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


SENATOR ARNOLD:  The other question that I have at this point of the three statements, are you aware of the process that is there, and did you follow process at any time during the conflict of interest?

SENATOR ANDREWS:  Mr. Culpepper?

GEORGE CULPEPPER:  I was not aware of the process until I got pulled into the process.  I can tell you that since that time, the president of Metro State’s office had been working rather… I mean good on the issue and they’ve certainly tried keeping me informed on it, but you know since then at the time I was not aware of how to file the grievance.

SENATOR HAGEDORN:  Thank you Senator Andrews.  Let me add something in terms of the evaluations as Senator Andrews did mention is that they are scaled and I asked many years ago when they first started it is that, what does this mean?  I have all these numbers and yes I have statistics and I was looking at this and I mean… where do I cross the line that I’m not doing a good job, and the chairman of the department said when you fall below the mean consistently, and they look at him and then that determines whether or not there is a problem and that if they need to talk to faculty, why you are always in the lower half or below the mean response.  They are evaluated and certainly I can say for the Political Science chairman at Metro the two of them that I served under recently that they do note how you are doing with the students and they do pay attention, and, fortunately I have never had that problem where I’ve fallen in to that category.

SENATOR ARNOLD:  It sounds like an individuality program.

SENATOR HAGEDORN:  The chairmen do track it and there are some indicators that you may be a problem, certainly with the adjunct faculty there might be a problem with the department or something.

SENATOR ARNOLD: Thank you.

SENATOR ANDREWS:  And what about the other three students that I asked if one of you would like a moment to address the committee?  Yes!  Please come up.  And we will get to the others if time permits, as the agenda moves on.  Introduce yourself.  Welcome.

JOE TAGGERT:  Hi!  My name is Joe Taggert, I am a sophomore at Metro State College.  I have been following this debate quite closely over the past few months.  At first I want to express my disappointment that I did not learn about it sooner at this hearing.  I learned about it yesterday afternoon and I am concerned that there is not a very wide net cast for other opinions and if they day you would see dozens of people here today.  You would see dozens of people on that list that you have that did oppose an academic bill of rights and who oppose this real ideological crusade on campus.

SENATOR ANDREWS:  Well you see that’s not the point here, Mr. Taggert.  The point is to hear from those who are concerned that the system isn’t working in their lives, as it is said to work on paper.  And so, no one at this meeting this morning has said anything about an ideological crusade, have they? So would you stay on point.

JOE TAGGERT:  Okay.  I do have with me a letter to the editor of the Metro State College of Denver.  This is at the Metropolitan, our school newspaper, it is by a student asking for the resignation of the same professor that Gerge Culpepper was complaining about.  Now, I would like for you all to read this and you will see the very kind of personal and political motivated attack that it is.  It is full of gossip, it is full of innuendos.  It is full of personal insults.  It is full of simply false accusations.  And I believe that this is precisely the kind of attack that we are gonna see a lot more of.  This is becoming incredibly divisive on college campuses.  And I wanna know, I’ve heard a lot of anecdotes, I’ve heard a lot of anecdotes here from right-wing students, and I wanna know how can we separate a genuine problem from what amounts to personal attacks by politically-motivated students and I have heard now that there are a couple of complaints, actually complaints filed, with the Metro State grievances, and I don’t exactly hear grade grievances, and just a few months ago Tara Tolz who is Assistant Dean of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Metro was quoted on the UCD advocate as saying that in the last year-and-a-half prior, this is a few months ago she said this, prior to all the those proposals about the Academic Bill of Rights.  She said that the number of grade appeal grievances that had been submitted to her was zero.  Zero!  None! 

Now all of a sudden they are hearing grievances, we are hearing attacks on professors and I wanna know, if there is so much and why aren’t grade appeal grievances, and I think it’s because either number one, these students’ grades have not been affected, their grades have not been affected; or two, that they know that their charges are not serious enough to file a grievance.  As for why the stories, why the personal attacks, I believe it is to intimidate the liberal professors; I think it is to create a climate of fear on campus and I think it is to distract from the real issues facing higher education being the massive budget cuts and the layoffs at Metro of over 80 employees just today in the Rocky Mountain News says college cash crunch.  This is the real issue facing colleges here today, and I think that this is a waste of time and taxpayers’ money.  Thank you.

