Bill Seeks to stop Political 'Bias' at BSU · 24 January 2005

The Star Press

An academic bill of rights would be required at public universities if the bill is enacted.

MUNCIE - State Rep. Luke Messer, R-Shelbyville, has introduced a bill to address complaints that students at Ball State and Purdue universities are being indoctrinated with socialist and terrorist ideologies.

Messer, executive director of the Indiana Republican Party, authored the bill at the request of David Horowitz, a Los Angeles-based conservative advocate who has been examining liberal bias on college campuses.

The bill would require boards of trustees at Indiana's public colleges and universities to implement an academic bill of rights to guide grading, teaching, selection of public speakers, and faculty hiring.

"Purdue students are very bright and capable men and women," said Joseph Bennett, vice president for university relations. "I think many of them would be amused at the idea that they need Mr. Horowitz ... to protect them."

The peace studies program at Purdue is directed by Professor Harry Targ, a communist who is squarely on the side of the enemies of American "imperialism" in the current war on terror, Horowitz claims.

Professor George Wolfe, director of the peace studies program at Ball State, also teaches students to identify with America's terrorist enemies and to identify America as a Great Satan, Horowitz charged.

Nickel and Dimed, a book that all incoming freshmen at Ball State were asked to read in 2003, was written by Barbara Ehrenreich, a director of Democratic Socialists of America, Horowitz noted.

And Last year's freshman reader at Ball State was Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the American Meal, Horowitz said.

He has no objection to "radical, leftist views" being presented to students. The problem is that only one side is being presented, he said. "They should show two sides or three sides or even five sides," Horowitz said.

He asked Messer to introduce an academic bill of rights after Ball State Provost Beverley Pitts defended Wolfe against a complaint lodged by student Brett Mock without interviewing Mock.

"The way they treated this kid and (student) Amanda Carpenter is very bad," Horowitz said. "The bad thing is the bureaucracy is digging in their heels, circling the wagons and trying to cover this up."

Professor Wolfe has called Horowitz's allegations that he hates America and supports terrorism "shameful" and "absurd."

Bennett, the spokesman for Purdue, called Horowitz's allegations against Professor Targ "political commentary that misrepresents" the peace studies program.

The Star Press has been unable to reach Rep. Messer.

Joe Losco, chairman of the political science department at Ball State and a member of the national council of the American Association of University Professors, called some parts of Horowitz's academic bill of rights "dangerous," some parts "irrelevant," and other parts "vague."

"I don't know what he's up to," Losco said of Horowitz. "He was a radical leftist in the 1960s. Now he seems to be just the opposite - radically to the right."

Horowitz himself is a former Communist who founded the New Left and once supported the Black Panthers.

"Overseeing the curriculum is not something that I think most boards of trustees want to do, nor do I think it's necessary," Losco said.

Existing written policies at Ball State already protect students and faculty against political, religious and other biases, Losco said.

"If these protections were already in place, then Brett Mock would not have had to come to me with his complaint," Horowitz said. "So what kind of protection does he have?"

University officials say Mock never filed a complaint with the university.

Contact news reporter Seth Slabaugh at 213-5834.

Academic bill of rights

House Bill 1531, introduced by

Rep. Luke Messer, R-Shelbyville, would require

public university trustees to develop academic guidelines

based on the following:

  • Students should be graded solely on answers and knowledge, not on their political or religious beliefs.
  • Curricula and reading should respect the uncertainty of human knowledge and provide dissenting viewpoints. A diversity of approaches to unsettled questions should be welcomed.
  • Faculty shall not use their courses for the purpose of political, ideological, religious, or anti-religious indoctrination.
  • The selection of speakers must promote intellectual pluralism and observe academic freedom.
  • An environment conducive to the civil exchange of ideas is essential, and obstruction of speakers or destruction of campus literature shall not be tolerated.
  • All faculty shall be hired, fired, promoted and considered for tenure on the basis of competence and knowledge, and in the humanities, social sciences and the arts with a view toward fostering a plurality of methodologies and perspectives.
  • Academic institutions and professional societies shall maintain a posture of organizational neutrality with respect to substantive disagreements that divide researchers.