Friday, April 7, 2006, 9:30 a.m.
First National Academic Freedom Conference
Chair: Ron Robinson
Participants: Mason Harrison, Marlene Kowal, Ruth Malhotra, Steve Miller, Brett Mock, Daniel Schuberth, Nate Walton
RON ROBINSON: Good morning. My name is Ron Robinson. I’m President of Young America’s Foundation. I have the privilege this morning of moderating this panel, which is something I was very much looking forward to.
I have to say that I was looking forward to this whole conference, working with David Horowitz. I want to compliment David not only for this particular conference but for all that he has done — the books that he’s written, the insight that he has offered. Over a period of years, it’s been — I’ve learned a lot working with David. I think most of the people that come to Young America’s Foundation, while they may have dabbled a little bit in liberal thought, I think you can become today on high school and college campuses a liberal by osmosis. Few have gone as deep into that particular ideology as David had, and so David brings to the table some fresh approaches that otherwise wouldn’t be available. I know there are times he struggles in trying to figure out why the conservative movement as a whole does certain things and takes certain approaches, and I would have to caution David that that’s true even among those of us that have operated there from our very first days, or our very earliest days.
But I mentioned David, in part, to thank him for the work he has done but also to underscore that we can learn ideas and insights even from those who don’t share, at least immediately or even ultimately, the same place that we do on the ideological spectrum.
And one of the individuals who I’m not normally noted for quoting but I did find had a particularly strong or insightful sentence anyway was Sidney Blumenthal because Blumenthal criticized the conservative movement basically as operating in a self-imposed intellectual ghetto. And I think he captured, in essence, a weakness that the conservative movement has, which is not reaching out for the broadest possible audience, not constantly recalibrating its message to say, are we looking to bring in the widest possible audience? Are we looking to frame the issues in a way that will reach every student on a college campus?
And I think that David has done that with the Academic Bill of Rights, and I compliment him for doing that. And I think that there are a lot of important lessons to be learned by the work that David has done and also by the tremendous group of student leaders that he has accumulated here today. So as I said, I’ve looked forward to this for some time.
There is a disconnect in America today on the college campuses, and that is the tremendous gulf between where the students are today and where the university professors are.
It was no accident, I think, in last night’s debate at George Washington University that it was between a tenured college professor, who has chaired his department at the University of Colorado, versus a free-thinking non-leftist professor — I don’t know precisely how David would categorize his own viewpoints at this particular point, but it was not surprising that it was very easy to find a leftist professor to stand up and identify with almost any leftist position. To do that on the conservative side or on the right, whatever terminology you’re most comfortable with, is very difficult in the country today. And we see this split in many ways on our college campuses.
One good example is the ROTC issue at Columbia University. Going into last school year, there was a poll taking — professional poll, a scientific poll taken at Columbia of the college students, and over 60% wanted a return of ROTC on campus at Columbia. And, yet, at the very end of the school year, the faculty senate voted on it, and they voted 50 to 13 against allowing students at Columbia to attend ROTC.
We see it in Young America’s Foundation in the campus lecturers that crisscross this country. The audiences that these speakers pull — and I’m talking about speakers including Ann Coulter, John Stossel, Ben Stein, David Horowitz, John Ashcroft, Michelle Malkin, to use six prominent ones currently on the lecture circuit — the audiences they draw are tremendous in size. And it’s clear across the country students are very interested in hearing what these speakers have to say. And, yet, campus after campus, there is usually one or more, a combination, of leftist efforts to try to immunize or prevent students from hearing this message. It may include a teach-in that the faculty has before the speaker arrives or after the speaker leaves, usually distorting what the speaker has to say, oftentimes, trying to keep it under the radar so that those sponsoring the event aren’t participants at the teach-in in the first place. That’s often done by the faculty.
Administrators oftentimes will put administrative restrictions. Frequently, we, at Young America’s Foundation, teach about the dirty tricks college administrators use, oftentimes, changing the room at the very last minute where the activity is going to be held. Sometimes saying that your speaker is “controversial” and that we’re going to put basically a tax or a surcharge under a security argument. The left is causing the problems with security, not any of the conservative students. But the conservative organizations sponsoring the conservative speaker, which should’ve been brought by university in the first place, is — has a security tax imposed on them.
And then oftentimes, there are outright disruptions. Senator Alexander referenced four of them in the past year-and-a-half, but they range from being pied and being attacked physically to people pulling fire alarms, to shouting down speakers.
We just had Ann Coulter within the past two weeks at Loyola University in Chicago, and there were 50 disrupters there that had to be taken out, or approximately 50. Now, Floyd’s shaking his head yes here. I’m sure he was familiar with it. But they had to be taken out individually. This was not an effort to engage in intellectual dialog to any extent whatsoever. Everyone at that college would have had an opportunity to ask Ann Coulter any question they wanted and anyone had an opportunity before and after she left to express different viewpoints. It was merely an attempt to prevent those students from hearing firsthand what Ann Coulter had to say in her own words.
And so this, along with mandatory sensitivity training and along with speech codes, is not a cause that’s leading students to where they want to go. It’s an ideology that is afraid to defend its position. It’s an ideology that’s afraid to allow students to make up their own mind. To echo words that David said last night, it’s an ideology that’s trying to teach students what to think rather than how to think. And I think that that should give you great encouragement on the students that are coming along as compared to the faculties and the administrators on the campuses today.
At Young Americas Foundation, we ask the question constantly, how do you expect your fellow students to hear conservative ideas or to consider conservative ideas? And oftentimes, that has to be done through direct action. And this panel today is a great example of student leaders doing exactly that.
Senator Alexander, just a few moments ago, cited the study that on the cross-section of American campuses, 72% of the faculty identified themselves as liberal — those are the terms he used — and 15% as conservative. And he cited the Ivy League campuses as being more unbalanced, where the ratio was 80% versus 13%. And I think that if you actually looked at these college campuses, you will find that those — that 13% or that 15% oftentimes is concentrated in the hard sciences or in math, places that their particular ideas in terms of the debates that we’re having this weekend are actually often not even mentioned the whole semester long, and as David would’ve pointed out last night, rightly so.
But it’s shocking to me, even talking to conservative students, that they — and my own experience reflects this, having gone through four years undergraduate school, graduate school, and then actually four years at law school at night, that I very seldom, if ever, had a conservative text assigned to me. I went through those layers of education, as do most students today. My sons — I have three sons that have attended five colleges, and essentially, it’s reflected in all but one. One goes to Hillsdale. But they’ve never been assigned Nobel Laureates, like Milton Friedman, Fredrich Hayek, or Alexandr Solzhenitsyn. They’ve never been given the opportunity to, in their classroom, to delve into the great writings of Thomas Sowell, or Senator Alexander also mentioned Harvey Mansfield.
And so it’s important for us to look at what is going on on the college campuses, not just at the faculty level but by the students themselves, the consumers, if you will. Someone said — I think it was perhaps Ward Churchill last night — who said, if I can use that coarse term, I don’t think being a consumer is a coarse term. I think being a consumer is, in fact, the ideal term to use because these, in fact, are the people that keep the colleges going by attending there. Their parents may support that, but they, in fact, are the ones that are ultimately to be embraced as the ultimate receivers of the education at those schools. And schools are not there for the faculty members. They are not there for the administrators. Hopefully, they’re there for the students.
I began by saying the left has some insights. David, having abandoned his editorial position at Ramparts and shifting to elsewhere in the ideological spectrum, has had tremendous insights that I’ve enjoyed for a series of years and have tried to be a good student to David.
I mentioned Sydney Blumenthal, but I want to, before I introduce each panel member, wrap up by citing a February 13 cover issue of Nation magazine. From those colleagues of mine that are here from Young America’s Foundation, you’ve probably never heard me quote so many leftist sources in one morning, but forgive me for that. Maybe it’s being in David’s presence that I was motivated.
But here are some insights that the Nation offered two months ago in a cover story, and it’s — the cover story was the new face of the campus left, and basically, the nation was lamenting that conservative students, these conservative students, are out organizing those on the left.
