I was reading a fisking of a liberal columnist, and I thought about finding out how the other side thinks. When I first started reading blogs, one I read every day was AlterNet. I decided to return to the site, and see what they were talking about.

The headline "What’s Really Behind the ‘Student Bill of Rights’?" caught my eye.
The latest attempt to return to the time of red-baiting is called -- ironically -- the "Student Bill of Rights." Despite its fine, democratic ring, the phrase is being used to restrict teachers from introducing controversial or provocative ideas into their classrooms.

Actually, that's a strong mis-statement about the intent and meaning of the Academic Bill of Rights. If you doubt it, try reading the entire text - it's relatively short.

The Bill of Rights is designed to INCREASE freedom of speech, not surpress it. In my experience, many professors have little restraint in their liberal expressions of political belief. But, many students self-edit their opinions, both for fear of a lowered grade, as well as disinclination to receive abuse for non-PC thought.

The article uses the example of Santa Rosa College.
Evidence to support charges of biased teaching seemed just as scarce. In a forum on the controversy, student trustee Nick Caston pointed out, "I have been on the Board of Review (the last step of the grievance process) for three years and have never heard a complaint about bias in the class room."

"I've never even talked with any of the students who were involved in this," says red-tagged professor Marty Bennett. "But I do teach a lot of labor history in my social sciences classes, and I'm identified in the community as someone involved in the labor movement. That's probably why I was chosen."

From the Rate My Professor site:
  • Carol Alen - Political Science
    She is very opinionated, and has no problem telling someone that they are flat out wrong, even if it is a matter of opinion. There are only three test the whole semester and a editorial thing, so it make it hard to get a good grade. Doesn't review for the test at all, and lectures by flipping through the book page by page. It's all participation.

    Only has three tests and a debate over a current event. Way to opionated no science to this class all opinion, it helps to be a democrate. Class is boring and not completely factual statistics are thrown out into the class discussion with no back up info such as where they came from.

  • Jeanette Benfarhat - Political Science
    .The problem with this class is that you get into discussions that are based on the current affairs and not coving the text material.

Professor Bennett's ratings and comments are generally positive, but I am questioning just why he focuses on labor history so much in a Women's Studies class. His political opinions are apparently no secret, as one student writes that "He is also on the Santa Rosa Coalition for a Living Wage."

Frankly, the ease of having students post their evaluations on the web is so well known, I wonder why they still use paper and pencil evaluations in most schools. It seems simpler and more useful to put it all on the web. Perhaps that's the problem.

Another useful site for students to express their unhappiness with the level of indoctrination in class is No Indoctrination. The form is longer, and requires specific information. I filled it out on a professor of mine (revenge is sweet), and they even asked for more clarifying information by email.


Beware of anyone who uses the phrase: "red-baiting." They have either shilled for communists or are ignorant of history.

A very good post; I hope that the bill passes.
Anonymous said…
I'm not so sure about this one. lists about 166 entries from 2002 to present -- That's their whole database. Even if the actual number of complaints is more like ten or even twenty times that number, we're talking about bigger government involvement for what is clearly a really small problem. I really don't like the sound of that.

Most universities and colleges have really pretty fair review policies and procedures to deal with these issues internally. This is a non-issue, folks, and one that's going to create more government oversight. I hate the idea of legislators wasting energy on this kind of thing...

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