Colorado Academic Showdown · 01 September 2004

Filed under: Press Coverage

By John J. Sanko
Rocky Mountain News | September 2, 2004

Senate President John Andrews doesn't like what he has heard recently about the way conservative Republicans have been treated in some classrooms.

The Republican lawmaker announced that the presidents of four universities have been invited to appear before a legislative committee on Sept. 9 to explain what they're doing about it.

The announcement provoked Democratic Sen. Ron Tupa, of Boulder, to say it sounded similar to complaints he heard last year.

They came after Andrews and other Republicans met with David Horowitz, a Los Angeles conservative activist pushing for an "Academic Bill of Rights."

"It sounds like just more witch-hunting by right-wing Republicans," Tupa said when he heard of Andrews' announcement.

But Andrews said his request stemmed from a memorandum of understanding that the four presidents signed earlier this year calling for respect for diverse political opinions on campus. Lawmakers passed a resolution unanimously praising them for it.

"Some follow-up is timely as the new school year begins," Andrews said.

"Just this month, we've heard about a Marxist instructor at Colorado State University berating a young woman veteran, a law professor at Colorado University saying Republican students are racists and Nazis, and a Metro faculty member telling her class that conservatives can't think.

"Such incidents may be unavoidable, but legislators will want to know how the universities are handling them."

Tupa, whose Senate district includes the University of Colorado in Boulder, said he would "rather the legislature spend time on more pressing issues, like solving the state's budget crisis.

"But if the hearing will stop further (inquiries), then I guess it's an exercise we have to go through."

Leaders invited to testify are CU President Elizabeth Hoffman; Colorado State University President Larry Penley; University of Northern Colorado President Kay Norton; and Metropolitan State College Interim President Ray Kieft.

John J. Sanko writes for the Rocky Mountain News.