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Colorado Academic Showdown Cont. II By: Frontpagemag.com
FrontPageMagazine.com | Friday, February 06, 2004


SENATOR ANDREWS:  Thank you.  The next one please.

TAMARA LOUDEN:  Hi, my name is Tamara Louden and I am Flux Neo’s wife, who was first identified as Tamara Neo.  I don’t have much to say.  I kind of put all of my thoughts and my examples specifically in my written testimony.  I am 7-1/2 months pregnant and I do not really have an interest in seeing my blood pressure go up here today too much.  In a nutshell, I think that there is a problem within the Law School.  It is far more subtle than it is in the campus at large within the law school it is something about the in-depth legal arguments from the conservative side, just simply are not given. Not to say that there aren’t any conservative side arguments given that the more subtle ones that will turn a Supreme Court case one way or another aren’t discussed, the faculty is overwhelmingly liberal and it is evident in classes, just by the material presented, how it’s presented and the last thing that I want to say about going to the administration for help.  In my testimony, I cite a specific examples that involved my husband and myself, and we were basically told to just forget about it and go home.  It did not deal directly with academic bias but it did deal bias and that was the second experience I have had going to the administration and I found that when your view point is not of the majority’s, it’s too much of a hot potato for them to want to delve into.

SENATOR ANDREWS:  Make sure that we have a copy of the written testimonies so it could be provided to all committee members.  Thank you very much, Tamara.  Mr. Polk.

STEVEN POLK:  My name is Steven Polk and I am a student at the University of Colorado at Denver.  I am presently with Students Taking Actions, we are a student group with quite a few members and we’ve been passing a petition around concerning issues of funding, but um, it was mentioned earlier, about the hiring practices of professors and also the speakers coming to campus.  I too, have tried to get speakers to come to campus.  And what I have been told as of lately that there is just not enough money. And the hiring practices, there was not any specific, no information as to how many liberal professors as there are to conservative professors on campus, but there are (unintelligible) it is definitely endemic to (unintelligible) and the number to get their PhDs.  And as far as the hiring practices going on, I’m not even aware of such hiring practices considering fiscal state of higher education.  We ranked last in the 26% reduction of higher education which was felt statewide…$100 million at UCD.

SENATOR ANDREWS: And yet the fact remains that there is still a very substantial fact, at each of these institutions, and there is a constant need to fill up vacancies and it maybe relatively leaner than it was, it is leaner.  The fact remains that hiring is still going on, so I think you are making kind of a non sequitir there.

STEVEN POLK: Well, I’m…again, the ratio of liberal professors to conservative professors…

SENATOR ANDREWS: You’re saying that overall universe from which to hire would be dominated by those with a liberal point view and so it is not surprising that that’s the sample that ends up at a particular institution. 

STEVEN POLK:  Exactly.

SENATOR ANDREWS: Okay.

STEVEN POLK:  And also if there is to be real change, I mean (unintelligible) set –up and verify private institutions who would hire conservative students such as the students for academic freedom to go into higher education.  Let’s stop the political bickering, and let’s set out looking for some more solutions. 

SENATOR ANDREWS:  I hope I can start the suggestion.  It will all come back to (unintelligible)

SENATOR PHILIPS:  This might go to both Steven and Kirk just to get  kind of an input on speakers, that kind of thing.  What is the basic process?  What are the kind of things that are considered in, not so much the selecting, I don’t know…  What is the process.? How do you identify who gets what, and in particular if, it does not matter right or left, I don’t know, wouldn’t in the middle but if the speaker is controversial about greater security concerns that may cause greater expense or something like that.  I guess Kurt co-directed that.

KIRK HAMM:  I cant speak to any other campus besides Boulder, but because of the student union and the amount of money it has, it has a very unique funding structure for speakers sponsored by the university or by the student union that come primarily from cultural events board, a student fee funded organization.  It is largely led by the speaker’s coordinator.  I served at that position for a year and because I have selected largely by what they can bring educationally to the campus.  Controversy is definitely considered if we can find a controversial event that will rile people up, that will get attendance, that is something we will do.   Security is a concern.

SENATOR ANDREWS   Oh yeah, Kirk, this place is the same way.  (Laughter)

STEVEN POLK:  If it’s going to be a very controversial event, I’ll site Charlton Heston as a really good example.  We had to take two groups of protestors off, both Pro-Gun and Anti-Gun.  We had a lot of police there.  We had two arrests, but it filled up the auditorium, it had great press.  I think it did the university a good thing.  It got a lot debate on gun policy going.  It was a great thing.  That went through student union processes.  The student processes that normally are used to approve speakers however, failed with that particular speaker.  That had to be taken into the highest level of student government in order to bring that particular speaker in and it was a lot of debate simply because it was a conservative person that really a lot people did not agree with.  With student group projects such as the College Republicans that you have been hearing a lot today, their process is to apply for a grant at the universities and to see if that grant will be answered.

