Student Panel #1: Faculty and Administration Harassment of Students
Washington, D.C. March 4, 2007
David Horowitz; David Horowitz Freedom Center;
Michael Abdurakhmanov; Pace University; Student
Matt Ferrara; Florida State University;
Logan Fisher; Temple University; Former Student
Matt Sanchez; Columbia University; Student
Jason Walter; Bloomsburg University; Student
Ruth Malhotra; Georgia Tech; Student
Bradley Alexander; University of Georgia; Student
David Horowitz: Welcome to the Second Academic Freedom Conference.
The purpose of this conference is to highlight some of the problems that we’ve been talking about on university campuses.
I am hoping — we’re now in the third year of our campaign. We’ve had a wall put up, by opponents of the Academic Bill of Rights and academic freedom, of denial that there is a problem. That’s been the first line of defense of the status quo — refusal to recognize that there is a problem. And the second offense has been to distort entirely the Academic Bill of Rights.
I often find my opponents putting words in my mouth and then attacking the words that they put in my mouth. I think that’s a fairly common experience for conservatives. But I believe that over time, because we have truth on our side here, in this respect, that we will prevail. And I think this is — change is already happening and will continue happening.
We had two very significant breakthroughs in the state of Pennsylvania, where two universities, Temple and Penn State, adopted — in the case of Penn State, they applied their existing and very good academic freedom provisions to students for the first time. And they did it through — the faculty senate actually did it through a formal resolution. And at Temple University, the Board of Trustees adopted a student — it’s called Faculty and Student Rights and Responsibilities. This is the first time in the history of Pennsylvania.
But I’m — you know, I can’t say this with certainty, because I haven’t studied all — I don’t know if it’s 3,000 or 6,000 university academic freedom provisions. But I’m willing to bet that there’s not a single other university in the United States that has academic freedom provisions that apply to students. And this is certainly true in the state of Pennsylvania, in the public universities in Pennsylvania and the University of Pennsylvania, which are the schools I’m familiar with.
So this is a huge breakthrough. It was successfully obscured by the American Federation of Teachers and its allies in the press. And the Democrats on the Academic Freedom Committee also did this. They gutted the report and eliminated the part of the report that had analyzed the existing academic freedom policies and showed, for example — at Penn State, the policy was in the employee handbook. Students are not employees. So when students have no grievance machinery, and they have no rights, they are not going to file complaints.
As it happens, at Penn State, 13 students did file complaints over five years. And this was used quite cynically by the administration at Penn State, the Democrats on the committee, and the press in Pennsylvania to say that academic freedom violations of students were rare. Well, it’s not the violations that were rare; it’s the reporting of them, because students are not protected.
During these hearings, we had about 20 or 30 students who signed statements but did not want their names released to the committee or the press. And the reason that the Temple trustees actually decided to adopt a student-specific bill of rights is because they were presented with the fact — they talked to the students and heard the stories.
I think — and I will have more to say about this later today — but I think it’s in the interests of all parties concerned, including the — including, well, certainly the majority of professors, who are professional and who respect students’ rights and their — respect the differences that students may have with their own views — that large majority — it’s in their interest to do something about this problem. And it’s even in the interest of the activists on faculties to do so. Because this is only bringing a bad reputation to the — or bad repercussions to the university, which they, after all, dominate now.
So it’s bad for everybody concerned. And that’s why I’m confident, if we are persistent, we will prevail.
So, this first panel is about Faculty and Administration Harassment of Students. And our first speaker is going to be Michael Abdurakhmanov, who is a junior at Pace University, who had an experience recently when he tried to show the film, “Obsession.”
Michael Abdurakhmanov: Thank you very much, David.
I want to first take a moment and thank everybody for coming out today, and thank David Horowitz for putting together this great conference, helping all of us share our stories with all of you.
My situation began back in November. I am President of my — of the local Pace Hillel at Pace University. And as part of our Judaism Awareness Week, we wanted to put on the film, “Obsession.” And it’s a film on radical Islam. It talks about, very honestly, what’s going on in the Middle East; a lot of the facts that your general student doesn’t really know, because academia does not teach it. It’s not a popular subject.
When we had this idea, I contacted the Muslim Student Association, the MSA, to work with us on this event. Because we figured if — it’ll be great to have a moderate Muslim community do a joint event with us like this, to show to — at least to our school, if not New York and our country, that it is about time that these two nations that have been constantly battling each other to step forward and condone terrorism, and work together in a peaceful — to find a peaceful resolution.
MSA did not see eye to eye with us. Instead of coming to us and saying no, they went directly to the administration and totally rejected our offer. The administration postponed contacting us about — when they knew that, they wanted to pull the plug on the film. I heard rumors that Dean O’Grady, the Dean of Students, wanted to cancel the showing.