SENATOR ANDREWS:  Unfortunately, I am not paid to be here, so taxpayers are not on the hook with the time we are spending today.  (Laughter)  Are there questions to Mr. Taggert?  Senator Arnold?

SENATOR ARNOLD:  Mr. Taggert, one thing runs on my mind.  Would you be lobbying here today, or struggling the same way as you are now if the professors were all right-wing extremists?

MR. JOE TAGGERT:  I would use the existing procedures to file a grievance, that’s what I would do.  If I generally felt that my grade had been affected by a professor, I would use the existing procedures, which everyone admits, already exist at our school, they already exist.

SENATOR ARNOLD:  Answer my question.

MR. JOE TAGGERT:  No! I don’t believe I would, but as I’ve said I would use the existing procedures to file a complaint.

SENATOR ANDREWS:  Anything further?  Thank you very much, and we will get to Lindsay Kraut and Eric Weason if the time permits.  We now have five panelists from CU Boulder we ask that group to come up please. Stephanie, Flux, Mark, Nate. Your female counterparts did not want to be associated with you three gentlemen, is that the problem?  (Laughter) Who wants to begin?  Over here, introduce yourself please and give us your testimony.  As time management obviously is difficult, try to keep it to three minutes.

STUDENT:  Yes sir.  Senator Andrews, ladies and gentlemen, thank you for hearing me today.  I would like to begin with a brief introduction, about 30 seconds of myself, to give you some background.  My name is [identity protected].  I am Christian.  I am a conservative.  I am also a proud member of the military, and in most college campuses that makes me an absolute anomaly.  The opinions that I express today are on my own solely and not those of the government or the Airforce by whom I am employed.  I have a background in finance.

SENATOR ANDREWS:  You mentioned the Air Force, does that mean you’re in Airforce ROTC?

STUDENT:  Yes, sir.

SENATOR ANDREWS: Okay, go ahead.

STUDENT:  I have a background in finance from CU Boulder, an MBA, in which I graduated first in my class from Saint Mary’s University in Texas and I am currently a full scholarship student at the University of Denver Law School.  I say this not to toot my own horn, but simply to say that this is the real problem by good students.  I fear that much of what is said today might be dismissed, as simply poor students who did not get the grade they wanted and are simply complaining, and that is not the case.  As I said, I have a degree from a large public university, a small private religious university, and a medium-sized private nonreligious university so I feel that I can speak with some knowledge in this regard.  I would like to share with you two brief anecdotes.  I believe that there are two types of bias on campuses.  One is an intentional outward bias.  Another is a more passive bias that simply results from the beliefs of the individual professors.

On the latter, I have the following examples:  I was admitted to both CU and DU Law Schools, and I went to attend orientations for admitted students to both schools.  While at CU, one of the professor’s stood up, and he was trying to sell the school to everyone and he stood up and he was extolling the ideological diversity of their faculty members.  And he said, and I quote, “We are very diverse, we have old fashioned conservatives, two Marxists, and three different kinds of Democrats.”  Now, if you are not being serious, that would be very, very funny, but he was being very, very serious.  And to me what that shows is a passive bias.  This individual, I do not know his particular beliefs, but it seemed to me like he really believed that he was in the middle and that having a couple of Marxist to offset the conservatives and then three kinds of Democrats in the middle is actually an unbiased, centrist view.  And of course that is out of touch with many Americans. 

The second example that I have is of a more active bias.  I, my junior year, I was in a political science class, it was a required course, and I read a paper comparing and contrasting the media and the military, and those two groups.  We learned a framework called the “Triple I” in which organizes institutions by their ideas, interests and institutions and you look at the two different people that had been drawn to those two groups.  My father is in the media, I am in the military, it was of particular interest to me. I wrote a very, very good paper, what I thought was one of the best papers that I wrote during my college career and at the end, under a separate paragraph, I included my own personal opinion.  And that was read while by both these groups are very, very important to society, one owes its existence to the other, and the converse is not true.  And it included a fairly well known quote from a marine corps chaplain, “It is the soldier not the reporter who has given us freedom of the press. It is the soldier not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech, etc. etc.”  In my recollection, I was given a C or a B- on this paper.  I did receive a B+ on the course; However, I am very convinced that the only reason that I did not get a B or an A on this paper was because of that last paragraph, which I added into the whole thing.

SENATOR ANDREWS:  And that is at what institution?

STUDENT:  CU Boulder, sir.