The policy on paper as Senator Andrews says is to respect all people’s viewpoints and as long as they can hold a good event, regardless of what they are saying, they should be approved for funding.  In practice, there is a lot of editing that goes on in what people approve of in what they are saying.  And it becomes more administratively difficult for the conservative group to push through their funding allocations than a liberal group.  In fact, as a CU administrator has responded when I voted in support of a conservative group.  She really called me to task for it and said and she could not believe I was voting to bring a conservative feminist to campus because sometimes, free speech must limited to protect the values of multi-culturalism and diversity, and that some conservative speakers should not be brought to campus and that their voices should silenced.  That is disturbing me.  That is how the funding process works at Boulder.

UNKNOWN SPEAKER:  I have had a similar experience in bringing an environmentalist to school.  I have talked to student services and I talked to student government.  My process was not as formal.  I did not make a written request and I was told off the bat that since it was such a hot issue, especially with on-going David Horowitz brew-ha-ha if-you-will, it was going to be, you know, this decision could be considered another controversy.  The noted the environmentalist was not only too expensive, that the student government and student census are willing to fund it, but not only was it too expensive but just the content of what she was going to say, was also in question.  I feel that David Horowitz’ Academic Bill of Rights, the attempt of the legislature to implement the Academic Bill of Rights is, you know, going to result in further instances where liberal or conservative radicals either/or is going to be, you know, very much looked down upon it in any campus. 

SENATOR ANDREWS: Let’s hear from Mr. Gabe Schwartz.

GABE SCHWARTZ: I would just like to thank this committee and thank the people that are sitting behind me.  These folks came out here, people that elect folks like you guys, because we are concerned about these issues, on both sides of it.  I am a graduate of the University of Colorado-Denver, Political Science, with a Minor Communications and I am now a third year law student at the University of Denver College of Law.  I am going to submit to you both hard evidence and oral testimony, instances of discrimination that has happened against me and some of my friends at the University of Colorado Denver and at DU law.  First, I would like to submit an article that was found in an op-ed piece in the Rocky Mountain News on October 3, 2003 written by three professors at Metro State, and I am going to submit to the committee… you guys can read it, make copies and so forth, but it does state that, yes, there is a bias in professors, and a gross bias.  The Rocky Mountain News put out a study in this year, that 94% of faculty of the liberal arts college at CU Boulder are Democrats, 94%! What does that tell you?  It is completely unbalanced.  Only one professor, only one professor that was willing to take part of the study at UNC, was a registered Republican.  One, out of the whole college!  Now there is something grossly wrong here, people.  The American Enterprise Institute in Spring 2003, said there is 32:1 ratio of Democrats to Republicans in our campuses in this state.  That’s not CU Boulder alone.  So obviously…

SENATOR ANDREWS:  Let me just interrupt and ask you this, Gabe, you are soon to complete law school, you’re almost contemporary to some of the talented young attorneys that staff the general assembly and that help us form legislation and I would give you the experiment, the hypothetical.  What if anything would you ask us to do in statute about party registrations of professors, because I do not want to get anywhere near that.  I do not see that their any legislative response to that all. 

GABE SCHWARTZ:  Allow me please.  There was a Senator with a blue blazer and he seemed to have left and I do not remember his name in my, and I ask forgiveness….

SENATOR ANDREWS:  Senator Philips.

GABE SCHWARTZ:  Senator Philips kind of stated earlier you know, why are we here and what we can do about it.  I am going to tell you what you can do about it.  You need to pass smart legislation that, that… not quota system like you said about, “well we have got 50% Democrats or 50% Republicans.  No.  We need to have more of a balanced approach, clearly there is an imbalance.  94% is an imbalance. 

So what we can do, and is get together with students, faculty and figure out a smart way on how to allow conservative voices and liberal voices to be heard openly and freely in our taxpaying institutions, higher education.  Let me give you a specific example that happened to me, while I was the founding chairman of the Auraria College Republicans while I was there.  Me and a buddy, we started doing Youth for Bush for 2000 and we went out on campus and had Bush, George W. signs and so forth, and the Director of Facilities came with the Police Chief and I could name names, but I guess I am not supposed to.  They threatened to arrest us and put us in jail, for expressing our first amendment, political speech rights.

SENATOR ANDREWS:  Did it had anything to do with the proper permits not having been obtained?

GABE SCHWARTZ: Absolutely not!

SENATOR ANDREWS: With the rules being violated? 

GABE SCHWARTZ:  No, not at all.  They just didn’t like what we had.  They just didn’t like that we had George W. signs on the campus.

SENATOR ANDREWS:  And we’ve asked others about grievance processes.  Did you and the others in your group try to bring this to the attention of the administration?

GABE SCHWARTZ:  You betcha.  I went to the Chancellor’s office.  I went to the Dean’s as well and we were allowed back on. 

SENATOR ANDREWS:  So the system worked in that case?

