Victory at Cal State-Long Beach · 03 February 2005

Filed under: Press Coverage

By Marissa

It is the start of a new semester at California State University-Long Beach, and the victories from the battles fought last semester in the name of Academic Freedom are finally becoming evident. Thanks to Students for Academic Freedom and FrontPage Magazine, one professor is no longer forcing his students to imitate his far-Left views -- or fail.

Last semester I was enrolled in English 100, Dr. Clifton Snider's composition class, to fulfill my "General Education" requirement courses. (These are courses the university deems mandatory for every student to take in order to graduate.) When Dr. Snider handed out his course syllabus in the first class, I quickly thumbed through it, trying to find out basic information about the class. Instead, I found a document that seemed more relevant to a Political Science class.

The first paragraph of the syllabus states that the professor's goal for the course was to "promote tolerance and open-mindedness" through "the open discussion of controversial issues." However, instead of any attempt to be "open-minded," the syllabus was entirely stacked in favor of Dr. Snider's leftist ideologies.

Perhaps the most shocking segments of Dr. Snider's syllabus can be found under the "argument topics" section. The purpose of the argument paper is "to persuade or to at least create tolerance for your point of view on a controversial issue." The following are a few examples of the "suggested" topics that Dr. Snider has listed to help us out:

  • "Should Justice Sandra Day O'Connor be impeached for her partisan political actions in the Bush v. Gore case?
  • " It is no secret that the Bush administration and many Republicans have taken steps to undo the progress in environmental protection made before they took office. Now that they control the presidency and the Congress, they have better opportunities to carry out their agenda. Narrow this topic to a particular issue that you can argue in your paper (e.g. oil drilling in Alaska, building roads on formerly protected Federal lands, and logging)
  • "Breaking a campaign promise, Bush has reversed rules to limit industrial carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere
  • "Civil Liberties: The Bush administration has used the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 to erode the civil rights of citizens and non-citizens alike; for example, it got Congress to pass the so-called "Patriot Act," which allows the government "to seize the records of bookstores and libraries to find out what people have been reading" Personal computers can also be seized by the federal government. What can be done to stop this erosion of liberties or can you logically defend it?
  • "What evidence do we have that Mr. Bush and his cronies lied to the American people and the world in promoting the war with Iraq? Do you agree that America has lost its "moral authority" in the world because of this immoral war?
  • "Energy: (nuclear, solar, fossil, synthetic fuels, etc.). A related topic is Dick Cheney's secret conference on energy policy. Why hasn't the administration revealed who participated and should it reveal this information? Also important is the fact that, as Kevin Phillips writes, "four generations of the [Bush] dynasty have chased [oil] profits through cozy ties with Mideast leaders, spinning webs of conflicts of interest"
  • "Birth Control: Should the so-called "morning-after" contraceptive pills (pills that prevent fertilized eggs from implantation) be more readily available to all, whether they can afford them or not and regardless of age? (You cannot argue that such pills amount to an abortion.)"

Along with his list of "suggested topics," Dr. Snider also included a list of topics that he forbade his students to write about because they are "topics on which there is, in my opinion, no other side apart from chauvinistic, religious, or bigoted opinions and pseudo-science." I was absolutely outraged when I read the "topics to avoid." This list includes: Abortion, religion, same sex marriage, and prayer in public schools. These are all issues that have two reasonable points of view, yet this professor's bigotry suppressed every view but his own. That's hardly "open discussion."

I was spurred by his list and transparent intellectual discrimination to take action. Initially, I was unsure that anything I did would make a difference and justifiably worried that my attempts to expose Dr. Snider would backfire. I I feared I would have nothing to show for it but a failing grade. However, after submitting a complaint to Students for Academic Freedom, I unknowingly started a ball rolling that would eventually frustrate Dr. Snider's desire to politicize his classroom. I told my story on, and the rest is history. My story immediately garnered attention from columnist Mike Adams and FOX News, which aired the academic abuses of Dr. Snider nationwide. Excerpts from Dr. Snider's class syllabus became known nationwide. Dr. Snider became the topic of discussion on numerous radio talk shows and internet forums that reached numerous citizens who otherwise would never have known the extent of academic bias on college campuses today.

The wave of negative publicity that followed forced Dr. Snider to change. He eventually made public several of his extremist statements (such as comparing President Bush to Saddam Hussein) and also removed blatantly political material -- not just from his syllabus -- but from his university website. Future students will no longer be subject to Dr. Snider's venomous attacks or subjected to his far-Left views, much less will they have to parrot them to graduate a required university course. Perhaps for the first time in Dr. Snider's career, his students will actually receive an education instead of an indoctrination.

The lesson learned from this situation is: Always stand up for what you think is right, and don't be afraid to fight for it! Stand up against professors who force their views upon their students and demand their students, in violation of their own conscience, endorse left-wing orthodoxy. With the strength of an organization like Students for Academic Freedom and a media outlet like FrontPage Magazine in your corner, cowardly professors like Dr. Snider don't stand a chance.
Marissa Freimanis is a student at California State University Long Beach.