I’m going to jump around a bit. I would commend the whole article to you, February 13, 2006, The Nation, but quoting a few passages —
“Today’s campus right is unified, on message, passionate. In other words, part of a genuine movement. Student conservatives have managed to balance organization and ideological discipline with rag-tag rebelliousness, positioning themselves as the perpetual underdogs on oppressively liberal campuses,” positioning yourselves.
Goes on to quote Matt Singer, a junior at the University of Montana, “The Conservative activism is fun, and it rings with students in the same way the left did in the 1960s and early 1970s.”
They quote a student from the University of Texas. “The right actually ends up looking cooler than the left.” I wasn’t surprised at that, but apparently, the Nation was.
A number of other points, but in their conclusion, they say, “The right has created a student movement not simply by providing the infrastructure but by promoting hardcore conservative ideology,” as they would put it, “on the college campuses.”
Well, I mentioned that because even the Nation recognizes the outstanding work that these students and other students across the country are doing despite the hostile environment to share with their fellow students ideas that no one should graduate from college without entertaining.
You know, both the Center for the Study of Popular Culture and the activities they do, reaching college students, and David Horowitz’s lectures across the country, this conference, Young America’s Foundation’s conferences, none of these should be held or need to be held.
If the colleges and universities were doing their jobs, everything we have to say would be superfluous. But, of course, they need to be held, and students need to be organized, and we need to learn from the insights of college students today.
And we have an outstanding panel. I’m going to introduce them going down, and they’re going to speak individually, but let me tell you who they are. There are more detailed write-ups in your program, but it is an outstanding collection of young men and young women who are standing up and have already taken leadership roles in their respective campuses.
Mason Harrison is at University of California at Davis. That should tell you a lot but is leader of the College Republicans there, and that is a very tough campus to be on, the college’s campus today.
Marlene Kowal is at Temple. She’s a senior there. She’s the CR leader, but she’s also the President of Students for Academic Freedom.
Ruth Malhotra — I’m sorry, Ruth — Ruth is a superstar for the conservative movement. I think every organization, Young America’s Foundation, ISI, the College Republicans, Students for Academic Freedom — all of us have benefited by Ruth’s great leadership, and we appreciate all that Ruth has done. She’s currently the Executive Director of the College Republicans in Georgia, and she’s at Georgia — she’s a senior at Georgia Institute of Technology.
Steve Miller has been one of the superstars that started working with David in his high school days at Santa Monica. I had an opportunity to be with Steve over the weekend and heard how David greatly influenced his life when he was at Santa Monica. But today he’s a junior at Duke University, where he’s the leader of the Students for Academic Freedom.
Brett Mock is at Ball State University. He’s graduated from there, but there, he learned really the ideological nature of the peace studies and is currently helping a Congressional candidate in Colorado.
Now, I really feel embarrassed in introducing Dan Schuberth this way because a year ago, I had the great pleasure of speaking to the Maine College Republicans, and I came back to the Foundation staff and said, “You’ve got to take a look at what Dan’s doing,” because he had a series of speakers, some rather dull, like myself, to some that were actually quite exciting, but he pumped up the audience before every single speaker with this very upbeat music. And I was ready to get up there and speak, and the audience was ready to listen, at least for a while, so I felt that if Dan — I ever had an opportunity to control an event even for a minute where Dan was going to speak, before he got to the microphone, I was going to arrange to play Hail to the Chief. But I’m not getting that opportunity today, Dan, but appreciate the great work that you have done in Maine. He’s currently the Vice Chairman of the Maine Republican Party, but prior to that, he was the Chairman of the College Republicans. He’s a leader at Bowden College, and we’re delighted to have him with us as well.
The final participant is in the air right now. We hope he will join us before this panel is over. Nate Walton is at Bates, so I assume he’s also coming in from Maine, and hopefully, he will join us in progress.
But it’s a great line-up of students. I know they have a lot to offer. We’ve asked them to keep the remarks to five to eight minutes, and we will begin with Mason.
MASON HARRISON: Thanks a lot, Ron, and first off, I just really want to thank David for having me out. David’s just been extremely supportive of our state federation in California, and we do a lot with academic freedom, and we couldn’t do without him, frankly. And, also, it’s a pleasure to be among this panel with other student leaders of academic freedom, and also to be on a panel with Ron Robinson, who does so much for Young America’s Foundation, who, in turn, just empowers the student to be able to combat liberalism at its campus and engage in Republican Party politics at such a young age. So, thank you, Ron. I really appreciate that introduction.
First off, I sort of want to give you a little background as to my story entering college. I entered college not very political, actually. One of the reasons is that I actually didn’t really know I was a conservative until I went to UC-Davis and saw how mainstream I was, especially at that campus.
I entered college at a time when we were going to the California recall, which were extremely tumultuous times in Republican Party politics in California, and it took the whole state by force, and literally the whole world was looking at us. And it was under a period when our state federation of California College Republicans was undergoing change.
Of course, I hadn’t been introduced yet when the recall had started, but I did enter in 2003 in the fall during the election season and really had no intention of getting involved until a couple of events, which I’ll share with you right now.
I took a class — was actually dared to by one of my female friends to take a women’s studies class. And normally I would never have signed for it, but there was $50 in it if I did. So I enrolled. And the first day, I went in and the professor, who was a woman, obviously, goes up to the front and begins her lecture not by introducing herself but by leading a chant, “No on Arnold, no on recall.” This lasted for about a minute, and I’d had enough. I left. Lost on the $50, but you know what? I think it was probably for the best.
My second class, I’d actually enrolled — this was not — this was by choice. I had enrolled in a class on counterterrorism. I was really interested in learning about terrorism and the War on Terror and was expecting to get a very balanced debate as to where America stood, where other countries stood, who were terrorists, what constitutes a terrorist, and terrorism in its current state today.
The professor started off his talk by talking about the number-one terrorist, and I’ll leave it up to you to kind of guess who that was. But just of close your mind and think about who would be listed as the number-one terrorist in a university talking about — in a class on terrorism. I’ll give you a clue. He was Middle Eastern, if that helps. Most of you are probably thinking Osama bin Laden, Al Zarqawi. No. The first terrorist that professor, that expert, on counterterrorism talked about was Jesus Christ. Still not sure how he did that because I also dropped that class.
By this point, I’d sort of had enough, and like I said, realized that I was a conservative on a liberal campus. I joined the California College Republicans, where every week, I joined dozens of other colleagues who felt the same way, and we did crazy stuff. You know, during the recall election, we went around. We had people signing petitions. We had people registering to vote. We had people, you know, energizing the youth movement for Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has revolutionized youth Republican politics in California, and it’s a privilege to be a part of his reelection campaign right now.
We actually staged a sit-in at the administration building at University of California-Davis and delivered a list of grievances to the administration, one of which was the fact that they had not brought a conservative speaker for an extremely long time when they had brought names like Clinton, Michael Moore, some of the other token liberals who speak at a lot of college campuses, to which they responded — or a lady sitting behind the desk told us frankly that they did, in fact, invite Republican speakers and did pay for Republican speakers, last one being Gerald R. Ford in 18 — or, sorry, 1982. I said, “It’s 2003!” And we still haven’t seen one in a long time.
So these things go on throughout California, as I’m sure you’ve heard. There are several cases that have come across national news, one of which was Steve Hinkle at Cal Poly, who was arrested and kicked out of school for inviting conservative author Mason Weaver to a school, who had recently authored a book called It’s Time to Leave the Plantation. He’s a black speaker. The school took offense to it, kicked him out of school. Steve Hinkle responded by suing the school, ended up winning. The school has yet to issue an apology, although they’ve been asked repeatedly by donors and by other students at the school.
This gained widespread attention, and Sean Hannity covered it a lot. And I think it was really one of the modern case studies that we have that reminds people that there is an academic freedom movement and there is something that we need to get behind.
Another one was a student from a school in Northern California who was told by a psychology professor that he needed to have his head examined because he was a conservative.