GABE SCHWARTZ:  Oh, but not after being threatened to be thrown in jail and we did have to leave campus and then get it fixed, and that should not be—whether your Howard Dean or George W. or anybody.  It just shouldn’t be.  This department has just a few bad apples and it ruining it for everybody.  There are great professors out there who are fair, who are balanced and who teach, and we learn from.  But there are a few bad apples that ruin it.  There is discrimination happening on our campuses and I think that if there is sexual discrimination or racist discrimination, you guys would be quick - and you have in past, passed legislation to stop that.  You guys needed to do the same for this.  Flyers at DU.  We have had flyers such as this which I will submit to you guys.  “Americans will always fight for liberty, 1778, 1943 and 2003.”  Great resistance from the dean of student affairs to post such a flyer in support of our troops who are fighting for our freedom and peoples freedom in Afghanistan and Iraq, which has proven successful in the recent days.  Other pieces, “Uncle Sam—I Want You for College Republicans”, “DU Law College Republicans.”  These flyers were eventually allowed against resistance.

SENATOR ANDREWS:  Wait a minute now, you’re talking about DU Law?

GABE SCHWARTZ: DU Law, which is not in your jurisdiction…

SENATOR ANDREWS: So that’s out of our purview.

GABE SCHWARTZ:  But, nevertheless, if you put pressure on them, it will happen.  If CU goes in a way so will DU, the market. 

SENATOR ANDREWS:  We need to try to wrap this thing up.  Does the committee have anything else to inquire to the committee and to the panel?  Gabe, thank you very much and thanks to each of you.  We have one more panel and I am sorry we are going past 12 noon, but I want to give those an opportunity to make their presentations, so we will ask Bergstrom, Daley, Vernon, I think Rob Lee has been added to this one and Kelly Maher.  …This is not all from one institution, it’s mostly CSU, I believe…. (pause)  Who would like to begin? Mark Daley, we’ll start with Mark.

MARK DALEY:  My name is Mark Daley.  I am doctoral student at the Department of Political Science at CSU.  Been here four-and-a-half years and maintain a B average and to use my PhD to teach at the University level; however, I have lost all faith, all confidence in CSU’s Political Science Doctoral Program and the ability to provide me with legitimate training.  I am testifying before you today because I have acquired first-hand verifiable evidence of academic bias and discrimination.  In my pursuit of a doctorate, I endured discrimination that qualifies as minor to extreme.  Here are few examples, and I will get to the more extreme as I proceed.  In spite of degrees in political science and environmental sciences I was required to take two additional semesters of courses before I would be considered for admittance into this program and please keep in mind this program was supposed to be combination of both.  I was rejected the first time for GRE scores, yet I would find out others with lower GRE scores were admitted.  I sought repeatedly but didn’t ever receive financial assistance.  I was never awarded benefits normally given to graduate students such as keys to the department’s mail room and computer lab or office space.  I did not expect a corner office with a mountain view, just a cubicle.  A faculty member on the Admissions Committee announced to one of its classes that he had voted against my admittance into the program.  There was a faculty-student meeting at a professor’s home to which I was not invited.  My admission…

SENATOR ANDREWS:  Mr. Daley, your written testimony has been provided to the committee, and in the interest time, let me ask what have you done about trying to grieve any this or have this rectified?

MARK DALEY:  Essentially, the testimony you have has been filed four times.  If you will permit me, just two minutes...

SENATOR ANDREWS: Yes.

MARK DALEY: I can show you how this went through and was wrapped up.  In my experience, the grading policies are the biggest component of bias.  Sometimes the syllabus, subsequent grading policies would never be distributed until several weeks after the course began.  Even then, clear standards were not given.  I completed my course work in 1999 and proceeded to preliminary examinations.  There were three of them, American Politics, Public Administration, and Environment Policy.  My American Politics exam was deemed a pass, although I must confess, I am not sure why, it was the worst of the three.  Public administration was deemed a failure.  I believe the grading on this exam was at a minimum, unprofessional.  On the initial dating of this exam, only two people graded the work; James Lester, who represents one-third of the sub-field was never given my exam and I have chosen to answer two questions he wrote. 

It was only after I appealed, that he would get it, and he deemed all of my answers passing.  But this was meaningless because the same professors who had deemed me a failure initially were included in the appeal.  My appeal of this exam included two professors, who had already deemed me a failure.  Further, the comments of these members, these faculty members contradicted each other.  Essentially I was left with not having any idea how to study for this exam.  I was very well prepared.  I was led to believe by them that my inner courses, my knowledge was far above average.  They labeled me a failure on the same material that graded me as far above average.  The more egregious one was the environmental politics and policy exam.  Let me begin with the obvious.  My professors not only put questions on this third exam that were identical to questions that I have already answered.

SENATOR ANDREWS:  Once again, I think if you can summarize for us because we have the detail in front of us here.  You’ve had the two minutes you asked for and in fairness to the others; and to help us get to the bottom line as far your feeling that the process has not work for you to grieve the ill treatment as you perceive it.

MARK DALEY:  I will just conclude with, it made it to desk of the graduate school dean, and this is what his conclusion was after four appeals.  The form, indicating passage or failure in the preliminary exam had never been filed with the graduate school.  So, technically there was no record.  After four appeals, no record of me taking the exam.  That is what he is telling me.

