OU Student Group Surveys Professorial Bias · 25 January 2004

Filed under: Press Coverage

The OU Ideological Society will study issues facing students.

Stephanie Conduff - Oklahoma Daily--01/26/04

A new student-based think tank is surveying voting affiliations and reading lists of professors to see whether, in its opinion, students are being indoctrinated or educated. The OU Ideological Society colonized last fall to research political issues facing students on campus.

"We are dedicated to ensuring that there is a plurality of viewpoints on campus. A lot of times there is a political slant possessed by most of the faculty. Our group is working to make sure that all political viewpoints are expressed and heard campuswide," said Ben Lepak, finance and economics sophomore.

After attending a speech by David Horowitz, who was brought to campus by the College Republicans, Lepak said he then believed it was his responsibility to help make the university a forum for a free exchange of ideas.

Horowitz, a nationally known author and lifelong civil-rights activist, launched the "Campaign for Fairness and Inclusion in Higher Education" and has authored an "Academic Bill of Rights" for university groups to adopt for the cause.

"You can learn a lot about yourself and what is out there, but if those views are silenced, it flies in the face of academic tradition," Lepak said. "I feel the most important thing you can come away with from going to college is being exposed to a variety of viewpoints, and that is the goal of this organization."

The group has more than 40 members and meets monthly. Members are conducting a strategy to survey the faculty on political bias. They have plans to work on policy statements and act as a student think tank in various areas of politics. After completing research on foreign and domestic issues, they will publish their findings.

"After we complete this first study, we are going to try to get a student bill of rights passed in Student Congress," Lepak said. "Eventually, our goal is to get an Academic Bill of Rights passed in the State Legislature to guarantee academic freedom on campus."

Graduate student Casey Boyd said he is skeptical of the organization's preconceived notion of bias on OU's campus. Boyd said he received an ideologically balanced education when he was at OU as an undergraduate."I have had professors on both sides of the spectrum, and if you average them all up, I got a down-the-center education," Boyd said.

He said until there is a think tank that includes an equal representation of both ideological affiliations the result of surveys will be skewed.

"I think they will come up with their own conclusions, and I don't think they are legitimately qualified to come up with conclusions on OU's departments," Boyd said. "I am a skeptic of anything this group can accomplish."