So after making an appointment for myself and [Alice Gruenberg] — she’s the Vice President of Hillel at Pace — we sat in on the meeting, and it started off very friendly. You know, how are you, and everything. And finally, about seven minutes in, Dean O’Grady says to us, “You know, Mike, if you show this film, you would be further incriminating yourself in the recent hate crimes that occurred at our campus.”
Now, the hate crimes that occurred in our campus are pretty serious. There were — the Koran was desecrated about three or four times. But at the same time, there were swastikas found all over — in multiple campuses at Pace. But for some reason, the administration felt it was — they had to lean more with the Muslim community and feel more sympathy for what’s going on in that situation. And they completely stifled our freedom of speech to express — to show this film.
That following — well, that day, we told them, you know, “I don’t want the police investigating me any more than they should. So we’re not going to show the film. And we might show it maybe in a year or so when the situation calms down.” That following Monday, we had a mediation between Hillel and MSA. And six administrators were present. And two professional mediators were there, to make sure that everything was smooth.
When MSA began talking, they were being very loud, very obnoxious. And at the end, they were actually cursing whenever I made signs that I would like to show this film at a later date. To add onto this, when I tried to defend Hillel’s point of view, the assistant, Dean David Clark, was sitting to the right of me. And as I was defending the film, he put his hand on my right shoulder and pushed me back down into my seat. And this happened twice. So as you could imagine, I felt completely helpless, completely silenced.
I realized then that there was nothing that I can say to these people that will change their mind and open up their eyes to what this film is really trying to say, and that if we really work together, we could make this, you know, supposedly bad film work for the whole community at Pace. They didn’t see eye to eye with us on that.
What really set us off was that in the weeks to come, students started coming forward saying, you know, this isn’t just when we’re talking about big, political films like this; it’s happening in the classrooms as well. Students were stepping forward, saying that professors are talking — you know, they would walk into a classroom, say, “So, did you hear what the stupid President did today?” Just — an ideology that they assume everybody else is on the same page with them. And it’s not fair to those students that may disagree, or maybe want to express a different point of view.
Because as you could imagine, when the — just saying “professor” itself has a certain value to it, some kind of level of respect in it. So when you have a person who’s a doctorate or professor speaking in front of you and says, you know, this-and-this is wrong, the war is wrong, Zionism should fall — as a student, you feel silenced. You feel, you know — well, everybody else seems to be shaking their head yes. I don’t really want to step up, because my grades may suffer, or I might be ridiculed with my classmates.
And this is something that, after speaking to these panelists and speaking with all of you, you know, last night, I realized that this is happening across the country.
We finally — what finally did it in for me was that the minora was left broken for three days, without the administration even being aware of it. When we placed the complaint to the administration, they said, you know, “It’s an accident; we’ll get right on it.” And they did — the very next day, they fixed the minora, and they actually lit it for the first time.
But when we were asking them, “What about these hate crimes,” the final — there was this huge hate crime. There was a — and this happened three days after the holocaust denial conference in Iran, which many of you probably know about. And there was a big swastika — a big red swastika drawn at the Pleasantville campus, on a holocaust remembrance event that Pleasantville was holding up there. And the administration labeled that incident a bias incident rather than a hate crime.
And it’s all wordplay. But at the same time, “bias incident” doesn’t really say anything. A hate crime puts in that meaning; shows that the administration is aware that problems are happening, and change needs to happen.
We’ve put together a press release. And with the help of Phil Ornstein, we managed to get the story out to the public. And within days, lots of different organizations, including Students for Academic Freedom, stepped forward and helped us get our message across, and helped intimidate the administration back; kind of strong-armed them in saying, “Look, you have to start paying attention to what the students are concerned about. You can’t just enforce your political ideology onto the students; you have to work with them. You have to address the issues that are — that the students are concerned with.”
And that is what’s happening now. After months of battling with the administration, they finally are working on a spiritual center. It’s going to involve having — the Jews, the Muslims and the Christians are going to have their own workplace, where — their own office, so that you could come in, speak whatever you want to speak about; you know, hold the events that you want to hood, without being afraid that the administration or the students around you will be confining you in any other way. And that’s really what happened at our campus.
And I’d like to just conclude with the fact that every student that experiences this across the country should feel confident that they could go public with this story. Because there’s hundreds of people out there in this country that are going to support you. But you have to be prepared for the long fight. You know, if you’re going to make the public statement, you have to be there for the long run. Because change is possible, but you just have to believe in it, and you have to want it.
So, thank you very much.
David Horowitz: Thank you, Michael.
Our second speaker is going to be Matt Ferrara of Florida State University.
Matt Ferrara: Thank you, David.
When I was told what the topic of the panel I was going to be on was — Faculty Harassment of Students — I thought, Okay, well, I’m going to have to kind of condense all of this stuff down in order to give it to you in a concise manner. Because the truth is that faculty harassment of students, unfortunately, is alive and well today in a university system. And maybe when you think of, you know, bastions of liberal thought, you may not think Florida State University. But it’s alive and well on campuses across our country.