SENATOR ANDREWS:  Where are you in your efforts to obtain this degree?

MARK DALEY: That’s it, this is where I am.

SENATOR ANDREWS: You are hung up?

MARK DALEY:  There is not going to be a professor from Colorado State University that ever grades another sentence I write.

SENATOR ANDREWS: So that’s it?  Are you going to go somewhere else?

MARK DALEY:  I am looking out of state, yes.

SENATOR ANDREWS:  Thank you.  Representative Paccione.

REP. PACCIONE:  I would like to just respond to that answer.  Former assistant professor at CSU that…  often times the student’s work is done within the college before it goes to the graduate school.  That’s to support the student.  So a student who doesn’t pass tests within the college, those forms are kept within the college.  It’s when the student passes that we send it to graduate school.

MARK DALEY:  Then why did I appeal four times?

REP. PACCIONE:  The graduate school doesn’t receive the college’s…. it's red tape and bureaucracy, but the college keeps some of that within the college until the student passes and then it goes on to the graduate school.

SENATOR ANDREWS:  So that would explain why the document wasn’t on file. Let’s go to…

ERIN BERGSTROM:  I would like to comment on this, may I?

SENATOR ANDREWS:  Yes, go ahead.  Introduce yourself.

ERIN BERGSTROM:  My name is Erin Bergstrom.  I have been a college student for five years, and I am also the mother of college students.  I have a variety of perspectives on this and I am also very deeply concerned about this problem of bias and discrimination on our campuses.  I would like to just make a comment about the perspective of the students who are testifying today.  This is a difficult thing to do.  There is an imbalance of power here, they are putting themselves on the line, saying things that are representative of a lot of money, a lot of time, and a lot of suffering in some cases that we have gone through.  And we came here believing that we had a time set aside at least five minutes to be heard.  Now, I appreciate the time constraints and I appreciate that, you know, we are all tired and ready to have lunch; but you know, I would ask for the committee’s attention and for their respect. 

So, in summarizing the statement that I have prepared, I am not currently attending CSU, but I was a student there in the fall of 2001 during 9-11.  I could not help contrasting the rhetoric that we were hearing that from George W. Bush who I admire and who I find his rhetoric is inspiring, I contrasted that with the rhetoric that I was hearing in one of my classes in Speech, and it was a rhetoric in western though.  The professors seemed to consistently promote post-modernist idealists and despairs conservatives perspective.  The four different examples that I have are here.  Should I summarize them?

On September 26th, he said that, “the alliance on absolute truth, nearly always gets us in to trouble, such as the bomb, the holocaust, and war machines.”  He made these kinds of statements without qualifications, this wasn’t the only one.  Again, it was a pattern of things over the course of the semester.  On September 27th, he presented at a campus teaching, which apparently is common practice on campuses throughout the nation.  The topic was establishing contacts on the World Trade Center attacks.  It explored economic and other aspects of this conflict that to my knowledge, in the 11-1/2 hours, that the teaching went on, the students were not presented with any kind of mainstream conservative perspective.  This bias was also present when we discuss sexuality, and unfortunately we discussed it quite a bit. 

During the discussion about Greek culture, he said that sex between a man and a boy was not necessarily child abuse, that values are culturally based and cultures change.  His final lecture was about the Bodies of Knowledge, written by Dr. Karen Elizabeth Altman.  One of Altman’s theories is that rhetorical enlightenment could be gained through group sex.  Now, perhaps there is a place for this theory of study of discourse but I don’t think that place, is in a campus audience in a sophomore level class.  In my opinion, the professor was not sensitive to the needs of the students…. I’m gonna go offscript here…

I…One thing that has been talked about and I just want to make sure that all of you get it… is the radical imbalance of power between professors and his students.  When the professors are standing up there and consistently from the beginning day of class, promoting some kind of party line, whether if it is a preference for deviant sex or whether it seems like, you know, the liberal or conservative or whatever.  Students get it!  They understand what the professor is saying and normally, when we are talking about the average maturity level of an 18- to 20-year-old student.  They don’t want to buck that.  They listen, they take it in, they learn to play the game.  I was told by students, this type of thing over and over again.  And I don’t think that even though life is unfair and there is no such thing as an ideal experiment, that it should be something that we should deliberately be subjecting our students to.  I think that professors who believe that somehow freedom of speech gives them the right to take advantage, unfair advantage, of a student’s immaturity and trying to indoctrinate them in the way they think life should be.  I do not think that is what education should be all about.

SENATOR ANDREWS:  By now, you could anticipate the next question from me, or someone up here.  Did you make known your objections on a questionnaire at the end of the course?  Did you otherwise make known your concerns within the Department?  Did you to use the grievance process on this particular professor that you found objectionable?

ERIN BERGSTROM:  I consistently challenged him in class.  To his credit, he let me speak.  I also talked to him, caught him in the hallway after school.  We have discussions about it.  I did not get satisfaction for my complaints at the end of course.  I filed a four-page complaint with documentation with the Dean of the Department.  Basically, he said that he will put it in a file, in a drawer.  If enough complaints accumulated, then maybe they would do something about it.

