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Intellectual Freedom Gains Ground in Georgia By: AccessNorthGa.com
AccessNorthGA.com | Thursday, February 26, 2004

Saying colleges are dominated by liberal - sometimes Marxist - professors, supporters of a Senate resolution are calling for an Academic Bill of Rights to urge equality in political views on campus.

Senate President Pro-tem Eric Johnson, a Savannah Republican, sponsored the plan, which would not be binding but urge Georgia colleges and universities to welcome conservative faculty members and be more open to conservative students ideas in class.

We should be rewarding scholarship, not ideology, Johnson said. This isnt a problem at the University of California-Berkeley or Harvard; its a problem here in Georgia.

The resolution mirrors one introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Rep. Jack Kingston, also a Republican from Savannah.

University officials and professor groups have complained that such resolutions are a troubling effort by politicians to shape debate on campuses.

At a meeting of the Senate Higher Education Committee on Monday, a handful of students - many of them from campus College Republican groups - told the committee they had been singled out or embarrassed by professors because of their views.

Russell Mildner, a junior at Georgia State University, said one of his professors first words in class were I love Hillary Clinton.

Intellectual diversity is not only lacking, its being stifled, he said.

Conservative theorist David Horowitz - who stirred national controversy by buying ads in college newspapers arguing against reparations for slavery - also spoke.

The radicals are organized on the faculties, Horowitz said. These are people dedicated to the indoctrination of students.

This is a totalitarian mentality and it is pervasive in our universities.

The committee, which is controlled by Republicans, did not vote to send the bill to the full Senate on Monday, Members said they need time to perfect language in the resolution.

At least one member said he plans to vote against the plan.

Paranoia has set in, said Sen. Tim Golden, D-Valdosta, whose district includes Valdosta State University and is known as one of the legislatures most conservative Democrats. This has gone too far. This is absurd.

University System of Georgia officials say they take student complaints about mistreatment seriously, but believe the stories told by students at the meeting arent reflective of most of the systems 240,000 students.

I really dont think that reflects our relationships with students, said university system senior vice-chancellor Tom Daniel.

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