I’m going to give you a few examples of some things that have happened at Florida State — to my peers, to my friends; people that have come to me and said, “Look, you know, I’ve gone to the chair of the department, I’ve gone to the professor, I’ve gone to the president of the university, and nothing’s being done about some of the things that have happened in the classroom.”
I’ll give you an example of a student in a humanities course, for example. This student participated in classroom discussion. This was a discussion-based class where this student was going to receive a grade, based on their participation. And even though it was a humanities class, the teacher decided to turn the discussion political. And this student responded from a conservative point of view, because that’s what he was.
The teacher kicked him out of the classroom after supporting President Bush — just straight-up told him to leave the classroom, and pulled him aside afterwards and told him that if he did not drop the course, he would be receiving an F for the semester.
When this student took this complaint to the chair of the department, the chair of the department explained to this student that — and I quote — “If she perceived him as a disruptive influence in class, she was allowed to employ whatever means necessary to achieve her ends.” So, you know, we’ve got great support from the department heads as well.
Another example — this is a science of nutrition course; you know, obviously a political discussion is going to happen in there. They have a guest lecturer in this nutrition course who proceeds to spend his 45 minutes of class time not talking about the science of nutrition, but mimicking President Bush and calling him “an incompetent hick who wants too many freedoms.” Because, you know, those freedoms are — that’s bad stuff.
A theater studies course — there we go — a theater studies course. I had a student come to me, really upset after taking this course. And she explained to me how instead of teaching theater studies that this professor would spend an hour and a half each class period talking about how Bush was responsible for 9/11, and at the beginning of this semester told the students that they were expected to see Michael Moore’s film, “Fahrenheit 911,” because it was “a brilliant piece of work.”
In the end, these students were asked to write a paper dealing with the sexual perversity with gender in “Romeo and Juliet.” After this paper was turned in, this teacher pulled this student aside and told her that her paper was politically driven, and she had no right to express those kinds of opinions in her work. The irony.
So I mean, these professors that we’ve got in the classroom — you know, they want to exercise their freedoms to say whatever they want in the classroom and tell students whatever they want, and expect things of these students, regardless of these students’ beliefs. Just — you know, it’s not a two-sided equation; it doesn’t go both ways.
I also — I’ll give you one more story before I conclude here is — this is actually a political science course. Now none of the courses I’ve given to you so far have even been political science courses. And politics doesn’t belong in the science of nutrition course. So this is a public policy course. And this student was — even raised her hand to ask in a discussion if the teacher was okay if the student had some corrections she would like to make to some of the things the teacher said. And she told her go ahead. And this student proceeded to correct some things about the war in Iraq and some weapons of mass destruction that the teacher had mentioned during her lecture that day. And this student was also told that she needed to drop the class or would receive an F for the semester, and that what she was saying in class was fact and wasn’t opinion.
When this student came to meet with this professor after dropping the course, she provided documentation for the argument she had made in class. And this professor looked at the documentation, saw the Fox News Channel label on one of the sheets in the top right-hand corner, and told her that anything from that news source was unreliable, and she should not bring it to her.
To conclude, something — a completely different aspect of faculty harassment of students is the issue of funding of campus organizations. And maybe you don’t consider that harassment. But when a university is funding liberal organizations, six, 10 times as much as they’re funding conservative organizations, you know, that’s just not fair.
I looked into the budget records of my university. Our student government this year has a budget of about $10 million that is taxed from our tuition, and every cent of it. And so the student government allocates these funds based on — basically however they want to.
I looked back to the budgets going back all the way to 1989 and found that on average — and using as my guideline what kind of speakers these organizations brought in – if this organization brought in speakers from both sides of the political spectrum, then I didn’t include them. If speakers brought in only — or if organizations brought in only one type of speaker from the political spectrum, then I included them as either liberal or conservative. And on average since 1989, our university has funded liberal organizations between six and 10 times as much as they’ve funded conservative organizations; one year so much as $9,000 to about $120,000.
So I’m here to assure you that it is alive and well. And conferences like this are helping us to fight the bias. Thank you.
David Horowitz: Thank you, Matt.
Our next speaker is Logan Fisher, from Temple University.
Logan Fisher: Thank you, Mr. Horowitz. I feel like a college professor up here; I have a captive audience. This is great. That’s what it feels like.
Good morning, everyone. As he said, my name’s Logan Fisher, formerly from Temple University. I made it; I graduated. I spoke out, and I still managed to graduate. So I guess I’m a success story, if you call it that.