SENATOR ANDREWS:  The thing that you left out of your biography is if you were related to “The” Rockefellers and if we could turn to you to get the state out of debt.  (Laughter)

STUDENT:  Sorry.  No money, so it does me no good.

SENATOR ANDREWS:  Can we add Vershara Lott to this panel.  Ms. Lott was brought to my attention as someone who had been on the list before, but I would like hear her perspective, and let’s go ahead and take the next presenter please.

FLUX NEO: Thank you ladies and gentlemen for having me here today.  My name is Flux Jason Neo, I am a senior at the University of Colorado at Boulder and I come from a very diverse background, not only ethnically, economically, I have a broad swath of experiences that I brought into my college experience, and so I came in to academia with a sense that individuals would like to seek out what is best in any given situation, and obviously, that is a rather subjective assessment.  But, I would like to just ask two questions and then somewhat answer them.  The first, is there academic bias and I give a resounding Yes!  The next part for me is, does this affect the quality of education?  It gets with this whole notion of what is best, and I associate quality and what is best as synonymous terms.  Now, for the purposes of this forum I took the time to, come to really recount want my experience at the University of Colorado has been.  And it has been one in which I, being an outspoken individual, who takes the time to do extra readings if need be to make sure that I am up to speed on the subject matter, if I do not feel that I am getting it in the classroom environment. 

I have had a situation in which, I have been the one voice in a sea, seeking to bring balance to my classroom experience.  And that has been a situation for me that really causes me to question upon actually being educated or just becoming more entrenched in views that I already hold.  The notion that was presented earlier about giving students the skills, the critical thinking tools, to be able to make good decisions is the crux of what I thought of higher education was about.  When you learn basic arithmetic and writing skills, but now I needed a forum to test them and seek out opportunities to qualify a perception.  And I believe that the classroom environment should be one in which, not only through classroom discussion, but through the material presented and then also for the insight of the professor, that one would have an experience that, again, forms these skills that I believe are essential.

SENATOR ARNOLD:  May I interject a little here?

FLUX NEO:  Yes.

SENATOR ARNOLD:  But have you personally been discriminated against and if would kind of stick to that area.

FLUX NEO:  Sure! That is just fine about to get to...

SENATOR ARNOLD:  You know the procedure.

FLUX NEO:  …three elements that I have noticed this bias came out.  One is just overt.  I can recall the day after September 11th, while we were in class and the professor took the time to stop the class and wanted to explain that it is very important that we take extra special care to be very sensitive about the Islam students that were on CU public campus.  Now, preaching notions of sensitivity is just fine.  The simple fact of that there was no mention of individuals that could not get contact with family members who lived in New York City.  They did not know what condition their family is and loved ones were in.  There was no mention of that, and so I took the time to say, well what about the rest of us, first-off… and what about the rest of those who are in this class who have no idea what the condition of their loved ones are, and the professor is very deadly serious and turned and said, I am not going to go there.  And, as a student, to have the full-force of a professor telling you I am not going to take the time to even acknowledge that viewpoint that, yes, there are other other individuals that by excluding the other individuals, you need to be sensitive to them also was a very clear statement of her perception that this idea of presenting a ….., I cannot but it in terms beyond that of what I would see a liberal notion of how to go about sensitizing people to other individual’s distinction if you will.

SENATOR ARNOLD:  Did you file a complaint?

FLUX NEO:  For that issue, No.  I did not have any idea of what to do in that kind of situation.

SENATOR ARNOLD:  Did you file a complaint?

FLUX NEO:  In that situation, no.

SENATOR ARNOLD:  Have you ever filed a complaint on any of the situations?

FLUX NEO:  My complaint is registered vocally in class.  I have not taken a formal channel of resolving my concern about these situations.  I use the FCQs at the end of the semester as a way, because, that is the most overt means that we have as students to go ahead and lodge any concerns that we have about the classroom experience.  To take the time out, just give you an idea, I run 18-credits a semester and I am a double major in Political Science and Communications and to have to go and find some channel out there, they kill you with the bureaucratic ins and outs.  They take your spirit out.

SENATOR ARNOLD:  Thank you… I apologize Mr. President, I (unintelligible).

SENATOR ANDREWS:  You are in charge that is fine….Were you raising your hand or having a sip of water, Representative Paccione?

REP. PACCIONE:  Just having a sip of water.