This was just one of several cases that I talk about when I go on the radio and I talk about academic freedom because, like David said, it is a winning issue. And it’s something that we use to garner financial support for our organization, to energize people, to energize fellow students into joining the cause — is the fact that we’re all entitled to an education that presents both sides. And we’re entitled to an education that takes politics out of the classroom.
So later that year, I was actually in charge of our statewide convention, and because we have off seasons with elections we decided to have an academic freedom themes conference. We called it Operation Academic Freedom. And this is when I first met David, and I called up David’s assistant, Brad Shipp, and Brad helped me organize a huge rally, which was actually the largest youth rally, Republican youth rally specifically, that the state capitol in California has seen in decades, I’m told, actually, since the ’30s. So it was a very, very impressive turnout, and we had conservative speakers come — David Horowitz being one of them — and we were really able to garner a lot of media attention for that issue, and I would consider that a big success for our organization.
We got crazy. We had a big cardboard tank where a student put a backpack on and stood in front of it, hoping to allude to Tiananmen Square. I mean you would’ve thought we were liberals by how crazy we were getting at this rally.
And I would say that I’m getting extremely excited about where this movement is headed because I think there’s a clear difference in the youth of the conservative movement versus the youth of the liberal movement and that, one, I think, taps into a segment of the population that is very angry, that is very dissatisfied with the country, that is very — that expresses hate towards America, and hate motivates these people.
But I think that our side, the conservative side, I think that it taps into a segment of the population that loves their country, that loves what they have, that want to hold on to it. And that’s where I think that we’ll win because I think the people see that, and it’s demonstrative of what our intentions really are.
And so I want to thank you again, David, for having me out here and also thank our other student panelists, and thank you very much for having me up here.
MARLENE KOWAL: Good morning, everyone. I want to thank David Horowitz, Ron Robinson for chairing the panel, and for being invited to discuss academic freedoms today.
Just recently, I read an article that quoted Pennsylvania State Representative Dan Frankel stating, “I’ve seen classes in colleges about Marxism, but I can’t imagine that there’s a class at Temple University indoctrinating students about Marxist ideology. I’d like to see evidence that all these classes are being taught — or any of these classes being taught in this manner.”
Well, in response to Mr. Frankel’s comment, I would like to take the next minute to quote to you some of the statements that happened in a class that I’m taking this semester that would prove quite the contrary.
On the first day of class, this professor had stated, “The only reason why Mao Zedong is given the bad reputation he has is because of the Bourgeoisie press and their racism towards the Chinese. I am a Maoist, and my intention in teaching this class is to teach you why Mao was an important figure and a great figure.”
On March 21, this professor also stated, “The only way to get rid of sweatshop labor is to boycott capitalism.”
It gets better. “During the Maoist period, China was the most equal country in the world, and after the post-Socialist turn, China is among the most unequal. The rural farmers are now the [indiscernible] despite the World Bank figures because those figures are just exactly untrue.”
Another day this professor did nothing but laugh when a student explained during class, “I hate white people.” The student rambled on and spoke about how the American government is purposely giving people AIDS. The professor did nothing to attempt to interrupt the student.
And although she didn’t have [indiscernible] problems with cutting students off who had an opposing viewpoint from hers, the professor also remained silent another day when a student during class time accused Teach for America to be an excuse to subvert criticism of what the states should be doing. “After all,” the student asks, “why fund the schools if there is volunteerism?” The professor responded with a head nod.
Bear in mind, this is the history class called Contemporary China.
There are also a number of professors who are teaching at Temple who conduct their classes in a very similar fashion. Of the 43 students we have registered at the Temple University Students for Academic Freedom Chapter, three of them joined, in part, because of the conduct in this class. Although there were a total of six students who privately expressed their grievances to me about the political biases in our class lectures, only three had actually joined this group. Only two filed complaints, one with SAF, Students for Academic Freedom, and one in a private letter to the department. That means actually only one-third of the students who even expressed their frustrations took action.
Intimidation and fear is what tends to be the reason for such underreporting and lack of activism. Even the student who had handed me the one complaint form made a specific request to remain anonymous for fear of repercussion.
One of the private comments that were made to me by one of the students who had not filed a report was that she had never encountered this problem in the classroom before this semester. I had this student as a classmate in the last class I had in the fall, where the Iraq war was explained by the professor to be a criminal event and [Chakoverra][ph] was plugged as being a role model. Once I brought this point up, the student, she replied, “Well, then I guess I never really realized it before.”
And this is our main problem. Students do not even realize that they are being indoctrinated. Another student who was listening in our conversation interjected, “The professors get to you when you are vulnerable, ignorant freshmen. They start all this junk when you’re right out of high school and you don’t know any better.”
Perhaps this is why the abuses to academic freedom go underreported, leading Pennsylvania Subcommittee Chairman on Higher Education Representative Lawrence Curry to believe that there isn’t a crisis on this campus. Nevertheless, I want to direct your attention to the two main speaking engagements at Temple University main campus last week.
On Wednesday night, Sarah Weddington, the attorney who successfully argued Roe versus Wade, was sponsored by the main campus program board.
Thursday night, the Temple University Pan-African Studies’ Community Education Department brought in Professor Griff of Public Enemy, and he spoke on behalf of [Mumia Abul Jamar][ph].
What I learned from attending the latter events is that the problem is not that these people have secured speaking engagements at the university. I strongly believe in the First Amendment and would never argue to selectively revoke this right from anyone. The problem is that the moderates and the conservatives are not successfully fighting through the bureaucratic loopholes to make sure these speakers are representing the fruits of our demographic.
Sadly to say to the campus today is that we must now jump through more hoops and fight a harder fight to get the speakers, professors, and programs that represent the moderate and conservative constituents in the university. We need to fight to keep that door to the universities that the conservatives opened to the liberals in the 1960s from being shut on us. In some instances, we might even have to pry it open again.
In the last three years I spent at Temple University, I have come by countless professors that have built in leftist interpretations to their course lectures. I have regularly encountered professors that have not — have been nonpartisan in their pursuit to facilitate a dialog in the broad range of serious intellectual perspectives.
We are the writers of our own history, and those who are not from the radical left cannot hide behind being a cliché as being the silent majority. If we remain silent, we will become the minority and further silence will only leave us a memory. Moderates, conservatives, Democrats, and Republicans, the radical left is dominating the universities. If we allow this trend to continue, they will indoctrinate our youth.
The last two examples I want to bring into discussion are the most pertinent to the discussion of Academic Bill of Rights.
History professor Ralph Young conducts a weekly “Dissent in America” teach-in. There’s [was a new] one in November called Speak Easy or Easy Speak — Higher education and the Politics in Pennsylvania. Yet, the speakers who were brought in were Lawrence Curry, Ellen Shrecker, and Joyce Lindorff. All were in denial of this issue and/or strongly opposed to the concept of protecting student rights.
Although there is clearly a problem on campus, no one who is in support of the bill has yet to present our side. No wonder why the students who have not found comfort in our student organization are not speaking up. No wonder why the administration is in denial of this problem, and no wonder why the professor is still being hired on the basis of their politics, teaching their classes as partisan politicians, and are getting away with it.
And, finally, no wonder why the supporters of the Academic Bill of Rights have been characterized into this anti-scholastic, angry, right-winged attempt to selectively eradicate liberal professors to stop free speech.
Most alarmingly, Megan Fitzgerald from the Center for Campus Free Speech, who does the Academic Bill of Rights as the Academic Bill of Restriction, made her way into a number of classrooms throughout the College of Liberal Arts. She had confirmed she had been in both Anderson and Glatfelter Halls.
She sent an e-mail out to all the professors asking them to invite her into the class lectures so she may give a speech plugging her organization’s goal of stopping the Academic Bill of Rights that would hold the universities accountable to promote intellectual fairness, inclusion of all aspects in the curriculum, and including the faculty hiring process, inspections of courses available, and the reading materials assigned. There was no real attempt for a dialog regarding this issue.
When professors hold faculty conferences or teach-ins of one side unchallengeable, partisan or sectarian in nature, these are not academic exercises and are considered breaches of professional responsibility. This also goes for the use of departmental funds and faculty facilities for politically partisan or ideologically one-sided events.