SENATOR ANDREWS:  Alright.  Who would like to speak next, please.

JOSEPH MULCAHEY:  My name is Joseph Mulcahey. I was really at the end in the list and I appreciate the opportunity to come up here and speak to you as well.  I am the student director of external affairs from Mesa State College in Grand Junction, Colorado.  Mesa State, I think largely thanks to this committee and Senator Andrews, has taken steps to insure academic freedom on our campus.

SENATOR ANDREWS:  What year are you in college?

JOSEPH MULCAHEY:  I am senior, Political Science major.  First, to preempt any questions, the grievance process for Mesa State deals specifically with grades, not any political side or those sort of things.  So, realizing this, the administration as well as the faculty side and the student government created an ad-hoc committee consisting of three faculty senators and three students to essentially explore academic freedom on our campus.  First, the committee is going to define issue, exactly what we are talking about her.  Secondly, to find if there is a situation at Mesa’s campus.  Thirdly, create some sort of recommendation to the administration, to the faculty to determine what should be the best policy to go forth.  Also, what the students are looking at revising our student handbook to include aspects of the Academic Bill of Rights as well as revising our teacher evaluation forms to more accurately reflect political bias in the classroom.  So with that, I yield.

SENATOR ANDREWS:  Thank you.  Next?

ROBERT LEE:  Thank you.  This is kind of a impromptu speech on my part.  I am Robert Lee.  I am a senior at Colorado State University, I major in Political Science and my minor is in the criminal justice interdisciplinary certificate administered through the Department of Sociology.  A bit of another background on me, is I do serve as the state vice chairman for College Republicans, so, I would admit that myself, I do take a bias as a student in to a classroom. 

And a little bit more background about myself.  For four years, I competed on the debate team at CSU and if you know anything about the debate team, whether it be the community in general, it is extremely liberal.  Much more liberal than the classroom.  It is very overt, it’s not so subtle.  If you’re not liberal, people know it and people will challenge on it and people will threaten you on it.  I was threatened once during my career.

SENATOR ANDREWS:  Isn’t the essential idea of competitive debate that one is able to argue either side persuasively?

ROBERT LEE:  Well, I am just using it as a contrast to what I will be talking about… as a lead-in, and that is that the bias in the classroom is not so overt, it is very subtle and that is where the problem is.  And the problem therein lies in the subtlety of the bias.  I can attest to the fact that a bias does exist in the classroom, and I know this because I can recognize a liberal bias.  I think much more than any conservative, just because my experiences to the debate community and Joe is a colleague in the debate community of mine and could probably attest to this as well.  Numerous readings throughout my courses in modern political theory dealt with very radical left thinkers, like Michelle Pluto, who advocated violence against oppressors... physical violence against the oppressors, but no mention of more conservative radical thinkers or more conservative moderate thinkers in any way. 

The fact was that this modern political theory class was a very liberal bias.  Now I do tend to be very outspoken if I disagree with some things, so I will admit that in any of my classes where I saw bias, I was willing to pipe out about it, but not all students are.  In another class, in an Eastern European Politics class, my professor came in the day after elections 2002 and began a tirade about Governor Owens.  What he has to do with anything about Eastern European Politics, I do not know.  What the Tabor Amendment has anything to do with Eastern European Politics, I don’t know.  But she felt it necessary to speak for about 10 minutes at the beginning of class and for about another five to 10 minutes later on in that class.  Now, I did question her on it and we had a little jousting in class, but like I said, I think I am just very unique in the way that I am very verbose...

SENATOR ANDREWS:  Has this ever operated in your experience unfairly in a grade you have received or in your ill-treatment in terms of not being allowed to voice your thoughts freely in class?

ROBERT LEE:  I will say that in terms of grading, I do not think so.  I talked with Erin to a great extent about this, and I have sat down and thought about the biases that I probably experienced and it hasn’t necessarily been in grading.  I think it probably takes more of the fact that professors have maybe tried to discredit me in class with comments directed towards me and this professor in this Eastern European Politics class.  After sitting down and thinking about it for a very long time yesterday, probably attempted to do that, but the fact was that even in topics relating to Eastern European Politics, she always discussed Marxism and the good things about it.  But never talked about why these countries may have expressed or accepted free market principles.  It is a very, very pertinent topic to Eastern European Politics given the changes that have gone through that region of the world in the last 15 to 20 years.  But no mention about it whatsoever.  Unfortunately, I didn’t bring that up in class at that time.  Sitting back and looking at this, its just… it is extremely subtle and that is wherein the problem lies.  As Erin said, it is for professors to take advantage of their biases and take advantage of unsubtle biases on the part of younger students. 

I am not here to argue that there should be quotas or anything like that.  In fact, I like liberal professors expressing their opinions, but it is unfortunate that they do not express the opinions of opposing thinkers to them or accept students who oppose them in any way, and that is where the problem lies.  The fact that it is not a balanced education on their part.

