think so. I talked with Erin to a great extent about this, and I have sat down and thought about the biases that I probably experienced and it hasn't necessarily been in grading. I think it probably takes more of the fact that professors have maybe tried to discredit me in class with comments directed towards me and this professor in this Eastern European Politics class. After sitting down and thinking about it for a very long time yesterday, probably attempted to do that, but the fact was that even in topics relating to Eastern European Politics, she always discussed Marxism and the good things about it. But never talked about why these countries may have expressed or accepted free market principles. It is a very, very pertinent topic to Eastern European Politics given the changes that have gone through that region of the world in the last 15 to 20 years. But no mention about it whatsoever. Unfortunately, I didn't bring that up in class at that time. Sitting back and looking at this, its just… it is extremely subtle and that is wherein the problem lies. As Erin said, it is for professors to take advantage of their biases and take advantage of unsubtle biases on the part of younger students.
I am not here to argue that there should be quotas or anything like that. In fact, I like liberal professors expressing their opinions, but it is unfortunate that they do not express the opinions of opposing thinkers to them or accept students who oppose them in any way, and that is where the problem lies. The fact that it is not a balanced education on their part.
SENATOR ANDREWS: To get back to what Ms. Wiest was saying from the Metro faculty an hour or more ago. You have good teaching or you don't. And I think you're saying that based on your experience that this doesn't measure up to good teaching. (2:15:44) Senator Hagedorn.
SENATOR HAGEDORN: Thank you Senator Andrews, I just want to find out and maybe you wanted to pause between here and you did not; but you mentioned, you ask a professor his opinion and then you said there immediately after that, he does not give other sides of the discussion. Now, when a student of mine asked for my opinion, I preface it with, "you asked for my opinion, here is my opinion." I see no obligation as a faculty member to give the other side of the argument when a student has asked for my opinion and clarifying the fact before my response, "this is my opinion." So, if you ask me what my opinion is on an issue, you're gonna get one opinion and I am not going to sit there and give you a multiple choice type of selection of opinions. You asked for mine. I don't know if you forgot to pause there or not, but there is a discrepancy when you ask someone an opinion, you are asking for that faculty person's opinion.
SENATOR ANDREWS: So you've sort of taken your academic hat off for the purposes of that part of the discussion, right? (2:16:55).
ROBERT LEE: When I ask a professor's opinion - you're absolutely right, Senator - I want their opinion because I feel the need to either to agree with it or disagree with it. But when I go into a classroom and receive syllabus, I am not asking for a professor's opinion whatsoever, and that is where the subtlety comes in. This is not to say that every professor does this, because I believe, like my colleague from CU, that I have had dozens of excellent, excellent professors at Colorado State University, but this does say that there is a subtle bias, and it does include students. As impressionable as young freshman and sophomores are, a clear and a clear lack bias must be present for them to make their own decisions. The debate community, I think is evidence, that when indoctrination is horrible because students take those biases and they believe them wholeheartedly without ever questioning them. And if someone questions them, they are singled out, and this takes place in a more subtle manner in the classroom.
SENATOR ANDREWS: Thank you. Kelly Maher.
KELLY MAHER: (2:17:53) Thank you. I really appreciate you taking the time out today and I know that attention spans are short and that hunger is at an all time high in this room so I'll keep it very short. I am one of the student body co-executives, which is a fancy word for co-president at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs and apparently the only one to speak for my campus today. But what I did want to tell you is that, I feel from the presentations today, you may have as a panel the perception that this is a universal phenomenon. At the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, it tends to be my experience that we have a very well-rounded faculty on both sides of the political spectrum. And I decided to make sure that the panel understands that this maybe happening at some campuses, but it is not happening at all of them. Also, I wanted to speak on the topics of guests coming to campuses and speaking has been brought up several times today. In Boulder, just recently they had Ann Coulter as was stated before, Anthony Johnson from the office of management and budget from the Bush Administration, General Schwarzkopf was at the University of Colorado, Denver. We had Representative Mark Hillman come speak to us on the topic of abortion, which we also had several police officers at just in case. Once a year we bring in a large political figure who is national. Last year, we had former Mayor Rudy Giuliani which was amazing and this year, we had former Senator Bob Dole who is just a really cool guy. As a Republican and as a Christian and being proud of it, I have been discriminated against before in the classroom. And as a very liberal person I wrote it up and I took it to the Dean. I would take it all the way to the Chancellor. I was in a speech class actually a little less than three weeks ago and I presented a speech on higher ed funding which has been a personal cause with me this year. At the end I put a list of state representatives and senators to contact, and at the end of the list I included two senators and one representative out from El Paso County. Needless to say, they were Republican, and I was counted down ten points for being biased because I presented the Republican name. I left out more Republicans from El Paso County than I did Democrats because we have one, but...