Unfortunately, this has been routine at Temple University. And, yes, Karl Marx is given a colossal time and consideration in the classroom in comparison to the almost unmentionable Adam Smith, his counterpart in economic theory.
Students must be aware of a broad range of serious intellectual perspectives and not just the perspectives that correspond to the beliefs of their professors. Although the road to true intellectual diversity is and will be an uphill battle for some time, the future is not grim.
Currently, the Temple University chapter for Students for Academic Freedom is 43 members strong — a very, very liberal campus — and this is double the numbers that we had during our January hearing. Just two weeks ago, Logan Fisher, the Vice President organized the Support the Troops rally to dissent the English Department’s sponsored anti-war protest. Our rally made the five o’clock news because we outnumbered those who believed they had monopoly on this thought on campus.
Each day, our organization is growing stronger, and I’m in possession of at least 20 written complaints from this year.
Regarding an English class, one student wrote, “My professor used a class to spread her own Marxist socialist ideology. She often demonized President Bush and Republicans in general, calling capitalism evil.”
In an accounting class, the student reported, “The professor found a way to manipulate his political ideas into every lesson. Every day, he not only disrespected the President but also anyone in favor of conservative views or the Republican Party.”
An ESL student, English as a Second Language, reported having to read the controversial anti-American book, The Eagle’s Shadow, and stated she has gotten the impression that the professor has been taking advantage of the student’s poor linguistic skills to preach his politics from the vantage point he had as head of the classroom.
This is also not counting the private letters that have gone to the department chairs and the president of the university. I do have knowledge of three instances or such.
Student [indiscernible] who are in denial of this issue will be forced to see the real picture regarding the fate of the campus.
Thank you all for listening to my experiences with partisan teaching at Temple University and how academic freedom is relevant to the state of the campus in which I’m attending.
RUTH MALHOTRA: Thank you so much. I’m really excited to be here, and it’s so heartening to have a conference that’s exclusively dedicated to this issue of academic freedom and just to see so many people that recognize the fact that it is a priority, and so I’m really encouraged.
And I do have to apologize. I do come from Cynthia McKinney’s state, so we’re not too proud to claim her as our Congresswoman, but I’m also from Jack Kingston’s state, the Congressman from Georgia. I know he spoke yesterday, and he’s been leading this fight as well. And so we are proud to claim him and really encouraged to have leaders like him from where I’m from.
I was thinking about what to share with y’all today and just thinking back to my experiences over the past three years and this fight for academic freedom. And I was reflecting back to where my journey in this fight began. And in many ways, it really began the day I stepped on to campus as a college freshman at Georgia Tech even though I didn’t really realize it at the time.
But I entered college, you know, excited about the free exchange of ideas and expecting vigorous debate. I’ve always enjoyed talking about public policy and government and issues like that, and I was really excited about what I hoped would be an open environment, and I expected to have my ideas challenged. But what I didn’t expect was to have them run over.
And when I got to college from day one, I realized that the free exchange in the marketplace that we talk about simply didn’t exist on campus and that as a conservative student, the administration and professors in almost every facet of campus, I was not only stifled and not allowed to express myself, but I was also bombarded with a very unbalanced agenda from those in authority, and that’s something that I tried to fight from day one.
And I think where my passion for this issue and where it really started was I attended a Conservative Political Action Conference, CPAC, in 2004, and prior to attending that, on the first day of my public policy class, I enrolled in a required Foundations of Public Policy course.
And I told the professor, I said — I approached her and told her, “I’m going to miss one day of class to go to Washington, DC. Is there anything I need to do ahead of time?” And she said, “What are you going to Washington, D.C. for?” And I said, “The Conservative Political Action Conference.” And she said, “Well, you’re just going to fail my class.” And at that point, it was, you know, the first day of class lecture, and I didn’t take her seriously. I was a little bit — I was very confused and a little bit intimidated, but I said, well, maybe it’s a joke, you know, and moved on from there.
I did attend CPAC, and I actually heard Mr. Horowitz speak at a Young America’s Foundation luncheon. He was being honored that year. And so I told him what happened, and he said, “Well, keep in touch and let me know. Let me know how things progress.” And it turns out throughout the course of this class, it was a very hostile atmosphere. The professor repeatedly made statements, very derogatory statements about religion, about Christians and the religious right, and she would constantly refer to that. She would bring in race into almost every lecture.
And it turns out I did receive a failing grade in the course, and she did keep her promise and fail me, and we confronted it from there. I worked with Students for Academic Freedom, and Mr. Horowitz came down to Georgia Tech. We confronted these issues. We met with several deans and administrators and really tried to — really fought that very successfully, and this professor is now barred from teaching this public policy course again. So that was definitely some progress there.
Also, in that semester, in the spring of 2004, the Academic Bill of Rights was brought up in the Georgia Senate, and I had the opportunity to testify at the Senate hearing, along with David Horowitz and Jack Kingston and a couple of other people, and it was really encouraging. It really gave us a chance to share our personal situation and raise awareness of this bias that’s prevalent against so many conservatives.
And it was encouraging. The bill passed the Senate almost unanimously by a vote of 41 to 5, and even more encouraging is that this resolution generated immediate changes and really led to significant action, both at Georgia Tech and across the state. And so I’d really encourage all, as I know you’ve heard — you will hear this morning, to definitely pursue these avenues, both within and beyond the campus because it is very effective.
Just even in a few years’ time, I think the progress that we’ve seen has been incredible, and it’s very heartening, and just the fact that academic freedom is recognized as such an important issue, I think, is in and of itself a huge step in the right direction.
Georgia Tech has held — they recently held the diversity forum on the issue of academic freedom and the Academic Bill of Rights, which we found very interesting, that they did recognize the issue.
And the little red book — I didn’t bring my copy up here with me, but Students for Academic Freedom has a little red book where they talk about the salient principles in the Academic Bill of Rights and in the movement, and that’s actually become required reading for my political philosophies class at Georgia Tech, and the professor now spends a whole section of the class talking about these issues and assigning sections in Mr. Horowitz’s work, which again, I think is very encouraging and would’ve been unheard of a couple of years ago.
Another thing, even though there has been so much progress, both at Georgia Tech and beyond, the fight continues, and there’s still such a long way to go. And I know you’ve heard some pretty outrageous examples already from the first two panelists. I’d like to share a couple of my favorites. I have a whole arsenal since I’ve been at Georgia Tech almost four years, but I’ll pick the top few.
We — I know Maoism came up. We were studying communism in one of my classes, and as I would expect, the communist manifesto is at the top of our reading list. What I didn’t expect was for the professor to make a passionate defense of Karl Marx and condemn the American system as ineffective. And she stated, “In my humble opinion, communism has gotten a really bad rap in this country.” And she said, “We’re not living in a society that brings out the best in us, but we can do so much better.” And not only that, the professor proceeded to tell us about how even Jesus was a communist. And I was not aware of that and I said, you know, I’m so glad I go to Georgia Tech so I can learn such valuable insights that I missed in Sunday School for the past several years. That was very interesting.
Another thing, we had a discussion on economic policy in one of my classes, and I made a statement in defense of the Bush tax cuts, and the professor told me, “You don’t know what you’re talking about. George Bush hasn’t done anything for you. He’s too busy pimping for the Christian Coalition.”
Again, I fail to see how such statements contribute to a scholarly debate on economic policy, but, unfortunately, statements like that are pretty routine.
Of course, with Katrina, which was obviously a very significant national tragedy and presented many challenges that we need to look at from a scholarly view, you know, I think there are many opportunities there to look at that incident and learn from that. But, unfortunately, many professors are really taking that and using that. In one of my classes, a class on leadership failure and Katrina, we learned about how President Bush is a Neanderthal and Condoleeza Rice has sold her soul. And there, again, I fail to see how that contributes to any progress when looking at such challenges.