I originally became involved with Students for Academic Freedom during my junior year of undergrad at Temple. Our chapter really grew out of a base of College Republicans. You know, we’re always looking for conservative professors on campus, which was quite a task. A lot of the other organizations had overwhelming faculty involvement in their organizations. And College Republicans — we struggled for — I was there for three and a half years at Temple, and then we struggled the whole time just to find an advisor. For about two years, we didn’t have an advisor, even though we were supposed to; we just couldn’t find one.
In December of 2005, I learned that Temple was going to host one of the academic freedom hearings that was being held around the state. Our favorite legislator, Gib Armstrong — I don’t know where he — there he is, Gib Armstrong — he passed a — there. Gib passed the bill that authorized a select committee in Pennsylvania to go around to Pennsylvania State and state-related schools. I think they went to Penn State, Pitt, Temple, maybe Bloomsburg — Millersville — and to look into the state of academic freedom on campus.
And in the few short weeks leading up to the hearing, our group collected close to 20 testimonies, written testimonies, from students. Again, a lot of them wanted to remain anonymous.
You know, one of the problems is, if you have — say you’re a freshman, and you are a history major, and you have a professor who you don’t agree with, or maybe a professor who’s harassing you — a lot of times, if you’re a history major, you’re going to have to take that same professor again. So, you know, to speak out when you’re young, as a freshman, against a certain professor — a lot of times, students are hesitant to do so, just because they know they’re going to have to have that professor again.
In the 20 — about 20 testimonies we collected, I was really amazed at some of the things people wrote — you know, as my colleagues have said, lectures about the war in Iraq in accounting class, evolution in micro-economics — let’s see — Mao in a social sciences class. I was one of two students that agreed to testify publicly before the committee. Conveniently, it was held during winter break, so there weren’t many students there. But the press still wondered why there weren’t many students there. Course, they used that to say that there was not a liberal bias on campus.
After the hearing, the academic freedom issue was pretty hot on campus, as you can imagine. Professors seemed a little irritated. How dare we question their blatant bias in the university. It seems to me the only time a college professor ever speaks out against diversity is when it comes to conservative faculty.
My testimony was also printed in a couple newspapers, but most notably was posted in the faculty newspaper, which made for an interesting situation in a lot of my classes. Luckily at that point, I was graduating; I only had nine credits at the time. So it wasn’t too much of a big deal.
I did have one professor — about a week or two after the hearing, he — this was a — I think this was a micro-economics class. And he said, “Well, I know we’re not supposed to talk about politics in the classroom anymore” — and he glared at me — said, “but I’m going to do so anyway.” And he gave about a 10-minute lecture on the war in Iraq.
This is a great story. In March of last year, one of the things I liked to do as a College Republican — there were a couple of conservative faculty. And we had an agreement where they would kind of let me know what’s going on, and I wouldn’t say where I got the information from. So I got word from an English professor, who happened to be a closet conservative on campus, that the English faculty — the faculty — were arranging an antiwar protest on campus. And that was going to be paid for with campus funds, partly. So he let me know about it. And we organized a group of College Republicans, Students for Academic Freedom members. And we actually had a group that was, I’d say, about three or four times larger than the professors’ protest. The funny thing was they called all the media to come see their protest, and we actually got on TV more than they did.
But that was really interesting, you know. We got to see the professors outside of the classroom. And we were surprised that they were far worse than they even were inside the classroom.
Now, we were only a few yards away from their protest. But we made sure all our students stayed on our side. We had signs; we had all sorts of things going on, even a — we had blank forms for people to sign to send letters to the troops. But a couple interesting things that we were called — some professors would come over. And one in particular, with a “No one died when Clinton lied” button on, screamed at us, including about 10 ROTC students, who were in uniform — called them baby-killers, told us all that we had blood on our hands. Those of us not in uniform were told that we were sending our brothers and sisters to die — and the always creative one, that we were fighting a war for oil.
One professor asked us if we’d like to comment on the recent story about soldiers raping Iraqi children and women in Iraq. Another screamed at us to go to hell as she ran by our group. Actually, a couple reporters and journalists in the media later told us that we acted more adult than the professors did.
In undergrad, I was told what to think. And unfortunately, it wasn’t until I came to law school that I — beginning to learn how to think. And that’s unfortunate. Because, you know, as much as I enjoyed being an activist on campus, when it comes to education, students can’t always afford to fight the battles which their university is supposed to fight for them. We shouldn’t have to be the ones calling attention to the blatant lack of ideological diversity on campus.
So with that, I just want to conclude. And I also want to thank Mr. Horowitz and Gib Armstrong. As I said, Temple is the first university that has an academic freedom policy for the protection of all their students — conservative, liberal, whatever; whatever you happen to be. So I just want to publicly thank those two.
David Horowitz: Thank you, Logan.
Our next speaker is Matt Sanchez, who’s a corporal in the United States Marine Corps and a student at Columbia.
Matt Sanchez: Hi. Good morning.
