Below we present three articles on academic bias from the Muncie (IN) Star-Press. The first two, both written by Seth Slabaugh, note the allegations of academic bias at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana - a story FrontPageMag.com broke. Following that is Gail Koch's piece on the American Association of University Professors' reaction. As FrontPage Magazine has shown, the AAUP is a leftist political lobby rather than an academic agency. The AAUP, which has defended accused terrorist fundraiser Sami al-Arian, naturally dismisses all such claims. We'll keep you informed as this story progresses. -- The Editors.
BSU urged to back political diversity
By SETH SLABAUGH
MUNCIE - David Horowitz hopes Ball State University will consider adopting an "Academic Bill of Rights" supporting political diversity in response to a student's complaint against professor George Wolfe.
Wolfe, who teaches a peace studies class, has said student Brett Mock's complaint misrepresents the class and contains numerous false allegations.
"This professor seems to tolerate only one view," Horowitz said in an interview. "It's very clear that students who [oppose] his views, which are rather extreme - violence is never justified, even in self-defense - but he's entitled to his extreme views - are punished grade-wise."
A second problem is that Wolfe recruits students to attend anti-war demonstrations, for which they receive extra credit, Horowitz claimed.
"The third problem with this whole program is that he's not qualified to teach such a course," Horowitz said. "He's a professor of the saxophone. If I were a parent of one of these students, or a taxpayer of the state, I'd be furious. What's the point of credentialing professors? It's kind of a consumer fraud."
The student's complaints, which Wolfe says are false, was published in Horowitz's FrontPage Magazine.com, a conservative online magazine.
Horowitz, an influential Republican strategist, last year founded Students for Academic Freedom, which critics say is promoting the "Academic Bill of Rights" to presssure state-funded schools to adopt affirmative action-like programs to hire conservative professors.
The 135 chapters of SAF have documented numerous cases of liberal professors "using the classroom to proselytize or vent their emotions" about the 2000 and 2004 elections, Horowitz said in an interview.
For example, professors of Spanish and math have launched into attacks on President George W. Bush. A professor of property law told students that the "R" in Republican stood for racist, and when a student objected, the professor said, "We have too many of you Nazis around," Horowitz said. "That would be like a professor calling Clinton a lecher or Kerry a traitor."
SAF opposes both liberal and conservative politicking in the classroom, Horowitz said.
"But the fact of the matter is, the overwhelming majority of professors are on the left, therefore the overhwelming majority of these cases seem to be against liberal professors," he said. "What this professor [Wolfe] did was just as wrong as if students who had pro-choice opinions on abortion were given low grades because the professor was pro-life. I'd be just as upset."
Horowitz added: "Professors should not be politicking in the classroom. Ball State University is not the Hannity and Colmes Show. It's an educational institution."
Horowitz's organizations are trying to move "Academic Bill of Rights" legislation in about 20 states, including Indiana, he said.
"My hope is that not only will the legislation be bi-partisan but be withdrawn when universities do the right thing," he said. "But I have spent enough time with university administrators to know they are not going to do it on their own. Their attitude is they don't have a problem."
Beverley Pitts, provost of Ball State University, finds it strange that Horowitz urges universities to do the right thing.
"We have a very complex system of opportunities for students to have grade appeals," Pitts said. "No student ever came forward about this [peace studies] class. In fact, the students who have come forward have countered Mr. Mock's statements and said those things didn't happen in class at all."
Pitts also said that "we wouldn't have him [Wolfe] teaching the class if we didn't believe he was qualified, and I think his credentials indicate that he is qualified."
Besides being a music professor, Wolfe is director of the Center for Peace and Conflict Studies at Ball State. He was trained to conduct interfaith dialogue and peace building through All Faith Seminary International in New York City. He earned a doctorate in higher education (not music) from Indiana University. He also has received mediator training and serves on the advisory board of the Toda Institute for Peace, Policy and Global Research at the University of Hawaii. He has spoken at Elon University on Gandhian philosophy and taught a class on non-violence in American at Chautauqua Institution in New York. His article Inner Space as Sacred Space, the Temple as metaphor for the Mystical Experience, was published in 2002 in the New York journal Cross Currents.
How Colorado Addressed Liberal Bias
To resolve concerns of liberal bias brought by David Horowitz, the presidents of the University of Colorado, Colorado State University, Metropolitan State College of Denver and University of Northern Colorado agreed to a memorandum of understanding with state Rep. Shawn Mitchell.
Excerpts of what the presidents agreed to:
- No student should be penalized because of political opinions that differ from a professor's. Every student should be comfortable in the right to listen critically, and challenge a professor's opinions.
- Each institution will review its students rights and campus grievance procedures to ensure that political diversity is explicitly recognized and protected.
- Each institution will ensure those rights are adequately publicized to students.