SENATOR ANDREWS:  To get back to what Ms. Wiest was saying from the Metro faculty an hour or more ago.  You have good teaching or you don’t.  And I think you’re saying that based on your experience that this doesn’t measure up to good teaching. Senator Hagedorn.

SENATOR HAGEDORN:  Thank you Senator Andrews, I just want to find out and maybe you wanted to pause between here and you did not; but you mentioned, you ask a professor his opinion and then you said there immediately after that, he does not give other sides of the discussion.  Now, when a student of mine asked for my opinion, I preface it with, “you asked for my opinion, here is my opinion.”  I see no obligation as a faculty member to give the other side of the argument when a student has asked for my opinion and clarifying the fact before my response, “this is my opinion.”  So, if you ask me what my opinion is on an issue, you’re gonna get one opinion and I am not going to sit there and give you a multiple choice type of selection of opinions.  You asked for mine.  I don’t know if you forgot to pause there or not, but there is a discrepancy when you ask someone an opinion, you are asking for that faculty person’s opinion.

SENATOR ANDREWS:  So you’ve sort of taken your academic hat off for the purposes of that part of the discussion, right?

ROBERT LEE:  When I ask a professor’s opinion – you’re absolutely right, Senator - I want their opinion because I feel the need to either to agree with it or disagree with it.  But when I go into a classroom and receive syllabus, I am not asking for a professor’s opinion whatsoever, and that is where the subtlety comes in.  This is not to say that every professor does this, because I believe, like my colleague from CU, that I have had dozens of excellent, excellent professors at Colorado State University, but this does say that there is a subtle bias, and it does include students.  As impressionable as young freshman and sophomores are, a clear and a clear lack bias must be present for them to make their own decisions.  The debate community, I think is evidence, that when indoctrination is horrible because students take those biases and they believe them wholeheartedly without ever questioning them.  And if someone questions them, they are singled out, and this takes place in a more subtle manner in the classroom.

SENATOR ANDREWS: Thank you.  Kelly Maher.

KELLY MAHER: Thank you.  I really appreciate you taking the time out today and I know that attention spans are short and that hunger is at an all time high in this room so I’ll keep it very short.  I am one of the student body co-executives, which is a fancy word for co-president at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs and apparently the only one to speak for my campus today.  But what I did want to tell you is that, I feel from the presentations today, you may have as a panel the perception that this is a universal phenomenon.  At the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, it tends to be my experience that we have a very well-rounded faculty on both sides of the political spectrum.  And I decided to make sure that the panel understands that this maybe happening at some campuses, but it is not happening at all of them.  Also, I wanted to speak on the topics of guests coming to campuses and speaking has been brought up several times today.  In Boulder, just recently they had Ann Coulter as was stated before, Anthony Johnson from the office of management and budget from the Bush Administration, General Schwarzkopf was at the University of Colorado, Denver. 

We had Representative Mark Hillman come speak to us on the topic of abortion, which we also had several police officers at just in case.  Once a year we bring in a large political figure who is national.  Last year, we had former Mayor Rudy Giuliani which was amazing and this year, we had former Senator Bob Dole who is just a really cool guy.  As a Republican and as a Christian and being proud of it, I have been discriminated against before in the classroom. And as a very liberal person I wrote it up and I took it to the Dean.  I would take it all the way to the Chancellor.  I was in a speech class actually a little less than three weeks ago and I presented a speech on higher ed funding which has been a personal cause with me this year.  At the end I put a list of state representatives and senators to contact, and at the end of the list I included two senators and one representative out from El Paso County.  Needless to say, they were Republican, and I was counted down ten points for being biased because I presented the Republican name.  I left out more Republicans from El Paso County than I did Democrats because we have one, but...

SENATOR HAGEDORN:  There’s just one Democrat in El Paso County?

KELLY MAHER: Excuse me? (Laughter)

SENATOR HAGEDORN:  Are you referring to the one Democrat?

SENATOR ANDREWS:  One in the legislative delegation.  I think there are actually several in the entire county population. (Laughter)

KELLY MAHER:  But I did not include that, specific representative and I was counted down and the teacher comes to me afterwards... he was not a professor, he was a new instructor and said, “you’re being biased”… because I… everybody knows.

SENATOR ANDREWS:  This is what you took to the Dean?

KELLY MAHER:  Oh absolutely.

SENATOR ANDREWS: … and what was the result of taking it to the Dean?

KELLY MAHER:  The result was my grade was changed and he was chastised severely.  So.. the thing…

SENATOR ANDREWS:  Did it have anything to do with you being permanent in student government?  Do you think you got extra good treatment from the administration, as a result?

KELLY MAHER:  That is a very valid question and not one that I have an answer to.

SENATOR ANDREWS:  You are not allowed to ask the committee if a cop is ever let us off with a warning when we were speeding.

KELLY MAHER: Yeah, or you guys…tickets, and you have those special license plates, so they know…

SENATOR ANDREWS: We have gotten tickets, for the record.