SENATOR HAGEDORN: There's just one Democrat in El Paso County?
KELLY MAHER: Excuse me? (Laughter)
SENATOR HAGEDORN: Are you referring to the one Democrat?
SENATOR ANDREWS: One in the legislative delegation. I think there are actually several in the entire county population. (Laughter)
KELLY MAHER: But I did not include that, specific representative and I was counted down and the teacher comes to me afterwards... he was not a professor, he was a new instructor and said, "you're being biased"… because I… everybody knows.
SENATOR ANDREWS: This is what you took to the Dean?
KELLY MAHER: Oh absolutely.
SENATOR ANDREWS: … and what was the result of taking it to the Dean?
KELLY MAHER: The result was my grade was changed and he was chastised severely. So.. the thing…
SENATOR ANDREWS: Did it have anything to do with you being permanent in student government? Do you think you got extra good treatment from the administration, as a result?
KELLY MAHER: That is a very valid question and not one that I have an answer to.
SENATOR ANDREWS: You are not allowed to ask the committee if a cop is ever let us off with a warning when we were speeding.
KELLY MAHER: (141:46) Yeah, or you guys…tickets, and you have those special license plates, so they know…
SENATOR ANDREWS: We have gotten tickets, for the record.
KELLY MAHER: But, I mean… and that's a very valid question, and not that I have an answer to, but with my own experience and I cannot say whether or not that I would be treated the same had I not known the Dean previously and were I not in the position that I am in now. But what I am saying is that, the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, maybe because of its geographic location and the fact that we tend have very Republican voter registration, we just have a lot of Republicans down there. I am proud of it, but we tend to not have all the same problems that are being presented today. So I don't want you to walk away from here thinking this is a universal problem. It may be isolated in certain cases as is being presented today. It is not necessarily, what I am saying is not to throw the baby out with the bath water. Thank you. (2.22.54)
SENATOR ANDREWS: Thank you.
REP. PACCIONE: I just want to have a couple of comments because I have heard this a few time now, mentioned that there are a few bad apples. Generally speaking, Robert said "I had dozens of professors that were good professors and it's been said quite a few times. I feel like I… got a couple of things. One, that we have given somewhat of an indictment to some college professors when the professor we choose here said that there is lack of commitment to good teaching on our campuses and I would really have to disagree with that, that there is actually phenomenal teaching being done on our campuses and that is why we have so many people who want to come here from other countries because they know that our colleges are great places to get educated and so, we have a few bad apples. Now, Mark R. said that he was an anomaly. I am going to tell you an anomaly, I am an evangelical Christian and a Democrat, now that's an anomaly. I am also the first woman to coach boy's high school basketball, that's anomaly. No one else has ever done it since and I'm biracial, but I often get mistaken for white and so I have been privy to conversations by a few of those bad apples white racists who say things because they think I'm white, that they probably would not say if they knew that I was half-black. So I have been privy to those kinds of things. Now I don't indict all whites, because there are a few white racists. In the same way, I do not think we should indict college professors because there may be a few who are a little bit too liberal in their liberal positions, but they say it perhaps too many times or they use to many books. Really what we have is a cultural bias at colleges. Remember that colleges they are almost all white. So the authors of the books that are now required reading are all white authors. As a person of color, I do not get representation either and so when I was in college, I read books mostly by white authors. I read books written mostly by men and so we do have some biases and whether they're subtle or overt, there are many biases and so the question is, is it the legislature's responsibility to intervene in this notion of academic or subtle biases. Is that not the purview of the university where there is a process. There is a grievance process. There is an evaluation process and those are have their right processes. What the legislature should do and what we should really be focusing on is how to fund our education. How to make it more accessible so that it is not all white. How to make it more affordable so that more kids can go. We cut so much in financial aid. There are other places where the legislature really does have a significant impact on higher education and that is where we need to be focusing and let the universities deal with the kinds of bias that may be there. You know if you read the Academic Bill of Rights, which I am sure most of you have. I do not think that there are many college professors who would disagree with the fact that we went ahead. In fact in… what's your last name?
