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A Step Forward for Academic Freedom By: Sara Dogan
FrontPageMagazine.com | Friday, May 14, 2004


I am thrilled to be able to announce a major step forward for the Academic Bill of Rights. At its Spring Task Force Summit in Austin, Texas the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), adopted both a model resolution and model statutory language based on the Academic Bill of Rights and agreed to work with Students for Academic Freedom to press for the adoption of this legislation in all fifty states.

ALEC is a bi-partisan body composed of over 2,400 state legislative officials from across the United States. Over 100 ALEC members hold senior leadership positions in their state legislatures, while hundreds more hold important committee leadership positions. The support of these legislators will be crucial to promoting the academic freedom campaign across the nation.

Containing language nearly identical to the Academic Bill of Rights, the model bill holds that students “have a right to expect a learning environment in which they will have access to a broad range of serious scholarly opinion pertaining to the subjects they study.”

The bill also echoes the guidelines on academic freedom which were first written nearly a century ago by the AAUP, stating that “Students have a right to expect that their academic freedom and the quality of their education will not be infringed by instructors who persistently introduce controversial matter into the classroom or coursework that has no relation to their subject of study and that serves no legitimate pedagogical purpose.”

If passed, this bill would require the governing board of each institution of higher education to “develop institutional guidelines and policies to protect academic freedom and the rights of students and faculty” and to “adopt a grievance procedure by which a student or faculty member may seek redress of grievance for an alleged violation of any of the rights specified” in the bill.

The full text of the model bill and model resolution can be found on our website.

We are grateful that ALEC’s members have recognized the importance of this legislation and expect that with the organization’s support the Academic Bill of Rights will be adopted by more than twenty states within the next year.

The past week brings exciting legislative news as well. Legislators in at least ten states are moving to introduce legislation based on the Academic Bill of Rights, including Missouri, Michigan, Oklahoma, Massachusetts, California, Utah, Washington and Ohio.

During a series of meetings in Washington last week, David Horowitz met with Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) who has agreed to sponsor a resolution based on the Academic Bill of Rights in the U.S. Senate in September. This legislation would accompany House Concurrent Resolution 318, introduced last fall by United States Congressman Jack Kingston (R-GA), which calls for colleges and universities to voluntarily end discrimination in hiring practices based on political or religious beliefs and to promote intellectual diversity on campus.

It’s been an incredibly successful week for Students for Academic Freedom. Make sure to check our website frequently for the latest news on all these emerging developments. For more information about our organization or on how to start a campus chapter, please contact me at sara@studentsforacademicfreedom.org or at 202-969-2467.


Sara Dogan is National Campus Director of Students for Academic Freedom.


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