Response: This Bill Ain't Right · 12 April 2005

To the Editor:

As the National Campus Director of Students for Academic Freedom, the organization responsible for the Academic Bill of Rights which inspired North Carolina Senate Bill 1139, I wish to respond to the many mischaracterizations of the Bill in your paper's recent editorial ( This Bill Ain't Right , 04/01).

Your editorial alleges that our bill would "take educators' ability to decide the content of their courses and…put it in the hands of bureaucrats" and that it "seeks to create an artificial balance that cannot be obtained."

These charges are absurd. The concept of "balance" is nowhere to be found in either the North Carolina bill or our Academic Bill of Rights. What the bill actually says is: "Faculty and instructors shall be free to pursue and discuss their own findings and perspectives in presenting their views, but they shall make their students aware of serious scholarly viewpoints other than their own."

The concept being enforced here is not that of "balance" but rather of intellectual diversity. It is the same concept that just this past January was invoked by the American Historical Association which in its revised Statement on Standards of Professional Conduct declared "Students should be made aware of multiple causes and varying interpretations. Within the bounds of the historical topic being studied, the free expression of legitimate differences of opinion should always be a goal" (emphasis added).

Far from imposing a legislative standard on UNC's educators, Senate Bill 1139 merely asks that the university reaffirm and enforce the existing standards of the academic profession which have all too often fallen by the wayside.

Sara Dogan
National Campus Director
Students for Academic Freedom