SENATOR ANDREWS: Were you finished Mr. Neo?

FLUX NEO:  Yes, other than that I would like to say that there are also biases in the classroom material and there are also biases in how classroom discussion is centered; that there is a presumptiom that leftist viewpoints are “The” viewpoint to take and anything else should be considered second-rate thinking.  Thank you.

SENATOR ANDREWS:  Just to clarify what I understood you to say in response to Senator Arnold’s inquiry whether you filed grievances and you say you have your studies and your life to get on with and we all remember President Kennedy’s famous and very true observation that life is unfair.  Anyone that gets very far in college, and has not learned that life is unfair, the time is going to come that they are going to learn that, and I think we all need the perspective that the ways in which any of you feel you are having a less than ideal experience, academically, politically, socially or otherwise at your university, there is no such thing as an ideal experience and you apparently have decided that the grievance process is too much trouble to be worth any result that you might get out of it.  Is that right?

FLUX NEO:  And that is not based strictly on looking at some process.  I am very active in multiple levels of my campus life and I have interacted with many of individuals, liaisons that are there to address student concerns and there is a certain quality toward my engagement with those individuals that makes it clear to me that they have no interest in really seeking clearer results to my concerns in this situation.  This is a individual’s individual interactions, and if you are there making an assessments that this person does not care, it takes pretty much the wind of any sails you have that would motivate you go and again, engage in some lengthy process.

SENATOR ANDREWS:  Let us take the next one please.

NATE STRAUCH:  Thank you, Senator Andrews.

SENATOR ANDREWS:  Introduce yourself if you would.

NATE STRAUCH:  I am Nate Strauch, I’m from CU Boulder and I am a junior, majoring in political science.

SENATOR ANDREWS:  Thank you

SENATOR ANDREWS:  Go ahead.

NATE STRAUCH:  Absolutely, during the height of Civil Rights movement, Dr. Martin Luther King proclaimed that our lives begin to end on the day we become sullen about things that matter and I personally see this as something that matters very much as keeping an environment where students can feel free to voice their opinions without fear or retribution and I thank you all for being here today to address that.  I have attended the University of Colorado, Boulder for just two-and-a-half years now, and in that time, I have seen first hand indoctrination that collegiate officials’ claim does not exist.  As a student majoring in political science, some might think that I have seen some of the worst indoctrination and while that is true, the worst that I have seen came not in a political class, but in a course on Macroeconomics.  The professor that taught myself, and 500 of my fellow students in spring of 2002. 

He was an excellent educator.  He could convey knowledge, and it was truly a testament what good teaching should be; but unfortunately, this professor in question, uses course not as a learning experience, but rather as a soapbox for liberal indoctrination.  Day after day, class after class, he would forgo the finer points of economics in lieu of opinionated diatribes on both the President and his fellow Republican legislators.  I approached this professor numerous times throughout the semester and I questioned his political motivations and pleaded with him to stick to the course, which is economics.  The professor told me that he was simply calling things as he saw them.  Although, I may have disagreed with his opinionated lectures, I at least still have the option of descent.  When it came to his test; however, I was given no such option.  Numerous test questions force students to either agree with his opinions or suffer academically as a result.  And, in my mind that called for…

SENATOR ANDREWS:  Can you give an example of what that was.  What was the specific question that forced you to agree with his opinion?

NATE STRAUCH:  I had a feeling you might ask that, unfortunately, since the class was so long ago, I do not have any idea of the specific question word for word.  But he devoted most of his lectures to saying why the President was wrong on nearly every issue, and his tests reflected that.  Some questions were about economics and were perfectly legitimate, and other questions were focused specifically on why the President was wrong, and forced students to agree with his opinions, and I felt that, that would qualify as discrimination moving into the realm of just political ranting.

SENATOR ANDREWS:  Okay.

NATE STRAUCH:  Toward the end of the semester, even the liberal students in the class who are beginning to complain of his vendetta against Republicans, and their complaints also fell on deaf ears.  He continues to teach his class in the same way.  I have a friend who is taking his class this semester and he continues to do the exact same thing and try to indoctrinate another class of freshman.

SENATOR ANDREWS:  Let me ask, when the students compared notes and are in substantial agreement that professor is deficient in this or any other way, is there an effort to use the evaluation questionnaire at end of the class to really send that message up to the department head because, we have in front of us CU specific response that there is a further comments section and at CU-Colorado Spring they specifically ask to rate the professor’s treatment of students regardless of what the background.  Was there an effort this case to send a message that the professor was being unfair so that that may be corrected in the future.

