My Visit to Brandeis · 02 April 2004

By David

Readers of the New York Times article posted in today's issue of will appreciate that this is a milestone in the efforts of the academic freedom movement to reform higher education and restore the integrity of the educational mission to our institutions of higher learning. We have changed the original title ("Taking Liberalism Out of Liberal Arts") because we thought it was misleading. This is a problem of our political lexicon created by the left's successful determination to hide its totalitarian agendas and history behind the term "liberal." Actually, the purpose of the academic freedom movement is to restore liberal values -- tolerance, inclusion, fairness -- to academic institutions where leftists posing as liberals have created an environment that is intolerant, exclusionary and anything but fair.

How so? Last week I was in the Boston area to speak at three liberal colleges, including Brandeis. My speech at Brandeis was scheduled for Tuesday as a climax to Conservative Coming Out Week, an event organized by the College Republicans to show the family flag as it were. College Repubicans at Brandeis are routinely harassed by professors, administrators and students. One out of control academic Gordie Fellman, a sixties radical who never grew up, is the organizer of the Faculty Coalition Against the War. Bad enough to have a professor setting an example of how not to be scholarly or professional. Worse that when conservative students (there appears to be only one conservative professor -- and he is not about to demonstrate) organized a counter-protest in favor of the war, Fellman went over to them and called them "freaks." Fellman is known for making "personal evolution" -- a third of a student's grade. What Fellman seems to mean by this is that students who take his course are expected to evolve into good progressives.

As noted, I was to speak on Tuesday. On Thursday, the administrators in charge of events told my hosts that they could not hold my speech in the "Atrium" as scheduled. The reason given was that the Atrium was an open space and students passing by might be "offended" by what I said. This is a school that rolled out the red carpet for Angela Davis, a lifelong Communist who once received a Lenin Prize from the East German police state. This is a school that boasts about the presence of Dessima Williams on its faculty. Williams is a former member of the Communist dictatorship in Granada, who has not had second thoughts about her politics. The regime came to an end when her political comrade, Bernard Coard who was Minister of Defense, murdered half the cabinet including the pregnant Minister of Education in a coup d'etat. Coard was subsequently removed by the U.S. Marines.

And of course this is a university which appears to think it's ok to have a professor call his students "freaks" because they disagree with him about the war in Iraq. (It is also, by the way, a university at which a speech to be given by former UN ambassador Jeanne Kirkpatrick was canceled by the university itself which said it couldn't guarantee her safety.

The events administrators at Brandeis wanted to shift my speech to a classroom with twenty seats. The College Republicans resisted and it was eventually held in a theater that was closed so that students passing by wouldn't be offended.

However, prior to the speech professors in three classes, including a Spanish class that devoted a full ten minutes to the subject, warned students not to attend my talk because I was a bad person and would say bad things.

Conservative students at Brandeis and virtually all the other schools I have visited are treated as second class citizens. It is this situation that Students for Academic Freedom was designed to address. We have organized Students for Academic Freedom clubs on 133 campuses and that is just since September. Our website at has been visited 125,000 unique individuals since September as well. We have passed legislation on the Academic Bill of Rights in Georgia and gotten the university system in Colorado to agree to put its protections in place. We have legislation proceeding in 7 other states and the US House of Representatives. And we have made a big enough impact to come to the attention of the Chronicle of Higher Education and the New York Times.

While the Times story is refreshingly fair, it understates the progress we have made. The fact is that the Brown Administration has publicly embraced the inclusion of "intellectual diversity" in its diversity mandate. It has also made good on its promise by providing money to Brown's College Republicans to bring a conservative speaker to campus after the leftwing student activities board denied the requested funds. I spoke to top administrators at three schools and the Chancellor of Higher Education for Massachusetts while I was in Boston and all agreed to consider including "intellectual diversity" in their diversity programs. When you think about it, it's pretty difficult for anyone committed to diversity to say no to this request.

My final quibble with the Times story is that it fails to mention that I have answered the Orwellian attack on the Academic Bill of Rights by the American Association of University Professors. You can read my response on our academic freedom website here along with the AAUP statement. The AAUP has posted its own comments but consistent with its leftwing politics has failed to post my response.