An Academic Bill of Rights Passes the US House Education and Workforce Committee · 27 July 2005

July 28, 2005

An Academic Bill of Rights Passes the US House Education and Workforce Committee

The academic freedom movement took a significant step forward last week when the US House Education and Workforce Committee passed HR 609, the Higher Education Re-Authorization Act, which contains a provision for an academic bill of rights.

The academic freedom provisions in HR 609 were inspired by the Academic Bill of Rights. (The Academic Bill of Rights and a list of national and state legislation currently under consideration is available on the organization's website at http://studentsforacademicfreedom.org.) These provisions state in part that, "an institution of higher education should ensure that a student attending such institution on a full- or part-time basis is evaluated solely on the basis of their reasoned answers and knowledge of the subjects and disciplines they study and without regard to their political, ideological, or religious beliefs" and that students should be exposed to "diverse approaches and dissenting sources and viewpoints within the instructional setting."

Additional support for the academic freedom language in HR 609 was provided last month when the American Council on Education in conjunction with 27 additional higher education organizations released a statement calling for universities to take steps to protect "intellectual pluralism and the free exchange of ideas."

Commenting on the passage of the bill through Committee last week, Horowitz said, "I want to thank the leadership of Congressmen John Boehner, Howard "Buck" McKeon and Jack Kingston. Even though the Democratic members of the Committee put up a determined fight to remove the language from the Higher Education Re-Authorization Act, the supporters of freedom and free speech held firm and in doing so scored a significant victory for every college student in America."

Horowitz added, "This is sending a clear message professors and administrators across the country that it is no longer acceptable to discriminate against students for their political and personal beliefs."

The Higher Education Re-Authorization Act is expected to be taken up by the full House before the summer recess. A companion bill will begin moving through the Senate soon.

For more information, please contact Elizabeth Ruiz at 800-752-6562, extension 202 or at Elizabeth@cspc.org.