KELLY MAHER:  But, I mean… and that’s a very valid question, and not that I have an answer to, but with my own experience and I cannot say whether or not that I would be treated the same had I not known the Dean previously and were I not in the position that I am in now.  But what I am saying is that, the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, maybe because of its geographic location and the fact that we tend have very Republican voter registration, we just have a lot of Republicans down there.  I am proud of it, but we tend to not have all the same problems that are being presented today.  So I don’t want you to walk away from here thinking this is a universal problem.  It may be isolated in certain cases as is being presented today.  It is not necessarily, what I am saying is not to throw the baby out with the bath water.  Thank you. 

SENATOR ANDREWS:  Thank you.

REP. PACCIONE:  I just want to have a couple of comments because I have heard this a few time now, mentioned that there are a few bad apples.  Generally speaking, Robert said “I had dozens of professors that were good professors and it’s been said quite a few times.  I feel like I… got a couple of things.  One, that we have given somewhat of an indictment to some college professors when the professor we choose here said that there is lack of commitment to good teaching on our campuses and I would really have to disagree with that, that there is actually phenomenal teaching being done on our campuses and that is why we have so many people who want to come here from other countries because they know that our colleges are great places to get educated and so, we have a few bad apples. 

Now, [protected identity] said that he was an anomaly.  I am going to tell you an anomaly, I am an evangelical Christian and a Democrat, now that’s an anomaly.  I am also the first woman to coach boy’s high school basketball, that’s anomaly.  No one else has ever done it since and I’m biracial, but I often get mistaken for white and so I have been privy to conversations by a few of those bad apples white racists who say things because they think I’m white, that they probably would not say if they knew that I was half-black.  So I have been privy to those kinds of things.  Now I don’t indict all whites, because there are a few white racists.  In the same way, I do not think we should indict college professors because there may be a few who are a little bit too liberal in their liberal positions, but they say it perhaps too many times or they use to many books.  Really what we have is a cultural bias at colleges. 

Remember that colleges they are almost all white.  So the authors of the books that are now required reading are all white authors.  As a person of color, I do not get representation either and so when I was in college, I read books mostly by white authors.  I read books written mostly by men and so we do have some biases and whether they’re subtle or overt, there are many biases and so the question is, is it the legislature’s responsibility to intervene in this notion of academic or subtle biases.  Is that not the purview of the university where there is a process.  There is a grievance process.  There is an evaluation process and those are have their right processes.  What the legislature should do and what we should really be focusing on is how to fund our education.  How to make it more accessible so that it is not all white.  How to make it more affordable so that more kids can go.  We cut so much in financial aid.  There are other places where the legislature really does have a significant impact on higher education and that is where we need to be focusing and let the universities deal with the kinds of bias that may be there.  You know if you read the Academic Bill of Rights, which I am sure most of you have.  I do not think that there are many college professors who would disagree with the fact that we went ahead.  In fact in… what’s your last name?

ERIN BERGSTROM: Bergstrom.

REP. PACCIONE: Bergstrom, in your comments… I think this exceptionally well said.  You object that the professors are arbitrarily deciding which belief they will present in the classroom.  Absolutely, I agree with that.  I think every person on both sides of the aisle would agree with that.  We live in a republic.  We celebrate the democratic ideals of equality and diversity.  I am not so sure that we really celebrate diversity.  In either sense they intellectual diversity, they may not be celebrating diversity, but it is a value of ours and that the university should be a free market place of ideas, of course it should be.  I do not think you have any argument.  What the argument is, how many bad apples do we have and if it’s pervasive, perhaps in a discipline, it could be pervasive, it could.  I agree… I’m in the school of education.  In the school of education, I would say it’s probably pervasive that the most people in the school of education are probably Democrats. 

So within particular disciplines it may be pervasive, but in general speaking, I don’t think anyone would disagree that we want the university to be a free marketplace of ideas.  That’s what makes us a great country.  That’s what--iron sharpens iron. But out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks and so, you know I am a Democrat.  I am going speak like a Democrat.  So, if I am asked for my opinion, so like Senator Hagedorn said, I’m probably going to say what my opinion is from my heart.  So, I think we have to find out where is the legislature’s responsibility in dealing with these biases in many different ways.  Culture, race, academics, political opinions.  Some of the things are invisible and should stay invisible.  So, I think we have a lot to deal with and I am just curious to see how many “bad apples” are there?  How many racist whites would we say there is?  Should we indict them all because of a few?

SENATOR ANDREWS:  We need to hear from Carol Vernon now please.

