By Eldad Yaron--Brooklyn College Excelsior, 05/17/04
Spring 2004 has been an enormously successful semester for BC Students for Academic Freedom (SAF). Launched only three months ago, we are now an undeniable voice in Brooklyn College.
BC SAF is a non-partisan and genuinely diverse organization. Our supporters include students (and professors) from all backgrounds. They are Democrats and Republicans, Liberals and Conservatives, members of USL and PHD. What they all have in common is the understanding that diverse students deserve diverse education.
We know people are opinionated, and we encourage that. SAF, however, takes no stand on specific political issues of the day. What we stand for is our belief in intellectual diversity and the importance of students' access to a diverse, fair, balanced, unbiased, uncensored and non-politicized education.
Intellectual discrimination is an invisible concept. It is not necessarily 'what you see' - for example, an inappropriate and overtly biased statement by a professor for or against a certain idea.
Many times, intellectual discrimination is what you cannot see - meaning, the other side of the story that is left unmentioned, for whatever the reason may be. Students for Academic Freedom wants to ensure the protection of students from potential discrimination against them for holding a dissenting minority opinion - for seeing things differently.
Free education is not only the type that comes without a bill. "Free" means first and foremost free access to more than one point of view in the pursuit of knowledge. The classroom should not be a political party. There are opinions, there are facts, and there are opinions that are sometimes presented as facts.
We encourage BC students to question everything. We encourage BC professors to respect the fact that we, the students, may legitimately agree or disagree with them, and that our views are valid. It's about freedom of speech. It's about Academic Freedom. And I know you all agree.
Now that this semester is about to end, it's time to look back at what we had achieved so far:
BC's Center for Diversity agreed, per our request, to include intellectual diversity as part of the center's mission. Our new website has been visited more than two hundred times in just over a week. In March, we had a successful event with guest speaker Professor KC Johnson. We meet, we write, we advertise, we grow. Our mailing list expands on a daily basis as we reach more and more students. We constantly work with the BC student government and we're in touch with the school's administration, promoting our goals which will benefit all students at Brooklyn College.
The response is incredibly encouraging. But this is only the beginning. We're planning to bring more great news soon, and we have a lot planned for the near future. At this point, I'd like to thank all of you who receive our e-mails, who visit our website, who listen to us, write to us, and constantly support us. Those of you who wish to learn more about Students for Academic Freedom, please visit us at http://students.brooklyn.cuny.edu/saf or write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Eldad Yaron is the President of Brooklyn College Students for Academic Freedom.