So there is a long way to go, and I think, just like I said, raising awareness of these things — they’re not isolated incidents. That’s the biggest question I get. People say, isn’t it an isolated incident or an isolated statement taken out of context? And it’s not. And I think by even hearing a few of our stories today, it’s very evident that this is a widespread problem and really needs to be addressed.
Like I said, it’s heartening, the progress that’s been made, but there’s still a long way to go. And I’m approaching — you know, been at Tech almost four years, as I mentioned, and I started thinking a few months ago about the progress that we had made and how far there was to go, and I really felt that my fight in this battle was not over, and I felt like there were still things that I could do at Georgia Tech to hold the institute accountable and to right some of these wrongs that were still prevalent.
And I started to realize that this problem extends beyond the classroom to also campus administration initiatives, where they not only promote a very heavily, unbalanced agenda, but they stifle anyone who disagrees with them. And there are three specific policies right now at Georgia Tech that I’m challenging. And, actually, I’ve just filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the institute. I’m working with the Alliance Defense Fund. One of the members of my legal team is in the audience, so I have to be careful.
But the Alliance Defense Fund has been wonderful, and they just started a Center for Academic Freedom, where they’re taking up these cases of unconstitutional policies at universities across the country and challenging them in the court of law. And I think that when actions fail, you know, within the system — I’ve worked within the system for, you know, the past few years and tried to go through there working with state government, but you know, sometimes when those things are not enough, I think taking it to the court of law is really the last resort and really necessary if we hope to institute permanent change.
And three of the policies that our lawsuit is targeting is — first of all, Georgia Tech has a speech code, which many universities do across the country, and they have an intolerance policy, where they restrict anything that they deem intolerant. And, there again, it’s very selective as to how they carry that out. We have countless examples of things that we’ve done through College Republicans and through other groups.
For example, I helped organize a protest against the Vagina Monologues, which is a play that takes place on campuses throughout Women’s Awareness Month each year, and we simply put up quotes from the actual play. We put up quotes on a display and said, “Do these quotes represent you? Taken from the script of the Vagina Monologues.” The administration found that offensive. Made us white out the quotes from the play that they were holding in the Student Center, which I found absurd, but that was another way of them enforcing this policy.
Another thing we did a couple years ago was we held a diversity bake sale to mirror the affirmative action policies, which I know many cases have been successful — many College Republicans groups have done that. The campus police came and shut us down because they said we were causing confusion, insensitivity, and being offensive.
Another thing we did was promoting traditional marriage, and through College Republicans, we had an amendment that we supported recently in Georgia. You know, after we did our event, I got called into the Dean’s office, and she told me College Republicans is a joke on campus. She said, “Your organization has become a joke.”
And so these types of things are very prevalent, and we’re hoping through this lawsuit to hold them accountable. They de-fund religious and political groups at Georgia Tech. If you’re a social or cultural group, you get funding. If you’re a political or religious, you don’t. Again, they’re very selective in that.
And then the third thing is that the institute is involved in religious indoctrination, where the institute — the student affairs office evaluates different religions and different denominations based on how tolerant they are towards homosexuality. And then they interpret [holy text] on the matter, and it’s very disturbing that they not only stifle students that try to speak out, but they’re engaged in their own active religious education as a taxpayer-funded public institute.
So those are — that’s, I guess, my latest endeavor that I’m working on, and I’m pretty confident that we can be successful there. And I think, just in closing, you know, it is very important. This fight is obviously very important. And when I was young, my mom would always tell me to choose my battles, and I would tell her, “But I’ve chosen all of them.” No stranger to confrontation. But I think this is definitely a battle. The battle for academic freedom is something that’s definitely worth the fight, and it’s crucial. It’s very important, and like I said, I’m very heartened to see all of you here.
And I think our greatest threat is complacent — we can’t become complacent, and we have to motivate students that are maybe apathetic or intimidated, but I think we have a lot of potential, and I’m really excited to see where the future will lead us. I thank you so much.
STEVE MILLER: Thank you all for coming. First, I just want to thank Ron for hosting the panel. He alluded to — last weekend, I attended a seminar that Young America’s Foundation hosted, which is an amazing experience, run by Ron and Pat, and they just give a brilliant game plan for campus activism and all the strategies that we can use to be as effective as we possibly can. So thanks for that, Ron.
Also, of course, I want to thank David, as always, for your tremendous leadership and hospitality. I really sincerely appreciate it.
I first got involved with Academic Freedom when I was in high school. In ninth and tenth grade, as a 14 and 15-year-old, I had noticed that there were tremendous and widespread academic abuses occurring all over campus. But it wasn’t until I became a junior in high school that it reached a point where I didn’t see any other opportunity or any other option than to confront it head-on.
After September 11, there was an announcement given to all the students through the PA system from our co-principal. He wanted to share with the student body his doubts about the morality of our pending air campaign in Afghanistan. Somehow, he felt like as the leader of our school, it was his job to inform the students as to what national policies were and were not appropriate for the United States of America.
Another teacher, a history teacher, in his advanced placement and history class, gave a very advanced lesson when he took an American flag and dragged it across the floor of a classroom, trying to make some sort of political statement in the wake of the 9/11 tragedy.
All over school during the year, we would see celebrations for multi-cultural events from various left-wing pet causes, but anything conservative or patriotic or traditional was nowhere to be seen in any way, shape, or form.
I decided to write a letter to a local talk show host by the name of Larry Elder detailing the horrors that were occurring at my high school. He decided to invite me on to talk about it, and everything kind of snowballed from there and ended up being a huge issue on campus and spread throughout the community. I went back on the radio show many, many times, and I decided to launch just a huge press campaign against the school to try to get them to reform because just in meeting with them, it was clear that if they had any say in it at all, not a single reform that I wanted would take place, and the school would continue to allow its teachers to inject their personal prejudices into every facet of the courses they were teaching. It wouldn’t be uncommon at all, for instance, to hear teachers say that George Bush was evil or George Bush was a Nazi or George Bush was Satan. One English teacher told his class that George Bush was not a Christian because of the way he was waging the war in Iraq.
So this kind of pervasive and disturbing material was common, and many teachers completely shirked their responsibility to their students. And I should add that this was all on the taxpayer’s dollar. So we were all paying for this wonderful education.
I eventually got the idea to invite David Horowitz to speak at the high school. I thought it would be a really wonderful experience for the students there to get to hear another perspective that simply was absent, and, also, he would speak about the very problems occurring at the school, what education is supposed to be versus what, in reality, it was.
When we first invited him, the school was actually pretty happy about it, and they said, “Oh, great. David Horowitz, the consumer advocate. Send him on down.” And they slated it, and it was set to go, and we were, “Oh, that was pretty easy.” And then when they found out which David Horowitz we meant, they said, “You know, actually, we’re going to have to cancel this event because it’s getting kind of close to final exams, and we really don’t want to distract students from their studies.”
They actually ended up canceling it, I believe, just a couple days before he was supposed to come. So, of course, it was incredibly inconvenient for us all, but moreover, it was a grave violation of the academic freedom of all students on that campus that if a school does have a policy of inviting speakers, as they did, and left-wing speakers and communist speakers came all the time, then every student had a right that if a group decided to bring a conservative speaker, then they should get to hear.
So we launched a huge campaign to get David Horowitz to speak at Santa Monica High School. It took nine months to get him cleared. Eventually, he did come, and I’ll never forget what happened when he came on to campus. The co-principal was there, and she — David walks over to her, and she says, “Mr. Horowitz, I just want to let you know how happy we are to have you on campus.” And David said, “No, you’re not. You tried for nine months to keep me from coming here, so don’t tell me you’re happy to have me on campus.”
I think the real watershed moment came when there was an initiative on the ballot in Santa Monica to raise money for the school to hire about 200 new teachers for the district and to update the classrooms and to buy new textbooks and all that sort of thing, and they were really hoping this ballot measure would pass, and they wanted the already very high real estate taxes to go up even more in Santa Monica. And the ballot measure ended up failing. And the superintendent said to me, “I blame you for this.” He said that, “All the attention you’ve given our school and very negative attention you’ve given our school has caused enough people not to want to give us money that now our ballot initiative [has passed], and this is very bad for us.” They’d been spending a lot of money, and they were just assuming they would get more money.
