Maine Republican Party Praises Academic Bill of Rights · 01 December 2005

Filed under: Maine, Press Coverage

By Dan Schuberth--Maine Republican Party Vice Chairman--12/01/05

To Whom it May Concern:

I am proud to write to you today in support of the Academic Bill of Rights, a critical policy initiative designed for the benefit of all students on Maine's college campuses. While our colleges here in Maine have conquered impediments to diversity in regard to race, religion, gender and sexual orientation, serious impediments still exist in regard to students' abilities to express their ideological viewpoints both inside and outside of the classroom without fear of negative consequences.

In March of 2005, I led a group of twelve students to Augusta to testify on behalf of LD 1194: A Bill to Create an Academic Bill of Rights for Maine's College Campuses. The other students and I shared our personal experiences of discrimination and outright bias that occurred during our time on campus, and provided strong arguments for why the bill would be helpful in protecting other students from experiencing similar forms in injustice in the future.

The Academic Bill of Rights is simply an affirmation of the basic principles of academic and intellectual fairness that most colleges claim to be fundamental. It calls upon educators to grade students based upon their "reasoned answers and appropriate knowledge of the subjects", not the "correctness" of their ideological viewpoints on the subject matter. It requires that the "freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and freedom of conscious of students and student organizations" cannot be infringed upon by campus administrations that do not agree with a particular point of view being advocated by a student or student organization. Finally, the Academic Bill of Rights will ensure that funding for student organizations is based solely on an organization's activism and adherence to campus guidelines, not the issues or ideology it advances.

While there are some that would argue that we do not have a problem on Maine's college campuses, and that the remedies I outlined are unnecessary, I contend that this is simply not the case. To allege that there is not a serious problem does an injustice to those that were brave enough to share their personal experiences at the Augusta hearings, and the many more that suffer in silence. Even one student who experiences discrimination based upon his or her personal convictions is one student too many.

We have a unique opportunity to address this issue head on with the remedies outlined in the Academic Bill of Rights. I urge you to affirm your commitment to ideological diversity, the free exchange of ideas, and the basic principle of fairness by adopting the Academic Bill of Rights.

Respectfully Submitted,

Dan Schuberth
Maine Republican Party Vice Chairman
Bowdoin Class of 2006