CAROL VERNON:  Thank you.  As you said, I’m Carol Vernon, I am student of the Graduate School of Social Work at DU and I do realize that DU is private institution, it’s not currently under consideration but I think I have a success story here.  I think in one way I am glad that I am the last person presenting because I think that I can be a voice of hope because I have a wonderful example of an administration that was responsive to the complaints of students on ideological discrimination.  They were willing to look in to this issue and willing to make changes.  In just a brief nutshell, because my testimony is in your packet, I just want to briefly highlight a few things.  When I chose to seek a Masters Degree in Social Work, I knew that this was considered a liberal field.  I knew that my professors would probably share this liberal ideology; I really was okay with that.  What I wasn’t prepared for was the many comments that were directed towards conservative officials and conservative thoughts.  The negative comments in the classroom by professors and students alike.  For me, I wrongly concluded that I was the only conservative in the school until, as time went on I begun to meet other conservatives. 

They shared with me their stories, but even more than, I began to meet moderates and persons who had other views, whether that other view came from a religious ideology, whether it came from their life experiences, but for whatever reason it wasn’t the mainstream liberal thought.  I began to see that there was a large percentage of students who felt marginalized from the classroom experience.  I felt this was something I needed to speak on, and I did.  I would just like give you my premise here and actually you alluded to that, that  there is no one political party or ideology that can make a claim, or at least substantiate that claim, to possessing all truth. To put it in social work terms, to have full and complete answers to all social work problems.  So therefore, in a student’s pursuit of knowledge, he or she must be presented with a plurality of methods, of viewpoints, so that we can come to our conclusions through critical thinking and reasoned analysis.  I really believe it’s our professor’s academic responsibility.  We talked about good teaching here.  I think it’s good teaching when our professors... I do not mind if they have their own bias, I really don’t.  I don’t mind that they have their own views, I don’t mind hearing that.  I want to be challenged on my own views, but I want the classroom to be a place where everyone can come to table, where all views can be presented and they can be critiqued and not by what political party generated that idea, but on its own merits.  That is wanted to see at my school.

SENATOR ANDREWS:  So when you brought your concerns to the attention of the administration, a process has been set in motion that you feel is going to improve the situation.

CAROL VERNON:  I am very pleased with the changes that are taking place.  I would like to say that… this issues was first brought before student government and before the Deans.  I think that they did not see it as an issue or as a problem but what I will say is they wanted to try to address it.  We held brown-bag lunches which the Dean initiated.  We held conversations in the classroom about the intellectual climate and just a lot of open discussions, and what come out of that was that conservatives began to speak up, moderates... others who had other represented views, but even more importantly the liberal students began to speak up.  They began to say, “You know this not a fair environment for conservatives and for those who hold other views.”  And it was actually the liberal students and I am very proud of them for saying we want an environment that is intellectually stimulating.  We need to know the other side.  We want to be challenged in our own views so we can be certain.  In fact it really was a wake-up call to our professors and to the administration.  Since these meetings, several changes are being implemented. 

The provost has requested each department to develop a program assessment plan that includes the classroom environment.  The administration is started a process of integrating new course evaluation to questions such as, “Did students see the classroom as a supportive and respectful environment in which there was an equal opportunity to share their viewpoints? Were they treated with respect in discussions and when appropriate, were multiple solutions to social problems presented from varying viewpoints?  There will be a statement added to our course syllabi that diversity in its fullest measure, including political, religious and ideological thought is valued in the classroom.  One of our required courses, the course on multi-culturalism will include discussion on sensitivity and respect for issues of diversity, including differing political and ideological viewpoints.  So, again I do want to give credit to our administration and for having the courage to address the issue.  To having the courage to say is this really happening in our campus? 

Investigate and be willing to make the changes as the director of our program and the academic dean has shared with me, they are making changes not because of any political or social pressure, but because it’s the right thing to do.  So I’ll just end by saying to be fair here if I could wave a magic wand over my school and on my professors who are conservatives, if I would be the one being presented with a conservative even though it may feel very comfortable to me, I would not be getting a full and complete education.  I want to know what other views are out there.  I want to be able to hold that view up and critique it not from what political party it came from, but on its own merit.  And so I just like to end and I think that’s the beauty, or that’s one of the strengths of our nation that there are a plurality of viewpoints out there and I would like to see that brought back, encouraged and supported in our classrooms.  Thank you.

SENATOR ANDREWS: Thank you Ms. Vernon. It is encouraging to hear a successful interaction between a student and the professors and a administration that has resulted in what sounds like the improvement of the learning experience for everyone without regards to their political viewpoint or beliefs.  We really are out of time, Mr. Lee and we have gone beyond that time here and some of us have other commitments.  I would want to thank the legislators who stayed in to the noon hour here.  I thank all of those of you who came and apologize that we were unable to call on everyone that may have wish to speak.  I made an effort to add to each of the panels, names that were brought to my attention as we went along and again the record remains open for any of you that wish to submit written testimony today or in the coming days.  I would say at the end as I did it at the beginning, this is an ad hoc, informal, fact-finding process under the formal rules of the legislature and it does not have in front of us a legislative bill; otherwise we would have stayed around all day to hear from anyone who wanted sign up, whether they were invited ahead of time or not.   When and if there would be such a bill, we certainly will that type of open-ended hearing process and I think that my colleagues out there would agree with me, we are always eager to hear from any of you on this or other subjects. 

SENATOR ANDREWS: The committee will be adjourned.




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