Bates College Students Endorse ABOR · 14 June 2005

Filed under: Maine

By Nathaniel Walton--06/12/05

Dear Bates Faculty/Administrators:

I am the sponsor of RA 05-36, the resolution endorsing the principles of Students for Academic Freedom's Academic Bill of Rights, which was passed unanimously by the Representative Assembly at its May 23 meeting.I am writing to inform Bates faculty and administrators my intentions in submitting this legislation. The purpose of the resolution was not to cast doubt on you as professionals nor to impugn your integrity in any way. Its purpose was to show that student leaders at Bates, as a renowned institution whose history is rooted in the principles of egalitarianism, feel that the college should adhere to the highest standards of ideological tolerance.

Some feel that this is already the case on campus and that this resolution is unnecessary. I agree that ideological imbalance is not as large a problem at Bates as it is at other colleges/universties; however, if the College is the haven of ideological tolerance that some argue it is, then the passage of this non-binding resolution should only serve to encourage the continuation of such a tolerant environment.

Recent news coverage of the Bates Academic Bill of Rights has inaccurately implied that RA 05-36 was passed by a small and unrepresentative group of student leaders. This is simply not the case. The Representative Assembly has 57 available seats that were elected in September. Certain members decided not to attend meetings over the course of the academic year and once they missed two or more meetings, they were removed from office. Unfortunately, reelecting students to these seats was not made a high priority by the RA leadership and overall membership of the body eventually settled near 25 by the winter semester. RA Chair Christopher Laconi decided that it might be beneficial to convene during Short Term, and, as a result, the total membership was reduced to 15. However, the level of commitment during those four Short Term meetings was much higher than during the fall and winter semesters, as was the diverstiy of the members who attended.There were 14 out of 15 RA members (93%) at the May 23 meeting - most meetings during the winter semester had 15 out of 25. This being the case, I feel strongly that RA 05-36 was debated and approved by a committed and representative group of student leaders. I respectfully request that efforts to discredit the legislation based on uninformed remarks to the contrary by Bates administrators and faculty stop now.

I encourage you to Email me with any questions/comments regarding any of this. I hope you all have a wonderful summer.


Nathaniel Walton '08