NATE STRAUCH:  Absolutely, absolutely.  The faculty course questionnaires FCQ, as they are called are given out to all the students at the end of the class so we can write both the professor and the class and I questioned on that questionnaire about how the professor treated ethnic minorities and how he treated issues, dealing with ethnic minorities.  There were no questions about political affiliation.  There is an open-ended response section and I did, and I am sure may others did fill out that section requesting him to stick to economics and not dally in the area of political diatribes.

SENATOR ANDREWS:  Did you take any other steps to bring it to the attention of the Department Chair?

NATE STRAUCH:  I did not.  I feel that the faculty course questionnaires are given to us as student as tools to use to the point out flaws, what we feel are flaws in the professors’ curriculum in the way he teaches the class, and I did use that to my full advantage to apparently no result.  I just kind of wanted to wrap things up by saying that most of the professors that I have had at CU Boulder are excellent professors who do check their political biases at the door.  They do a good job of showing both sides of the issues.  But there are these professors out there like this professor in question who use their classes as nothing more than a soap box, just to give their political views and try to force you to conform with those views and that is why I feel that there is a need for legislative action against this kind of environment of fear that they have placed on conservative students, and I just kind of wanted to wrap it up by saying that I opened with a quote from Martin Luther King, the Civil Rights movement of 1960s was not about affirmative action and this issue is not about affirmative action as the liberals on the other side would claim.  It is about making sure that there is an environment on campus where conservative students can feel heard and feel every bit as comfortable as liberal student from the classroom.  Thank you.

SENATOR ANDREWS:  Next one please.

VERSHARA LOTT:  Hi. I am Vershara Lott one of the tri-executives representing the, like, 29,000 students of CU Boulder, I am one of the elected tri-executives.  I am thankful to be here today…

SENATOR ANDREWS:  Please state what year you are and what you’re majoring in please.

VERSHARA LOTT:  I am sorry. I am a junior.  I am actually an anthropology major and I am thankful for being here today so that I can here the concerns of the students at campus.  I have not received any e-mails.  Usually, I do receive e-mails from students who have concerns about if it is paper print as an issue.  I have not received one yet from students about conservative discrimination.  So, this is good for me here so that I can take this back to the university.  We have means, we can really come to some solutions on how we can work through the situation.  I did just want to state that there is a couple formal mechanisms that are already in place, and I know and I have heard a lot of people mentioned already like where students can go to their departmental chair if they have any concerns.  There is the obudsman office, where actually students can go to as well and may have mediated sessions.  They also work with honor code as well.  There is also the FCQs.  They do have that comment area where students can go in to lengthy detail and people do read those and take those seriously.  Those students can also voice their opinions through there. There is also currently Eugene Pearson who is working with Dean Gleason of Arts and Sciences to improve upon.  There is a grievance system that students can use especially for political science majors and they are looking to improve that currently.  So, there is still, there is stuff going…

SENATOR ANDREWS:  So, Mr. Pearson has specific responsibility for improving that grievance system.  Is that who he is?

VERSHARA LOTT:  He is one of the elected students also for…

SENATOR ANDREWS:  I see, OK... and he is to liaison with the dean in that area.

VERSHARA LOTT:  Yes. He is here today actually.  I don’t know, he came by and...

SENATOR ANDREWS:  Thank you, I wish there were time to hear it from everyone, but thank you for bringing that to our attention. Mr. Pearson, good wishes in that endeavor and I think it is to the credit of the University that there is some effort to make specific improvements there.  Ms. Lott, suppose that you had received e-mails about this particular concern.  What recourse do you have through student government to try to bring it to the attention of the university administration?

VERSHARA LOTT:  Oh, what I do, what I could do is when I meet Chancellor Benny and the different administrators I could bring it out to them and really sit there and figure out what we can do, how we can improve.  I would research also what currently the university is doing, and see what we can do to improve it.  I don’t know.  I definitely would take serious action on that though.  These are a serious concerns, and discrimination of any kind, and being a woman color, I am always a lone voice in class of like 1 out of 300 students in a classroom a lot of times in lecture halls, but I understand that I am a lone voice.  But also, that is my job, but now it’s almost like a personal…

SENATOR ANDREWS:  What is the atmosphere for you as a woman of color and outnumbered as you just described.  Is it an accepting, supporting atmosphere of openness.  We would hope it would be in terms of racial acceptance.