So I said to him, “Well, this is very simple. I can tell you exactly what we can do to get that ballot measure to pass. You just have to address the problem of the rampant political indoctrination occurring at the high school, and I will be glad to report any changes we make on the radio and in the press, and then I’m sure people might feel differently.”
Well, sure enough, that’s what happened, and he ended up issuing a doctrine saying that there must be political neutrality in a high school classroom. The job of the teacher is to teach about a subject. If you’re a history teacher, you teach about history. If you’re an English teacher, you teach about English. You don’t advocate an ideology. You don’t tell your students that, as I learned in my history class, that America was evil, that America was a force of destruction in the world, that capitalism was the cause of humanity’s suffering, all these kinds of horrific things being taught to students, many of whom I’m very sad to say, being young and impressionable, completely absorbed it and ended up mirroring the positions of their professors.
When I went to Duke University, I ended up seeing more of the same. We have at Duke an 18-to-1 ratio in the major humanities departments of Republicans to Democrats, which is just absolutely staggering. If you look at some departments, like history, there’s not a single Republican in the history department or a single Republican in our sociology department or a single Republican in my major, philosophy. And it’s just unthinkable that this could be accidental, that somehow just not a single Republican of quality has ever applied for a job in any of these departments.
We actually found out what the real reason was, if it weren’t already obvious enough, when the chair of the philosophy department said, “Well, you have to understand that, you know, as John Stuart Mill says, “Conservatives are generally stupid,” then there are just lots of conservatives that we’re just not going to be hiring.” And that was the reason he gave, conservatives, just in general, are a stupid class of people, so what would they be doing at a university.
Apparently, he never met anybody — like I meet all the time in my course [indiscernible] and all the brilliant conservatives that you come across, many of whom I know –conservative peers of mine that, in fact, want to go into teaching but are concerned about the state of the environment on campus.
At Duke, I founded a chapter of Students for Academic Freedom, and we’ve dealt with a lot of harrowing issues on campus. Like, for instance, for Martin Luther King Day every year on school dollar, they bring the most radical speaker you could possibly ever think of. We’ve had terrorists. We’ve had communists. This year, we had Harry Belafonte give our Martin Luther King address. The funding for the event, for the Martin Luther King commemoration was $45,000, and year after year after year, they slap diversity in the face by inviting these radical speakers that really have nothing to do with Martin Luther King Day.
This year, in fact, we brought David to speak on campus. It was one of the most successful events we’ve ever had at Duke University. It was run by students. We got about seven or 800 people there, which, for Duke, is huge.
But interesting thing that happened was there was a professor at Duke University that decided to organize a protest to David’s speech. She sent out an e-mail encouraging all of her students or any students to strip off their clothing to disrupt his address. Fortunately, they got cold feet and did not do that, but they did try to disrupt him while he was talking in a very organized fashion. Most of the audience was completely dismayed by this and ended up proving David’s point, which is the professors have violated the tenets of the profession by instead of teaching students about the subjects, they’re engaging in latent political activities in the classroom, using their authority to recruit students to the radical causes, and it’s shameful, no matter what you may feel about these issues, that’s not the job for a professor. And I know that all of us here are horrified by what’s happening.
The Students for Academic Freedom has been a tremendous resource for students like myself and for campuses like Duke University. We’re out there all the time publicizing this information, trying to put pressure on the university, using the media, using the campus resources, getting the information out about — in violations of academic freedom.
And I’m convinced that if we continue to be relentless, that if we adopt a policy that says we will not tolerate, will not condone, will not allow the people we entrust with training the future citizens and leaders of this country to indoctrinate them, to attempt to radicalize them out of their own contempt for the American way of life, if we say, “Not on our watch,” I am convinced this is a fight that we can win, that we can take politics out of the classroom, and that we can restore dignity and decency and honor to an American education.
Thank you so much for coming.
BRETT MOCK: All right. My name is Brett Mock. I graduated last year from Ball State University. I also want to thank, of course, David for having me here, Ron for the introduction.
And one of the things I want to do and, I guess my chance to speak on the issue, is try to take a little bit of the defense, I guess, out of those people who, I guess you would consider either the Academic Bill of Rights or the issue of academic freedom’s opposition or its biggest critics because I think one of the problems is that for anyone that is a critic of academic freedom or the idea of an Academic Bill of Rights, they’re stuck on the fact that there are an awful lot of Republicans or conservatives that are involved in this issue. And so for them, it’s going to be pretty much cast aside because, well, it’s conservatives who don’t like liberals on campus who are saying what they’re saying. They’re complaining, and that’s what the issue is. They just don’t like to hear liberal speech or Democrats speaking and don’t like that the professors are composed of liberals.
So essentially what I want to do is take as much of the politics out of it as possible. I mean if I’m here, yeah, it’s probably right. I’m a conservative. But because I’m a conservative is not the reason I’m here. I’m not here as like a political career or something of that nature. I’m here, and I think what I want to do is try to observe and to look at the issue as — let’s look at education as a product, and the product is advertised one way, and then in classrooms, I believe, the product sometimes does not get delivered in that way. Instead, it’s delivered totally different from what is advertised to the student, to the parents, to the people who are purchasing that product and trying to get their education.
So I’m just going to examine my in-class experiences from that perspective. And then after I do that, I want to consider who enforces or oversees these policies. Who defends or decides what the standards are in education, and what do they do to enforce them and uphold them? And in that, I’m talking about the administrations at the universities. What do they do? How do they react when students come forward and complain about their in-class experiences and basically what I would call consumer fraud in the aspect of taking a course and not getting what the course was advertised to be.
In my experience, I was a part of a peace studies and conflict resolution minor. I chose the minor because as a political science major going into my junior year, I wanted to have a way to supplement that major. I hope to go to law school. I’m not there yet. But I mean it’s a very competitive thing. And that’s one of the things, I think, that a lot of people, as they grow a little bit older and they’re the ones making the policy decisions, seem to forget. To them, well, if a professor just throws out this blatant challenge and says something that’s, you know, opposing to your point of view, well, your job is to get up and defend your perspective, and your job is to get up and debate with the professor and defend your position.
What they seem to forget is we are in a closed environment. As a student, I have to worry about if I say what I really think, is it going to affect my grade? Is it going to affect my future in that way? So it’s easy to keep forming education policy and think, “Well, that’s what students do. They’re supposed to be challenged.” But it’s a lot more difficult to be the student in that shoe, that’s in that classroom, in that closed environment, and say, “Oh, okay, you’re right. I probably should speak out against my professor to his face in front of the class, and I’m sure that that’s not going to reflect at all in my grade. And that law degree that I was hoping for, maybe I can just pass on that because I’m going to show how brave I am speaking up against my professor in the classroom.”
So, obviously, I think that sometimes you’re a little bit removed when you’re forming policy from the classroom and what it’s like to be an 18 to 22-year-old in a college classroom against a professor who’s supposed to know the topic that he’s teaching.
So to get to it, the Introduction to Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution was taught by Professor [George Wolf], and the description of the class is “the interdisciplinary study of the methods of achieving peace within communities and among nations, history of peace movements, and causes of conflict, and analysis of the principles to resolve conflict using case studies.”
Now, this description would seem like you’re going to have a pretty thorough and pretty balanced perspective of the idea of conflict, how to resolve it, and the issues of war and peace, both within communities and among nations. It seems pretty straightforward. Instead, that’s not what we receive in the class.
Now, if you go to the website for this, the professor is the head of the Center for Peace and Conflict Studies, and he happens to be the academic advisor, the teacher that advises the Peace Worker student group. He sends — you know, the peace workers, they promote peaceful and just interaction between individuals, organizations, and nations. This is accomplished through weekly meetings, an annual Washington D.C. lobbying trip, an annual peace fest, volunteering, and guest speakers. If you look at Peace Worker Resources, and this is an academic — this is the University Center for Peace and Conflict Studies, Moveon.org is a link that’s on the Peace Workers Resources. Also, National Youth and Student Peace Coalition, Leftlinks, is a part of that as well. So I mean this is a university-sponsored center that’s taxpayer funded, and this is what you have as the links. This is our support for peace workers.