When I was accepted to Columbia, I was really happy. It’s an Ivy League school. And growing up as a kid from a wrong side of the tracks in California, I was really impressed with the fact that they’d even let me into the school. I didn’t realize what was in store for me. I’ve learned a lot studying at Columbia. And a lot of it hasn’t been from the classroom.
On Activities Day a year ago, there was about 200 — actually, nearly 600 people out on the campus, and about 70 different clubs. I was visiting a table that’s called The Hamilton Club. The Hamilton Club deals with ROTC, and some people who like to study military history. And I’m not even a member, but I do know people at the table. We were talking, when this group came up, the ISO. I don’t know if you have an ISO on your campus. It’s International Socialist Organization.
They decided that they didn’t want the military on campus. Now I’m not sure why they identified me as military. I was dressed as a civilian completely. I’m a reservist, by the way. So that means that I’m — I do my duty one time a month. And they really zeroed in on me, and started screaming and shouting, “Military off campus! Military off campus!”
So I looked at them, said, “Hello. How are you? Would you like to join — would you like to join the Hamilton Society?” I was standing on the other side of the table. They said, “The miliary, the military, you’re all baby-killers.” I’ve heard that one before. Gets really boring and tired. But they’ve —
Unidentified Audience Member: [inaudible]
Matt Sanchez: We’ve heard — a long time, thanks. It’s something you hear all the time, and it’s been said on campus since the ‘60s. It’s something Columbia University’s actually quite proud about — 1968 and throwing the military off campus.
They said that minorities are being exploited by the military. Now that was curious. Because I’m a minority; my parents are from Puerto Rico. The other person behind the table was a Korean American. There was a Chinese American and a Mexican American. The people screaming and shouting were all non-minorities.
I said, “Look, I joined the military. I joined the Marine Corps, and I did so willingly. And I’m proud to serve.” Their answer [was], “That’s because you’re too stupid. You’re too stupid to understand that you’re being used as cannon fodder by the military complex.”
Now, at this point, they had pretty much everyone’s attention. That was — that’s their deal; I mean, something that they really like to do. They like to draw attention to themselves. This is a group that has a table, come rain or shine, in the middle of campus. And they hand out this little piece of paper. They usually sell it for a buck, which is interesting for a socialist organization.
In fact, one time they offered me a paper, “The Worker.” And they said, “Well, we’re asking a dollar for this.” And I said, “Why a dollar? Aren’t you socialists?” They said, “Yes, but the printer isn’t.” I said, “That should be your first clue.”
After that, that day, just really being embarrassed in front of everyone on campus, I decided really not to touch this group. Because there’s really no way of engaging them. I mean, they really scream at the top of their lungs. And just engaging them just makes things worse. So I went right to the administration. And that was the beginning of all my problems.
The first comments I got back from the administration was, “Well, what did you do to incite them? Were you wearing anything military-like? Were you talking about the military? Were you passing out any military literature? Were you presenting yourself in a militaristic fashion?” I responded with no fewer than 20 to 25 meetings; wrote many petitions, went back and forth.
And in the meantime, the ISO decided that they wanted to protest me personally. So what they did is they took a picture of me, blew it up; took a picture of a dead Iraqi kid, blew that up; and took a picture of a homeless veteran. And they decided to parade in front of the university, holding up these signs and handing out fliers.
So I complained of harassment; filed an official complaint. The administration said that they weren’t on campus. They were, in fact, in front of the campus, so that there was nothing they could do. Fine.
The next day, that same protest was actually on campus. I filed another protest. And the administration claimed that it would take another seven-day period before I could file a consequent protest. There’s really no way to win when we talk about things like military bias, and how to prove these things.
We had a marine who was stationed in Fallujah. Now this is an officer whose job it is to find IEDs. I got a letter from him, from Fallujah. And he asked if I could help him with a problem he was having with his tuition. Apparently, he had deployed, which was all very legal — you deploy and you get to drop your classes, and they can’t charge you for them. But apparently he had been charged for the whole year in tuition. So there was an outstanding charge on his bill.
His dean unfortunately didn’t want to work with him. And I — it’s something, again, that you can’t really prove, except for the fact that it was a really simple matter. Somebody just needed to sign off that this man was indeed not at Columbia, and come back, and get another signature. In the end, it didn’t happen. It really took several members of our club, Military Veterans at Columbia, to get this done.
Since then, I went — I took this public. And takes a lot of energy to do something like this. You do a lot of talking, you do a lot of repeating your stories; a lot of writing. And what I learned was, people want to take action. So since then, I’ve begun a campaign to bring more veterans to Columbia University. And so far it seems to be working out.
Also, a last note, last year, after — as a result of this incident, they changed the bias categories to include veterans.
Thank you very much.
