Letter to Diversity Office · 26 February 2004

Please adapt this letter for your university and send it to the office of diversity and equal opportunity. Make sure to send an email to Sara@studentsforacademicfreedom.org once it has been sent, as we will be keeping track of how many schools have made this request.


Mr. Administrator
Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity

Dear Mr. Administrator,

I am the president of Students for Academic Freedom at [NAME OF COLLEGE]. We are part of a national coalition of over 120 chapters on campuses across the country dedicated to promoting academic freedom, intellectual diversity, and civility in scholarly discourse at American universities.

Your office is charged with ensuring that all [NAME OF COLLEGE] students are granted equal opportunity to receive an education at this great institution and rightly outlaws discrimination against students, faculty and employees based on a number of characteristics including race, gender, religion, age, and sexual orientation. However we were surprised to find that your office's statement makes no reference to political beliefs or to intellectual diversity.

Intellectual diversity is the cornerstone of the academy. An atmosphere of civility and mutual respect towards difference is indispensable to the educational process and especially vital at time when Americans are seriously divided in their values and attitudes towards pressing social issues. Academic freedom is inconceivable without a free-flowing intellectual discourse. An atmosphere of mutual respect for difference and an active concern for a healthy intellectual pluralism are obligations of educational institutions like [NAME OF COLLEGE] if it is to fulfill its own stated mission.

We therefore request that you expand the mission statement of your office to include the protection and promotion of intellectual diversity as an essential element to a liberal arts education. This has already been done at Brown University by its Director of Institutional Diversity, Associate Provost Brenda Allen, who undertaken a program to enrich intellectual diversity at Brown and invited conservative students whose viewpoints are under-represented at Brown as at [NAME OF COLLEGE] to participate in discussions of how to accomplish this goal. We are asking you to do the same.

This diversity should extend but not be limited to the selection of campus speakers, assignment of required readings, and the funding of student organizations. We are speaking here of the obligation of the university to enrich intellectual diversity and foster the representation of the full spectrum of significant scholarly viewpoints and intellectual perspectives. We are not seeking to have the university impose any artificial "balance" or an intellectual quota system. We are asking the university to commit itself to a policy of inclusion, respect for difference, and fairness. In furtherance of this goal, we also ask that you add "political belief" to the list of categories protected from discrimination in your official statement to protect the expression of minority viewpoints on campus.

We look forward to hearing from you.


[NAME OF COLLEGE] Students for Academic Freedom