- Each institution will work with student leadership to ensure that the use of student activity fees meets standards articulated by the U.S. Supreme Court for an open forum that is fair to all viewpoints.
- We will have future discussions to share ideas and perspectives on a range of issues to ensure the campus environment is open and inviting to students of all political viewpoints.
Students complain of liberal bias on campusBy SETH SLABAUGH
MUNCIE - Posters arose recently on the Ball State University campus announcing that history professor Abel Alves was "WANTED." His alleged offenses include indoctrinating freshmen with liberal books, such as Fast Food Nation, and guest lectures by the Humane Society.
Professor George Wolfe, who teaches peace and conflict resolution, was recently the subject of an article in the national online journal FrontPage Magazine. It accused Wolfe of giving students extra credit for going to Washington to protest the war in Iraq and lowering the grade of a student who argued in favor of a military response to the Sept. 11 attacks.
The professors dispute the allegations, which were made by two conservative students - Brett Mock and Amanda Carpenter, both seniors and members of the debate team.
The two students are supporters of a national campaign led by David Horowitz to expose left-wing political bias on university campuses through organizations including Students for Academic Freedom, the Center for the Study of Popular Culture and FrontPage Magazine. Horowitz's theme has been, "You can't get a good education if they're only telling you half the story."
Among numerous complaints being investigated by Horowitz's organizations throughout the country are the one against Wolfe and one against an Indiana University professor who, in a class on the history of rock and roll, allegedly bashed the war in Iraq and made derogatory remarks about Rush Limbaugh and his addiction to prescription pain killers.
Horowitz was once an influential backer of the New Left and Black Panther movements who evolved into a leading conservative activist. He authored a pamphlet titled, The Art of Political War: How Republicans Can Fight to Win. Karl Rove, senior adviser to President Bush, endorsed the pamphlet, which was given to all GOP congressional candidates before the 2000 elections.
Carpenter is the daughter of a nurse from the Flint, Mich., area, who plans to study law or journalism after receiving her undergraduate degree from Ball State in communication studies. Her minor is campaign communications.
She put up the "WANTED" posters of Alves to attract attention to her website, www.bsYOU.net.
Carpenter complains that Ball State's freshman reader, Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal, is extremely politically slanted to the left, as was last year's reader, Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America. Its author, Barbara Ehrenreich, is an honorary chair of Democratic Socialists of America, Carpenter points out.
When you combine Fast Food Nation with this fall's lineup of guest speakers who will address BSU freshmen, "that's indoctrination, not education," Carpenter says. The list of speakers includes Mylan Engel Jr., a Northern Illinois University philosopher who argues that eating meat is immoral; local organic farmers Dave and Sara Ring; Rodney Walker, a former worker at Seldom Rest hog farm who blew the whistle on alleged environmental violations and animal abuse at the farm; and Chris Bedford, a national campaign coordinator for The Humane Society of the United States.
It's obvious that this year's "Freshman Connections" program has an "anti-agriculture, "anti-corporation," "anti-capitalist" and "pro-government regulation" agenda, Carpenter says.
"I just want to see speakers from the other side come in, and maybe supplemental essays given to students presenting both sides of the argument," Carpenter said in an interview. For example, she says, why weren't any representatives of so-called factory farms brought to campus to tell students about all the regulations and inspections of their farms?
Carpenter notes that Alves and his wife, Carol Blakney, are animal rights/environmental activists who were convicted by a jury this year of trespassing on Seldom Rest farm. Alves was instrumental in bringing Walker and Bedford to speak to freshmen on campus.
After hanging up Alves "WANTED" posters, Carpenter says she was threatened with legal action. "I've talked to lawyers about it, and feel pretty confident that I'm OK," she said.
Bedford, of the Humane Society, accuses Carpenter of conducting a "hate campaign" against Alves. He says he has offered to debate Seldom Rest's owner, Kaye Whitehead, Carpenter, or "any other representative of the industrial hog industry" on campus but has not received a response.
A graduate student who disapproves of Carpenter's Web site fought back by super-imposing Carpenter's face on pornographic pictures and posting them on a local Web site, she reports. In addition, fellow conservative student Mock's picture was digitally altered to add a Hitler mustache and a swastika.
Carpenter says it's probably too late to add balanced speakers such as Whitehead to the Freshman Connections lineup this year. So to resolve her complaint, she is suggesting that the university purchase pork from Seldom Rest, a confined animal feeding operation, and serve it, along with locally grown organic produce, to freshmen at one of the speaking events.
That would be "some kind of way of making amends" and "a good way for everybody to come together," Carpenter said.
Mock, the son of a truck driver and a nurse from Columbia City, plans to start a Ball State chapter of Students for Academic Freedom.
He says professor Wolfe "has no acceptance of any ideology outside of the extreme pacifist ideology he imposed on students in such a way that, if I disagree...and wanted to express an opinion, when I wrote my opinion in articles I was docked points because he thought I didn't understand the pacifist, Ghandian philosophy."