David Horowitz: Our next speaker is Jason Walter. He’s an Iraq war veteran who is at Bloomsburg University in Pennsylvania.
Jason Walter: Thank you.
I was asked here today to tell you about two stories. One is when I came back. And the other is when David came to our campus, and the repercussions that myself and two other students had to bear because of him coming to the campus.
When I got back from Iraq — I’m a political science student. And I had a class with a professor there who, when I had weekend drills, would count those attendances against me. The Friday I’d have to leave because my drill was in Maryland, and we, of course, are in Pennsylvania. Well, it takes four hours to get to my drill from the university. So I’d have to leave at around noon, because I had to be there at 5:00.
So I would leave at noon, and her class was conveniently at 2:00 in the afternoon. So I would get docked points for Friday and Monday, and she would never allow me to either turn my assignments in early or to turn my assignments in late.
So consequently, by the end of this semester with me fighting with her over these absences, I ended up with a D and almost failing the class. So now I have to take the class over again. And it is a required class for the major. So if I choose not to take it, I will never graduate. So I’m left with kind of a big predicament there.
And this is the same professor that, in her classroom, will say, “Oh, the President — did you see the President lowered gas prices again? They’re trying to get the Republicans reelected.” Well, these type of comments — I mean, we have no control over anything that OPEC does. I mean, the United States isn’t an OPEC nation. So she uses these type of things in class to basically sway people’s opinions. And she doesn’t really allow you to think. And if you try to think on your own, then it’s penalized, especially if you’re in the military.
Once David came to the campus, he invited the College Republicans out to dinner. So we all went out to dinner with him. And we sat around. It was just, you know, a little leisurely dinner, where we would tell him about the complaints, and things that have happening to us on campus.
Well, three of us in particular spoke out about the same professor. And so when David went and met with the president of the university after his debate with Dr. Kurt Smith, he told the professor of the university, Dr. Kozloff, that this one professor was a problem.
Well, this got back to us, and we were asked to come to a meeting. And we weren’t officially summoned to the meeting; we were told that we must be there by our advisor. And our advisor came to us and told us, “Hey, you know, you need to come to this meeting, you need to come to this meeting.”
Well, we get there, and of course we all dressed in suits, because we thought it was a formal meeting. And the two professors that brought this meeting to everybody’s attention and made such a big stink about this came in sweat suits and a sweatshirt.
And so, we started the meeting. And the very first words that came out of the one professor’s mouth was, “The purpose of this meeting is to discuss the events of the night that David Horowitz came here and you ate dinner with him, and to press charges against academic integrity on you three students for lying.”
So we basically were faced up against the wall right away. And when you walk into a meeting and somebody says that, that kind of immediately starts you off on the bad foot in the meeting and kind of scares you to death.
So we went through the entire meeting. And after the meeting was almost done, the Dean of the Liberal Arts Department, Dr. George Agbango, came in and adjourned the meeting. And he told them — he told both Professor Zolli and Professor Smith that the meeting should have never taken place and was totally out of line.
Well, we have the dean’s class on Wednesdays. It was African Political Systems. He held the three of us after class and officially apologized from the university to us for that ever happening. So the attempted ambush by the two liberal professors was, in the end, halted only because we made such a big stink about it. And without David’s help, that would have never happened.
So thank you very much.
David Horowitz: Thank you, Jason.
Actually, the College Republicans invited me to dinner. And it was Jason who — Jason called me when they were summoned to this meeting. And without coordinating this, I fired off letters to Dean Agbango and to the president of the university, which I suspect had something to do with their response. But Jason also took it upon himself to visit Dean Agbango and tell him what was going on.
So what that — what this story shows is that there is still, in the university, a consensus about fairness. It’s just getting the machinery engaged to defend the students. That’s the problem now. And that’s what our agenda really is — it’s to — by getting these student bills of rights at universities, and by raising awareness of this problem — which is what this conference is doing, and every agitation that we conduct is doing — FrontPage Magazine has publicized all of this — that we will finally wake up the conscience of the university. It will remain in liberal hands. But if it’s fair, you know, it’s not a bad educational experience for our students to have to test themselves against oppositional ideas. But that’s provided that it’s fair and professional.
Our final speaker is Ruth Malhotra, who is a student at Georgia Tech.
Ruth Malhotra: [Thank] you so much. It’s great to see you all this morning. And I just actually found out that I was on the panel a few minutes before. So I’ll do my best to, you know, tell my story, and condense and hit the high points — or, I guess, you’d call it the low points.
But again, it’s great to see you all. And I really, you know, appreciated everyone up here sharing their stories and, you know, just really demonstrating, you know, what it is that we’re dealing with in this fight that we’re in.
And in many ways, I’ve been fighting this battle for a long time. I know David Horowitz has been fighting for me for the past several years. I know a few years ago, I came to CPAC. First day of class, professor threatened to fail me if I came to the Conservative Political Action Conference. She actually ended up following through on that.