ERIN BERGSTROM: Bergstrom.
REP. PACCIONE: Bergstrom, in your comments… I think this exceptionally well said. You object that the professors are arbitrarily deciding which belief they will present in the classroom. Absolutely, I agree with that. I think every person on both sides of the aisle (2:26:21) would agree with that. We live in a republic. We celebrate the democratic ideals of equality and diversity. I am not so sure that we really celebrate diversity. In either sense they intellectual diversity, they may not be celebrating diversity, but it is a value of ours and that the university should be a free market place of ideas, of course it should be. I do not think you have any argument. What the argument is, how many bad apples do we have and if it's pervasive, perhaps in a discipline, it could be pervasive, it could. I agree… I'm in the school of education. In the school of education, I would say it's probably pervasive that the most people in the school of education are probably Democrats. So within particular disciplines it may be pervasive, but in general speaking, I don't think anyone would disagree that we want the university to be a free marketplace of ideas. That's what makes us a great country. That's what--iron sharpens iron. (2:27:16). But out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks and so, you know I am a Democrat. I am going speak like a Democrat. So, if I am asked for my opinion, so like Senator Hagedorn said, I'm probably going to say what my opinion is from my heart. So, I think we have to find out where is the legislature's responsibility in dealing with these biases in many different ways. Culture, race, academics, political opinions. (2:27:45) Some of the things are invisible and should stay invisible. So, I think we have a lot to deal with and I am just curious to see how many "bad apples" are there? How many racist whites would we say there is? Should we indict them all because of a few?
SENATOR ANDREWS: We need to hear from Carol Vernon now please.
CAROL VERNON: (2:28:02) Thank you. As you said, I'm Carol Vernon, I am student of the Graduate School of Social Work at DU and I do realize that DU is private institution, it's not currently under consideration but I think I have a success story here. I think in one way I am glad that I am the last person presenting because I think that I can be a voice of hope because I have a wonderful example of an administration that was responsive to the complaints of students (2:28:33) on ideological discrimination. They were willing to look in to this issue and willing to make changes. In just a brief nutshell, because my testimony is in your packet, I just want to briefly highlight a few things. When I chose to seek a Masters Degree in Social Work, I knew that this was considered a liberal field. I knew that my professors would probably share this liberal ideology; I really was okay with that. What I wasn't prepared for was the many comments that were directed towards conservative officials and conservative thoughts. The negative comments in the classroom by professors and students alike. For me, I wrongly concluded that I was the only conservative in the school until, as time went on I begun to meet other conservatives. They shared with me their stories, but even more than, I began to meet moderates and persons who had other views, whether that other view came from a religious ideology, whether it came from their life experiences, but for whatever reason it wasn't the mainstream liberal thought. I began to see that there was a large percentage of students who felt marginalized from the classroom experience. I felt this was something I needed to speak on, and I did. I would just like give you my premise here and actually you alluded to that, that there is no one political party or ideology that can make a claim, or at least substantiate that claim, to possessing all truth. (2:30:00) To put it in social work terms, to have full and complete answers to all social work problems. So therefore, in a student's pursuit of knowledge, he or she must be presented with a plurality of methods, of viewpoints, so that we can come to our conclusions through critical thinking and reasoned analysis. I really believe it's our professor's academic responsibility. We talked about good teaching here. I think it's good teaching when our professors... I do not mind if they have their own bias, I really don't. I don't mind that they have their own views, I don't mind hearing that. I want to be challenged on my own views, but I want the classroom to be a place where everyone can come to table, where all views can be presented and they can be critiqued and not by what political party generated that idea, but on its own merits. That is wanted to see at my school.
