22 Universities Join David Horowitz's Academic Freedom Effort · 22 June 2005

Filed under: Press Coverage

22 Organizations Join David Horowitz's Academic Freedom Effort

By Newsmax.com--06/23/05

In a statement released this morning, David Horowitz, the author of the Academic Bill of Rights which is the model for pending legislation in more than a dozen states, including Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania, hailed the new initiative as a "major concession" by university authorities in his ongoing campaign for academic freedom:

"This is an important official step in recognizing that serious problems of political exclusion and political harassment exist on our college campuses, and an even more important step in moving towards a non-partisan solution that will protect the university as an institution. Specifically he welcomed:

the American Council on Education's endorsement of "academic freedom and intellectual pluralism" as "central principles of American higher education." These are the principles embodied in the Academic Bill of Rights.

the American Council on Education's statement that "colleges and universities should welcome intellectual pluralism and the free exchange of ideas," and that all intellectual discussions in a university setting "should be held in an environment characterized by openness, tolerance and civility."

the American Council on Education's statement that there should be no political discrimination against professors or students and thus that they should "not be disadvantaged on the basis of their political opinions."

the American Council on Education's statement that "any member of the campus community who believes that he or she has been treated unfairly on academic matters must have access to a clear institutional process by which his or her grievance can be addressed."
Horowitz commented: "The statement by the American Council on Education and 22 university and academic associations is, we hope, the beginning of a concerted effort by university administrators and faculties to put their houses in order. We applaud these endorsements of intellectual pluralism and fairness, especially because they come from the university community.

"It was never our intention in launching the Academic Bill of Rights to impose legislative solutions on universities and university faculties. It was always our desire that legislative attention would prompt the university community to do the right thing and to honor the principles of academic freedom to which their institutions are already committed.

"We have been as good as our word on this point. In Colorado, in 2004, when university presidents asked the legislative sponsors of the Academic Bill of Rights to withdraw our legislation if they would adopt the Academic Bill of Rights as university policy, our legislators, led by the bill's sponsor Rep. Shawn Mitchell agreed. A "Memorandum of Understanding" was drawn up, signed by the administrators and endorsed by both Colorado houses."

On the issue of implementation, Horowitz said: "We will be watching for the swift implementation of the principles endorsed in the American Council on Education statement as an earnest of good faith.

On the issue of further steps, Horowitz said: "We would like to see the points in this statement that apply to students, in particular, be codified as student rights; we would like to see university administrators take active steps regarding existing abuses which have been documented by Students for Academic Freedom and other campus groups.

"Last fall, for example, the partisan propaganda film Farentheit 9/11 was shown on the eve of the presidential election in a civil engineering class at Columbia University. At Skidmore College a psychology professor publicly referred to Skidmore College Republicans as "America's future Nazis."

"At the University of Colorado a criminology professor has given a widely publicized exam requiring students to provide specific answers to controversial questions on gay marriage and the war in Iraq in a manner that reflects his personal prejudices rather than the students' own judgment based on the evidence.

"These are all forms of political discrimination that we would like university authorities to look into and remedy.

Additional matters: "There are other matters dealt with in the Academic Bill of Rights, including the equitable distribution of student activities fees, which are not addressed in the American Council on Education statement. However, we are so encouraged by the good faith effort of the Council and the comprehensive embrace of the principles of academic freedom and intellectual pluralism that we look forward to working with the Council on a solution to these issues as well.

"Once the principles of intellectual pluralism and academic fairness are established these issues can be resolved in a matter satisfactory to all."