By David Horowitz—FrontPageMag.com–01/11/06
The organization Students for Academic Freedom has created a website at www.studentsforacademicfreedom.org with a bulletin board where students can post complaints about their classes and professors can respond. Here is a complaint from a Temple student about a course in the English Department. Remember this is listed in the Temple catalogue as a course in English literature:
This professor always had something negative to say not only about the Bush Administration, but about conservatives in general. She stated on one occasion that it is impossible to be a moral capitalist. She stated that the US does not have the right to say anything about the Taliban’s record of oppressing women because the US oppresses women too. She said that Communism and Capitalism are the same thing. On one occasion, I began to feel physically sick from her misrepresentation of facts, and on numerous occasions I stood up to her and tried to advocate my opinion. She’d cut me off in mid-argument.
Here is a teacher using an English class to express her personal political prejudices. This is a form of consumer fraud, since this professor has no professional expertise in the subjects she is addressing and since the course is not billed as a course in capitalism or the oppression of women. It is a violation of the academic freedom of her students.
Here are some random posts from Temple students at the Internet site www.RateMyProfessor.com which reflect similar disregard for Temple’s own Academic Freedom Policy.
In regard to a Middle Eastern History course a student wrote:
· We learned NOTHING about the Middle East. All [the professor] did was talk about political economy and liberalism.
In regard to an English professor a student wrote:
· Extreme liberal feminist. During class discussions, she’ll shoot down what you say if it disagrees with her views.
This is an English class, not a class in Women’s Studies.
In regard to a political science class a student wrote:
· A girl in our class lost her uncle in the 9/11 attack. [The professor] insulted her uncle, student started crying, then she kicked her out of the classroom. This was a week after 9/11. No joke.
In regard to an English professor a student wrote:
· She’s always in a bad mood and isn’t open to hearing your opinion, so don’t bother giving it (unless you’re anti-bush b/c then you’re her best friend). She is Anti-Bush big time.
This is an English literature class, not a class in politics.
In regard to an anthropology course a student wrote:
· Had to change my conservative standpoint on the final paper to save my grades. Got an A for writing a liberal paper, which I still don’t believe in. How’s that for college?
Incidents like these don’t take place unless there is a university culture supporting them. That is why academic freedom policies protecting students from political indoctrination have to be stated, and codified as student rights, and enforced. Since the university administrations at Temple and elsewhere in the state have failed to do this, it is the responsibility of the legislature, which funds these institutions, to see they honor these already established principles by implementing them.
On the other hand, Temple’s Academic Freedom Policy is itself deficient. It does not even mention the principle of intellectual diversity, which the American Council on Education has called “central to a higher education.” We hope this Committee will insist that Temple University – and all state universities and colleges in Pennsylvania — embrace and implement the principle of intellectual diversity, which is essentially what academic freedom is about. HR177 explicitly states that “Academic freedom is likely to thrive in an environment of intellectual diversity….” But Temple University’s policy does not include a statement like this, and its academic programs regularly violate the principle.
For instance, Temple provides a “writing-intensive two course sequence” called “Intellectual Heritage” which is required of all Temple students and which includes a focus on Enlightenment, Romantic and Revolutionary Thinkers. The Revolutionary Thinkers include Darwin, Marx and Freud. Professors involved in the course have posted guides for students on a department webpage called “Faculty Perspectives on Marx.” Most of the faculty guides provided on this webpage are explications of Marx’s writings without critical comment. In all I counted about 30 sample exam and study questions provided by the professors relating to Marx. Every one of them prompts the students to explain what Marx said in the way you would expect students to explain the theories of a scientist like Isaac Newton, whose hypotheses were established by real world experiments that proved them valid, and have been confirmed by scientists ever since.
Here is a sample guideline suggested by one Intellectual Heritage Professor: “Marx presents an astute understanding and critique of Capitalism. Is it convincing?” The question does not say, “Marx analyzed capitalism. Is his analysis convincing?” This so-called question tells the student what to think: Marx wrote a wise critique of capitalism. Are you convinced? What if you’re not convinced, and suppose you encountered the question on an exam. Are you going to contradict your professor and risk a possible repercussion to your grade?
This is not education; it is indoctrination.
Not one of the faculty-provided guide questions asks students to consider that all economies run by Marxists have failed – and have failed catastrophically. Marxist regimes have caused the economic impoverishment of billions of people. They have produced man-made famines and human suffering on an unprecedented scale. Yet, insofar as I could discern, not one professor contributing to the Temple Intellectual Heritage Department website has bothered to mention this. Not one.
In fact, the chairman of the Political Science Department, who has provided an extensive study guide for students on the Intellectual Heritage Department website, explicitly denies that the acts committed in the name of Marx have anything to do with Marx or his ideas. “The collapse of authoritarian communism,” he writes, “means the death of Marxist-Leninism [which] has little to do with classical Marxism.” This would be news to Vladimir Lenin. Nonetheless, the professor has a point which is a legitimate one – that Marx thought socialism would occur in developed capitalist societies. But Marx also wrote that backward Russia might be the first country to implement his ideas. The point is that these are controversial issues, and yet what the Temple faculty has done – as reflected on this website — is to remove the controversy from the curriculum and present a one-sided view of Marx which fails to make students aware that there are very different alternative views.
The faculty treatments of Marx on the Intellectual Heritage Department website lack the basic apparatus of academic inquiry. No critical literature on Marx and Marxism is offered. There is no confrontation with the most serious question that a thinker like Marx poses, since his ideas have had a vast and vastly destructive impact on the history of mankind, namely, did these ideas lead directly to the murder of 100 mill