Response to the Centre Daily Times: Action Shows Lack of Confidence in Faculty · 07 August 2005

Professor James Eisenstein's recent comments on the Academic Bill of Rights resolution recently passed by the Pennsylvania legislature (Action Shows a Lack of Confidence in Faculty, 08/08) blatantly mischaracterize the motivations and effects of this legislation.

Eisenstein claims that "the radical right-wing agenda behind [the legislation] is obvious" but offers no evidence that HR 177 represents anything that could be called "radical" or "right-wing" and does not quote a single sentence or provision from HR 177 which is stringently non-partisan in its language and intent.

Professor Eisenstein veers into absurdity and paranoia when he suggests that the bill would "require faculty to turn over all papers, exams, quizzes and comments" to legislators and would force economics professors to "give equal time to the operations of socialist economies."

Penn State's existing policy on academic freedom holds that "No faculty member may claim as a right the privilege of discussing in the classroom controversial topics outside his/her own field of study. The faculty member is normally bound not to take advantage of his/her position by introducing into the classroom provocative discussions of irrelevant subjects not within the field of his/her study." Until the university's administrators are willing to enforce their own policies on academic freedom the legislature has an obligation to act to ensure that Pennsylvania's public universities are not trampling the rights of their students. I think Pennsylvania's taxpayers and parents will probably agree.


Sara Dogan
National Campus Director
Students for Academic Freedom