Students for Academic Freedom has been mistaken as a partisan organization that is concerned only about liberal indoctrination, Mock said. The organization actually opposes any indoctrination, including conservative, religious, gender and racial bias in the classroom, he said.
'There are no sides'
Activities related to Fast Food Nation are only part of the Freshman Connections program, says Melinda Messineo, assistant director of the program and an assistant professor of sociology. And for those activities that are linked to the book, the primary focus of speakers and presentations is health and wellness.
"In terms of presenting multiple sides, the phrasing is awkward because there are not 'sides' per se in the way that this theme is being framed," Messineo said in an electronic interview. "We are generally focusing on health and wellness so the other side is difficult to pinpoint, since no one is advocating that we work to decrease our health knowledge or efforts at wellness."
According to Provost Beverly Pitts, Carpenter might not have all the information about all the Freshman Connections speaking activities. "They've contacted a number of farmers [about speaking]," Pitts said. "The problem they are having is, they are busy harvesting."
Mock's assertion that students received extra credit for a university-sponsored trip to Washington to protest the war in Iraq is incorrect, the provost said. Rather, three students in Wolfe's class chose to attend a lobbying workshop in Washington.
Pitts also said grading was based on performance, not student or faculty opinion.
"I can assure you that we uphold this standard in all of our courses and we have in place a grade appeal procedure for any student who thinks his or her grade was unfairly determined," Pitts wrote in a letter.
About 3,500 freshmen were asked to read Fast Food Nation, so it should come as no surprise that at least one or two might disagree with things in it, said Paul Ranieri, associate professor and director of Freshman Connections.
"This is an attempt to have students think deeply about issues," he said. "That is the intention, to generate interest, conversation, intellectual discussion and feedback. That's what we strive to do."
AAUP blasts students' bias complaints
By GAIL KOCH
MUNCIE - Recent charges of liberal bias made by two conservative Ball State University students prompted the university's chapter of American Association of University Professors to issue a statement Monday critical of the students' efforts.
A release posted on the local AAUP chapter's Web site, www.aaupatbsu.org, stated:
"A student group organized by longtime campus activist David Horowitz has been attacking professors on the Ball State campus for their liberal political leanings. The professors have been personally libeled on Web sites and one professor had his visage placed on a mock wanted poster. These tactics are unacceptable in the academy and do not represent academic freedom."
Joe Losco, political science chair and president of Ball State's AAUP, said there are better ways for students to handle issues they have with their professors than by "assailing their character."
He points to departmental proceedings, in which a committee may be called upon to gather testimony from both sides, as one example.
"There's a process of appeals for this that goes all the way up to the president," Losco explained.
Losco said he worries the current approach of Horowitz supporters such as students Amanda Carpenter and Brett Mock - the two who made the recent liberal attacks against professors George Wolfe and Abel Alves - are the kinds of tactics "that could ruin the reputation of faculty members and might potentially keep them from gaining tenure."
In an article published in Monday's Star Press, Horowitz, a conservative strategist who leads a national campaign to expose left-wing bias in higher education, denounced Carpenter for posting a "WANTED" poster of Alves that accused the history professor of indoctrinating students among other serious charges.
"This...this is the kind of thing that is reminiscent of something that would take place in the McCarthy era or the period of the John Birch Society in the '50s and '60s," Losco said of the incident.
The political science professor condemns Horowitz's push for Ball State to adopt an "Academic Bill of Rights," in response to the complaints made against Wolfe, who teaches a peace studies class.
Losco worries that, if such a declaration were to be accepted, academic freedom as it is known at Ball State would suffer.
"It would put a chill in the academic community," he said. "There would be issues now that faculty may be afraid to discuss."
Mark F. Smith, director of government relations with the national AAUP, said complaints about political bias in the classroom vented by groups such as Horowitz's Students for Academic Freedom are not uncommon during such a heated election year.
With that being said, Smith added, he does not believe that most students are being denied access to a wide variety of viewpoints in the classroom.
"I think students out there are being exposed to conservative viewpoints," he said. "I don't think this is an issue of them being deprived."
Excerpt from AAUP repsonse
Below is an excerpt from Ball State University's AAUP response to recent attacks of liberal bias made by two conservative students:
"If these watchdogs have their way, a professor of classics, history, ethics, or even museum administration could make no reference to the Iraq conflict or to George Bush - in their courses on the Roman Empire, colonialism, the morality of war, or trade in the artifacts of ancient civilizations - because the "subject" of these courses is not this war or this president ..."
"Neither Abel Alves nor George Wolfe has abused their positions. In each case, the charges made by students at their Website and in the press are both scurrilous and dangerous. The professors and students attending their classes give ample testimony that classroom experiences provided students with a variety of opportunities to express their views. There is no evidence that student grades suffered as a result of contrasting personal or political philosophies."