Following that, you know, years of my speech being censored, protests being shut down by campus police — one thing after another — issues of censorship, and the institute really pushing an unbalanced agenda. And, you know, after a long time of, you know, trying to fight these things internally, you know, like many of these students did, the situation only got worse. And realized — myself and another student, Orit Sklar, who’s here with me from Georgia Tech — realized that the only way to effectively confront these problems was to file a federal civil rights lawsuit in court and demand that these unconstitutional policies be repealed.
And — yes. We ended up doing that in March, March 16th. It’s been almost a year. It’s a free speech and religious liberty case, and we won the first part of it. We got our speech code repealed in August, which was a huge victory; it prohibited any speech that was considered “intolerant or offensive,” obviously very selectively and arbitrarily defined and enforced. But the rest of our case still moves on.
And, you know, when I — obviously many of us have chosen to express ourselves and our convictions, and to take on these issues and challenge them. And we expect — you know, we expect debate, and we expect opposition. But what I didn’t expect is just how extreme the reaction would be from the left and those who oppose us.
And started out with — there was a group formed on campus called CLAM — Conservatives and Liberals Against Malhotra. That was fun. They actually did a protest with Twinkies, handing out fliers and Twinkies, saying that I was yellow on the outside and white on the inside.
Most recently, on Valentine’s Day — actually, the day before Valentine’s Day — I received a rape threat from someone threatening to rape me on Valentine’s Day. And again, these are, you know, criminal activities, where they’re resorting to illegal. And of course, the administration has done nothing. And the — you know, the consensus seems to be, “Well, you asked for it.” You know, “She asked for it. And, you know, that’s what she gets.”
And, you know, like I said, you know, you expect opposition; you expect a good debate. You know, I would — you know, I love to engage in this debate on — you know, when it comes to free speech and religious liberty issues. But just in our situation and everything that, you know, I’ve personally encountered over the past several months, really been thinking about what does this demonstrate? What does this demonstrate about the fight that we’re in?
And I think the first thing, as I mentioned earlier, is it demonstrates how extreme our opposition can be. This is what we’re up against. I mean, from, you know — I mentioned, you know, the instance where I failed my class a few years ago. I know there were some other references to similar instances. But just from there, I mean — just when you think it can’t get any worse, I mean, it does.
And I keep thinking things are going to get better. But, you know, in recent months and weeks, these threats have only intensified. And the people who oppose us will really stop at nothing. I mean, we’re college kids up here. You know, we are in school, on campus, to learn and to get our degree; to engage in debate, to express our ideas, to be out there with College Republicans; you know, recruiting people, spreading our — just spreading ideas and, you know, having a good time doing it.
And for them to give us — I sometimes joke with people — I say that, you know, people who oppose us, I think, give us too much blame. And then people here — sometimes I feel like, you know, give me too much credit.
At the end of the day, you know, we’re college students, obviously on campus with a purpose. But the left, and people who oppose our ideas and what we stand for, really, you know, will stop at nothing. And I think that — I mean, that’s been obviously demonstrated very clearly to me in recent months.
I think another thing that it demonstrates is the fact that as challenging as these things are, we are winning this fight. And the left is growing increasingly threatened that, you know, their stronghold is being challenged, and they are losing ground. And because we win and will continue to win, you know, they are — they’re scared. And I think that should serve to encourage us, you know, that they’re going to do whatever they can to try to thwart our effectiveness. But, you know, we can’t let that happen.
And finally, I think perhaps what this demonstrates most clearly to me — and something that I’ve really tried to hold onto, and remind myself of every day — is that we cannot afford to give up. It’s hard; it’s a tough fight. Yes, there’s great things about it. It’s very rewarding. And we — you know, many of us have had very rewarding experiences as a result of the stands we’ve taken. But at the end of the day, it’s tough, and it’s hard work. And you’re out there day in and day out on campus.
But one of my favorite Scripture versus from the Bible is from the Book of Galatians. It’s Galatians 6:9. And it says, “Let us not grow weary in doing good, because in due season we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” And it’s so easy on campus to grow weary and to give up, and to want to do that, but we can’t afford to. Because if we stick with it, we will reap a harvest. And it will be worth it.
So thank you all so much.
David Horowitz: Thank you.
I’ve been notified by two different people that I failed in my headcount. I was looking down there, and I missed Brad Alexander, who is a student at — you at the University of Georgia — at the University of Georgia, and whose case we took up quite a few years ago.
Bradley, go ahead.
Bradley Alexander: Yes, I’d like to start by saying — and thanking Mr. Horowitz and SAF for inviting me to this very important event.
I’d also like to start by saying that while my testimony isn’t as dramatic as some of the rest, I think it’s more typical of what happens probably every day, at least at University of Georgia and the State of Georgia on our campuses.