In the classroom itself, you might ask yourself who is George Wolf? Exactly what credentials does he have? Well, I have with me what I printed off from the university website. George Wolf, Professor of Music Performance, was teaching the Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution minor, the head of the Center of Peace and Conflict Studies, teaching me and my class about issues of war and peace with no credentials. He is an excellent saxophone player. I actually got to hear him play. But that is what he is. He’s a saxophone player. That’s what he studies, and that’s what he was hired to teach. Yet, somehow, he’s teaching me in this classroom about issues of war and peace and has absolutely no academic credential to be able to do so.
In the class, we studied at the very beginning Gandhism, and we wanted to understand Gandhian philosophy. And a part of understanding Gandhian philosophy and being able to apply our knowledge of it was to look at — when raising a child, how is it that you discipline a child? Do you have corporal punishment? You know, did you spank your child? Or do you use Gandhian philosophy? And so he wanted us to look at it from both perspectives and compare and contrast and that sort of thing.
So the first half of my paper I do exactly that. I explain there are principles of the Gandhian philosophy and this might be how would apply Gandhian philosophy to basically disciplining a child.
And in the second half, I gave my experiences. And because, obviously, I’m relatively belligerent and outgoing — I’m an only child, okay, and if my parents would’ve said, “Well, son, I think you need to go to your room,” I don’t think that would be really effective with me. I mean that’s just being honest. Whereas my dad, being more of a disciplinarian, he did spank me as a child, and to be totally honest with you, kind of got my attention.
So I explained that I thought that Gandhian philosophy, in my perspective, when I was being raised as a child, could potentially be manipulated, that, to me, it wouldn’t be effective, that I would look at it as a joke even as a little kid and never take discipline seriously.
I turned in my paper, and he graded the paper. And when he graded it, he did not have a problem with the composition of the paper. It wasn’t poorly written. You know, there was no issue there. But I lost credit on the paper because I just don’t understand Gandhian philosophy. And he explained the reason I don’t is because Gandhian philosophy can’t be manipulated.
Okay, so, “Professor Wolf, are you telling me that it’s totally infallible; I mean Gandhian philosophy, if applied correctly, will work all the time?” “Well, basically, yeah, I mean we explained in class that this is — you know, Gandhi would not back down. I mean this is — you don’t understand.” And I said, “Well, sir, I understand the philosophy, but I think it’s pretty unfair for you to grade me down because I don’t necessarily agree with it.”
Well, after arguing with my professor and putting myself in a relatively compromised position for the rest of the semester, as this was pretty early on, I did get the points back. So I guess there’s a small victory. However, for the rest of the semester, I had to worry about the fact that my professor, who isn’t even qualified to teach the subject anyway, was going to take out the fact that I argued with him by saying, “You’re grading me on my opinion and not on the ability to discuss the ideas,” what effect that was going to have on me.
So the short end of the story is, basically, on papers, and there were more than one, he would put his opinion into the grading and not based on my understanding of the topic.
An example of this is there was one assigned book report for the class, and there were books that he suggested. He brought to class approximately a dozen of them, and he gave us a chance to pick one of those books to use as our book report and give a presentation about it. Every single one of those books had a very liberal perspective to it — anti-war, anti-military. I asked if I could use another book, one that supported military intervention or violent forms of conflict resolution, and I was told no. Well, once I finished the book report on Noam Chomsky’s Hegemony or Survival, I wrote entirely as though I believed everything Noam Chomsky said, and I was the best Noam Chomsky supporter one could ever believe, and I got an A-plus on the paper, 10 points extra credit.
So I suppose it’s possible that I write better and I make better and sound — more sound arguments when I’m supporting those things that my professor believes in but I adamantly oppose and disagree in.
So this is an example of how this academic indoctrination happens. It is real, and I would urge those people who don’t think it’s real to consider what happens in the classroom. So, thank you.
RON ROBINSON: I should be playing Hail to the Chief right now.
DAN SCHUBERTH: Well, good morning from Maine. How about that? Who’s been to Maine here? I don’t know. Eh? All right, reasonable. Usually, the audience is like, “Yeah, Maine, yeah, that state up north somewhere,” right?
Got to address Ron’s point real quick. Ron, I think you came into Michael Jackson at the convention last year, and if I wasn’t mistaken, I think you requested it. So I don’t know about that, but anyway, we’ll clear that one up behind the scenes.
But thanks, Ron, for your leadership and for your friendship in this whole gig. Honored to be on the panel with these folks. You guys are rock stars, and thanks again for David for inviting me down.
Want to clear up a couple often misconceptions about Maine so we don’t have to deal with it in Q&A. Yup, Maine is a big state. It’s actually quite large. We do actually have lobsters there. There are quite a few of them. We have the second-highest gun ownership in the entire country, which is pretty cool, right? Yeah, yeah? And we have one of the most unpopular governors in the country, and it’s like my state party manual to attack the governor at every public forum I’m at, so that’s what I’m doing today. So I can check that one off, and we can talk about academic freedom for a little bit.
But anyway, thanks for having me down today. I want to fill you in. I think Maine has distinguished itself in this whole battle as a battleground state on the issue of academic freedom, and that is something that’s so encouraging to hear. I know Dave was very surprised to say that yesterday at our closed-door session, but that’s something we’re pretty proud of up in Maine. And, more importantly, we’ve discovered on a state party level, working with the Maine GOP and some of our coalition groups that not only is this a battleground issue that we’re dealing with, but it’s a winning issue. It’s an issue that folks find indefensible, though, that try to oppose it, and I’ll give you a little background on sort of what we’ve done and sort of where we’re progressing, where I think we can go, and I’m encouraged to say I think we can go in the very short future, so stay tuned.
Maine — we actually proposed the Academic Bill of Rights in the Maine legislature last March. Think it was the day before my birthday, which was kind of cool. We got to celebrate the Academic Bill of Rights on my birthday. What we did was we had a bill sponsored by Representative Stephen Bowen, now, who is a lifelong educator. He teaches high school up in Rockport, Maine — vacation land, nice area of the state — and he proposed a bill in conjunction with the College Republicans to propose David’s Academic Bill of Rights into the Maine legislation, LV-1194, I believe it was. And Steve’s bill was articulately defended. Steve stood up, in conjunction with 12 College Republicans that came out that day, to testify on behalf of the bill, in addition to a box of other testimony describing incidents of academic bias in the state of Maine. You should’ve seen some of these committee members when we walked in. Slapped a box of testimony, talking about everything from people throwing bibles over their shoulders in classrooms, talking about God not existing, you know, calling President Bush’s wife a moron, you know, things like that. We had a box full of testimony that we slapped on the table at the Educational Hearing Committee about this issue of academic freedom.
We stood there, 12 College Republicans, and testified the entire day. We were there at eight in the morning and think we ended up at eight at night. And it was interesting to see the response of the Committee and who stood up to oppose us. Not one student came to Augusta that day to testify against the Academic Bill of Rights, not one. We paraded 12 students in there to talk about their experience and why they felt this bill was critical to the future of the state of Maine for our educational system. Not one student.
But our opponents, on the other hand, were folks like the Maine Education Association. The Maine ACLU showed up with a team of lawyers to try to tell us that this bill would actually ruin education and destroy academic freedom in the classroom. The Chancellor of the Maine University System came out. The Chancellor of the University of Maine at Farmington came out, the number-one education school in the country. These were our opponents. Wasn’t students. It wasn’t folks that are actually affected by these university policies, but these are the bureaucrats that want to maintain the status quo in the state of Maine.
So we fought gallantly. We were there until the heat of night. The ACLU guys tried to stand up during one of the student’s testimony and say, “We’ve heard enough. It’s all the same things. These guys are Horowitz clones, and they’re coming in to ruin our state.” This is the rhetoric they were spouting out.