SENATOR ANDREWS: So when you brought your concerns to the attention of the administration, a process has been set in motion that you feel is going to improve the situation.
CAROL VERNON: I am very pleased with the changes that are taking place. I would like to say that… this issues was first (2:31:10) brought before student government and before the Deans. I think that they did not see it as an issue or as a problem but what I will say is they wanted to try to address it. We held brown-bag lunches which the Dean initiated. We held conversations in the classroom about the intellectual climate and just a lot of open discussions, and what come out of that was that conservatives began to speak up, moderates... others who had other represented views, but even more importantly the liberal students began to speak up. They began to say, "You know this not a fair environment for conservatives and for those who hold other views." And it was actually the liberal students and I am very proud of them for saying we want an environment that is intellectually stimulating. We need to know the other side. We want to be challenged in our own views so we can be certain. In fact it really was a wake-up call to our professors and to the administration. Since these meetings, several changes are being implemented. (2:32:10) The provost has requested each department to develop a program assessment plan that includes the classroom environment. The administration is started a process of integrating new course evaluation to questions such as, "Did students see the classroom as a supportive and respectful environment in which there was an equal opportunity to share their viewpoints? Were they treated with respect in discussions and when appropriate, were multiple solutions to social problems presented from varying viewpoints? There will be a statement added to our course syllabi that diversity in its fullest measure, including political, religious and ideological thought is valued in the classroom. One of our required courses, the course on multi-culturalism will include discussion on sensitivity and respect for issues of diversity, including differing political and ideological viewpoints. So, again I do want to give credit to our administration and for having the courage to address the issue. To having the courage to say is this really happening in our campus? Investigate and be willing to make the changes as the director of our program and the academic dean has shared with me, they are making changes not because of any political or social pressure, but because it's the right thing to do. So I'll just end by saying to be fair here if I could wave a magic wand over my school and on my professors who are conservatives, if I would be the one being presented with a conservative even though it may feel very comfortable to me, I would not be getting a full and complete education. I want to know what other views are out there. I want to be able to hold that view up and critique it not from what political party it came from, but on its own merit. And so I just like to end and I think that's the beauty, or that's one of the strengths of our nation that there are a plurality of viewpoints out there and I would like to see that brought back, encouraged and supported in our classrooms. Thank you.
SENATOR ANDREWS: Thank you Ms. Vernon. (2:34:05) It is encouraging to hear a successful interaction between a student and the professors and a administration that has resulted in what sounds like the improvement of the learning experience for everyone without regards to their political viewpoint or beliefs. We really are out of time, Mr. Lee and we have gone beyond that time here and some of us have other commitments. I would want to thank the legislators who stayed in to the noon hour here. I thank all of those of you who came and apologize that we were unable to call on everyone that may have wish to speak. I made an effort to add to each of the panels, names that were brought to my attention as we went along and again the record remains open for any of you that wish to submit written testimony today or in the coming days. I would say at the end as I did it at the beginning, this is an ad hoc, informal, fact-finding process under the formal rules of the legislature and it does not have in front of us a legislative bill; otherwise we would have stayed around all day to hear from anyone who wanted sign up, whether they were invited ahead of time or not. When and if there would be such a bill, we certainly will that type of open-ended hearing process and I think that my colleagues out there would agree with me, we are always eager to hear from any of you on this or other subjects.
SENATOR ANDREWS: The committee will be adjourned.
[Time Index 2:35:30]