When I was a sophomore, I was a history major, which is no longer the case. I signed up for a class that sounded very interesting — it was “History of the World Wars,” with a professor who was supposed to be an expert on the subject — or is an expert on the subject.
But when I got to the class, I really had no prior knowledge of him at all, which has been charged. But instead of being introduced to the course on the Word Wars, I was given a 75-minute screed against the Bush Administration, and an explanation of why George Bush and Dick Cheney are historically “chickenshit.” That’s right. From there, he, you know, gave the usual spiel about how Iraq is simply a venture to profit — build profit for oilmen, and that sort of thing.
I mean, it was really the most unbelievable experience I’ve had at the university — it was surreal — that a man — a tenured professor, a full professor, who’s supposedly an academic expert on the World Wars — could be so one-sided and poisonous in his speech.
For instance, he charged that Saddam Hussein never had weapons of mass destruction at all. You know, I’m not an expert like he is, but I challenged him. I thought, you know, that’s certainly incorrect. And he interjected in the middle of my comment. He said, “Well, that’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard.” He said, “We kill innocent people all the time. And it’s people like you who are at fault.”
I just — I couldn’t believe it. I really kind of brushed it off at first. And I was later — about two weeks later — introduced to Students for Academic Freedom and asked to write an article for FrontPage Magazine, which was a short summary of what happened. I didn’t have any notes, so I had to recall from memory what took place. But it was really quite unbelievable.
He even described about how if we told the administration about what happened that he would have the dean fired, or that he had had the dean fired, and that, quote-unquote, if he saw him in the hall, “His ass is mine.”
This went on for the entire class period and actually continued after class. Everyone was shocked. No one challenged him but me. I thought it probably expedient to drop the course — which you can do within the first week with no penalty at UGA — and pick up another one. I didn’t see any reason to put my GPA in the hands of such an irresponsible man.
But after the article came out, I was summoned to the Office of Legal Affairs, where they were very interested in what I had to say, since it became public. It was very productive, the interview with an attorney named Beth Bailey, until the end, where I was walking out, and she said tersely, “Well, I feel sorry for you. But this Horowitz character obviously has an agenda.” I looked at her, and I said, “You can’t possibly be serious.” And I just walked out.
I was later told by an acquaintance — who I met through the experience, who was in the class — that from then on out, for two weeks straight, Dr. Morrow, who was the teacher of the course, described the “tactics” I used as similar to those used by the Ku Klux Klan. He happened to be black American. Just really unbelievable.
But I’ve since changed my major to political science and newspaper, since every history professor actually signed a petition coming out against me, which is totally absurd. And Professor Morrow actually hired a lawyer, as if, you know, I was actually threatening him and the university was going to take action, which they never did. They talked to him about his profanity, but totally swept the issue of academic freedom under the table.
I think this dismissive attitude towards academic freedom definitely harms conservative and liberal students, but maybe liberal students more than conservatives. If you’re at UGA, the conservative activists and liberal activists have totally different perspectives. The liberal students are encouraged by this dismissive attitude towards academic freedom, towards slavish conformity, in a total disregard for facts and for argument; while the conservatives are challenged to actually establish their arguments and read and write on their subjects.
Actually, I edit a conservative magazine at UGA. And it was stolen — it’s been stolen many times. But the campus paper, which is very liberal — their editorial page said that it may be politically justifiable to steal our paper, since we’re intolerant and inflammatory. It’s really — it’s the kind of thing that happens every week in some shape or form at UGA. It’s discouraging for students — like me especially, for a College Republican — to — or comprise a large majority of students who are conservative and are attacked like this in the classroom.
I’ve had students — I started Students for Academic Freedom shortly after this at UGA. And since then, I’ve been approached by students who want to voice their opinion but are scared to actually put their name forward. Because they’re going to have to change their major, like I did.
It’s impossible to be in an art class without going through something similar to what I did in Dr. Morrow’s history course. But most conservative students simply take it and move on. Because it’s not worth it. It’s not worth — they don’t think it’s worth it to stand up to the liberal academics the way Ruth has. And it’s obviously taken a toll on those who have.
But again, I’d like to thank Mr. Horowitz for what he does, and SAF for inviting me. Thank you very much.
David Horowitz: Thank you.
If one were to do a book on students like this, one would have to call it “Courage Under Fire.”
One of the perversities of our times is that people whose fundamental instinct is totalitarian are called liberals. I can’t — these are horrific stories that you just heard — the idea that when a student is subjected to the kind of treatment that you just heard from Bradley, they would be hauled in before the Legal Affairs person in the school, or that an entire department — people often accuse me of cherry-picking and exaggerating. You have a whole history department defend reprehensible, unprofessional behavior like Professor Morrow’s in a classroom, you know you have a very, very big problem. This is not just an isolated few.