So at the end of the day, the bill actually — it went to a full vote, failed by one vote in the Maine legislature. Can you imagine — what do you think the breakdown of partisanship is in the Maine legislature? Now, we have 151 members in the Maine legislature — 74 Democrats, 73 Republicans, a couple independents, and a Green. One vote separated our outcome from passing the Academic Bill of Rights, just like they did in Georgia — that’s our model — back in March. Now, to me, that’s inspiring. That means we’re so close at being the next state to make this thing happen. We’re going to get it done.
So I got kicked upstairs. I was elected to serve as the Vice Chair of the Maine Republican Party in November this past year, youngest person in the country in the position I’m in, which is kind of intimidating but kind of cool at the same time because I get to talk about issues of academic freedom from this pedestal I have now with the Maine GOP symbol on the front of the podium. That’s pretty cool.
So we’ve done a lot of radio. The party has been incredibly supportive of this initiative and given me free reign to traipse across the state of Maine and talk about academic freedom issues, and we’ve gotten traction. We have radio stations like Fox and a TV station, Fox 23, which has us on almost on a weekly basis talking about academic freedom issues, Ray Richardson’s show. That’s incredibly inspiring.
More importantly, legislators see this as a winning issue, and that’s sort of what I want to leave you with today before I pass it along to Nate to talk about some other things in Maine.
Legislators in Maine, and the party in Maine, as a state party, have understood that academic freedom is a winning issue. When you talk about a plurality of ideas in the classroom, when you talk about giving students equal access to the marketplace of ideas, that is pretty hard to argue against. And we find the left in a very difficult position when they try to oppose our initiatives from a state party. So we like to talk about it, and I like to talk about it in every available forum. When I talk about how awful the governor is and all the things I’m supposed to say as vice chair of the party, I always tie in a tie about academic freedom because people agree with it, and it’s very difficult to oppose.
So I’m encouraged about what our party’s going to do on the academic freedom issue. I’m going to keep waving my arms around and all that good stuff at every available opportunity talk about this issue, but I think the most important and lasting impact that I can make — and this is something I’m working on specifically — is to pick up that one seat in the Maine House of Representatives. Literally, we have 8,000 people in the House district. It is so, so winnable. We lose some of these seats by two votes. We lost it by two votes in 2004.
Our majority statewide in the House of Representatives was lost by 104 votes aggregate. That separates 104 votes dealing with issues like the Academic Bill of Rights, dealing with taxpayers’ bill of rights. I see Senator Andrews in the back of the room, champion taxpayers bill of rights. These are issues that will be passed when we take the majority.
Representative Joshua Tardy — and I’ll close on this one — Representative Joshua Tardy will be elected our Speaker, and he told me to share a message with you folks down here when I came down to speak today. And Josh Tardy told us flat out, “Academic Bill of Rights is on the top of our policy agenda when we take this majority.”
Representative Steve Bowen, the gentleman who proposed the Academic Bill of Rights, most likely will be elected our Majority Leader when we take the House. It is so critical that we pick up that one seat. This bill is literally sitting on the line. I want to be able to report to you folks next year and to say that Maine took the step, followed in Georgia’s footsteps, and became the state that passed the Academic Bill of Rights after taking one seat.
So, stay tuned, folks. Love to talk to you more about this stuff. I’m sure we’ll get some questions, but the best way to get me is email [email protected] Check it out. But we’re doing some exciting stuff. We want to win up there, and we want to pass this bill. So thanks for having me down, Mr. Horowitz, and it’s an honor to be here.
NATE WALTON: My name is Nate Walton. I’m Chairman of the Maine College of Republicans, and it’s been quite a journey to get to you folks here today. Started out this morning, six a.m., Portland, Maine. Got one small airport in the state. I get there. They tell me the flight’s been cancelled. And I say, “What are the other options?” Well, there’s a flight leaving from Boston at 8:20.” And Boston’s about two-and-a-half hours south. I’m originally from the Boston area, so it’s not terribly far.
But I made the drive, got on the flight, and I’m glad to be here with you folks yesterday. It was definitely a priority to tell you about the success we’ve had with Academic Freedom in Maine on the statewide level.
Dan talked a little bit about how we started the movement last year in the state legislature — 13, 12 College Republicans, courageous enough to stand before a House Committee and testify about the examples that they have seen on our college campuses. In a state that is best known for its lobster and moose, we have a serious academic freedom problem. I often describe it in a way that relates very well to a lot of our members in the Maine College Republicans. It’s about the intellectual solvency of the next generation. How can we be productive adults and leaders in society if we don’t have the marketplace of ideas in which to develop ourselves as fully responsible citizens of America today?
A lot of our members in the Maine College of Republicans come from rural schools, like University of Maine at Farmington, University of Maine at Preskile, where they work often one or two jobs just to be able to help their families and to be able to pay for tuition. And the fact that these folks work so hard to be able to get their education and to stay in Maine, which is a big issue among young people because the economic condition brought in by the Democrats is so poor, is a really important issue to them.
And like my colleague mentioned about consumer fraud, it really is just that because when you’re paying so much for school these days, I think we all deserve to have the marketplace of ideas and intellectual pluralism that we’re told to expect.
And I’d like to talk specifically about a few examples that have happened in Maine since I was chairman of the Bates College Republicans and now State Chairman of the Maine College Republicans. At Bates College last year, when I was the Chapter Chair, we were able to pass the Academic Bill of Rights unanimously at our school. And when I took the state chair reigns over from Dan last summer, I made it a priority to motivate our folks during the off year with the Academic Bill of Rights.
The College Republicans are often known as an organization that focuses primarily on election-year politics, on Republican activities at the local, state, and national level. But the Academic Bill of Rights is a fantastic motivator, and academic freedom issues are a fantastic motivator for keeping our members involved. And in 2005 — we recruited 1,000 new members off of our college campuses in the fall of 2005, and the reason we did that was not because there was an exciting election going on, because there wasn’t, but it was because we introduced the Academic Bill of Rights on eight different college campuses across the state. It failed on some, it passed on the others, but the fact of the matter is that each time it was introduced on these college campuses, a media debate ensued. Debate teams got enraged, and faculty professors were protesting left and right, but mainly on the left. And it was really a fantastic rallying issue for our organization.
And leading into 2006, like Dan said, we really have the potential to capitalize on the success we’ve had on academic freedom to keep our folks motivated during the election year to realize that winning the Maine state legislature, winning the Blaine House, which is the Governor’s mansion, ties directly into the success of our academic freedom efforts in Maine because of the fact of the matter is in a state where 20% of the young people are leaving each year, we want to have an incentive to keep them, to get a good education, and to get good jobs to help the future of the state.
I want to specifically thank Mr. Horowitz for his leadership because without his Students for Academic Freedom and the Academic Bill of Rights, there would be no academic freedom in Maine, there would be no discussion of these issues, and I certainly wouldn’t be standing here today.
And I also would like to thank Mr. Ron Robinson. Young America’s Foundation has been an amazing organization personally to me. When I was a leader at Bates, we were able to bring speakers, such as Bill Kristol, Ken Starr, David Horowitz. And bringing speakers like this and having events on campus has been an excellent way to rally our folks on academic freedom issues as well.
And with that, I’m sure we’ll have lots of questions about academic freedoms and how that relates to the College Republicans. I look forward to talking to you all during the course of the conference. Thank you.
RON ROBINSON: Thank you. Thank you, Nate. Appreciate your efforts to be here today. What a great group of students. I think you have a better understanding of what they face in the classroom, but also, I think you have a better understanding of how these issues, once raised, can sweep like a firestorm across the state and have the added attraction of rallying people that are oftentimes difficult to rally with a winning issue, a winning coalition.
Because the next panel is scheduled to begin, I think that — and I have no doubt whatsoever there are probably questions you would have for some of these students. But I believe all of them will be here the rest of the day, and you may have an opportunity to raise your questions with them individually. But on behalf of the conference, let’s give the students one final round of applause.
I apologize. I used sort of Gandhian time clock methods up here, so we didn’t really get a chance to get to Q&A. But thank you. Thank you very much. Appreciate it.
[End of Disc 2, track 5]