VERSHARA LOTT:  Honestly, I do not think it is.  But, I think I am strong woman.  I also know that I can handle anything, and also this is my opportunity to take my views being a woman of color to the students in my classroom.  So yes they might not agree with me.  And, that is okay, they don’t need to walk out the classroom and say, “you know Vershara I agree with you now”.  The fact is that it is something they can walk away with and really I think about and may be in the future it might help them out with thinking about new things, so it’s just enlightenment.

SENATOR ANDREWS:  No doubt, you would acknowledge from having talked to your parents’ and grandparents’ generation that it is a world of difference from how an African American might have felt accepted on a university campus, a generation or two ago.

VERSHARA LOTT:  Uh huh.

SENATOR ANDREWS:  And so, where I am going with this is, we must acknowledge some degree of validity to Mr. Strauch’s analogy between the struggle for equal treatment of our African Americans and all races with the concerns being expressed by these students about political discrimination.

VERSHARA LOTT:  I do.  I do understand where they can be coming from then and I do acknowledge that if someone is still extremely discriminated against, it is important to address that issue.

SENATOR ANDREWS:  I am not going to put words in your mouth, but thank you for expressing that and thank you for what you do in addition to your studies.  It must be very demanding in student government and it is extremely valuable to have your perspective in the discussion this morning.

VERSHARA LOTT:  Thank you.

REP. MADDEN:  I have another quick question.  You said you have not received e-mails about this?

VERSHARA LOTT:  No.

REP. MADDEN:  Do you get complaints about other things? Do students see as someone to go to...

VERSHARA LOTT:  I did get a lot of complaints, it could be just paper printing issues that came up.  I get that and also other issues that students have with the Rec Center, with Wardenburg.  All these different areas that student fees cover, I will receive e-mails on.  So, this is one I have yet to receive one on.

SENATOR ANDREWS:  In the interest of time can we hear from Jessie now.

JESSIE ULIBARRI:  My name is Jessie Ulibarri.  I am a third year student at the University of Colorado at Boulder, studying Spanish for the Professions and Political Science, which also has a business component.  I was elected two years in a row to be one of the representatives on the University of Colorado’s Student Union Legislative Council, which is composed of all the students elected at large by students and there also are senators that come from individual colleges and schools within the campus.  So, its representative of everyone on campus.  I wanted to come to speak about a couple of things in terms of this issue.  First, I want to say thank you, like Vershara said, for bringing this issue to our attention and as Vershara also said, we have not received any complaints, by e-mail, by phone, otherwise to the student union office and we are the largest representative body, one of the largest student governments in the nation that has an amazing system for answering those complaints and answers those concerns. 

We have individual relationships with the deans and other administrators on our campus so we get to be able to go and have those conservations and open up those dialogues about what is going on on our campus; however, those issues have never been brought to us and so we have not been able to take that step.  I am glad that this had come to the table so we can start this process within our own institution.  So, thank you for that.  I wanted to speak about a couple of things.  First, I want to address the comment made by Mr. Strauch about the similarity between, the discrimination between conservative students and the similarities between those of an ethnic minority or gender minority or whatever there might be it the campus situation. I think that there is a main key difference in that.  I think that someone’s political ideology is based on their ideas and what they might say, and I think that the discrimination that someone might face based on their individual identity is just on who they are. 

So, I think that discrimination based on someone’s thoughts and their words is more of a person than the issue, instead of, you know, just aberrance of who they are.  I think if we limit what someone can say, then we are limiting their first amendment right.  But if we limit who someone is, I think that would be a completely different issue.  I do not think that these things are that similar.  In my experience in political science, I have never had a negative experience with discrimination, but I have had experiences the discrimination.  I had a class with a professor, one of the most conservative professors in the Political Science Department, stating from the first day that he was.  My political ideology is not conservative, it’s more liberal, and from day one, we were forced to look a lot of conservative issues, and I think that, that class was one of the most positive experiences in my history at CU Boulder over the last two-and-a-half years because I did not agree with him, because I did not agree what was being taught until I was forced to think for myself, and I think that is the purpose of a university system, to be forced to think for yourself.

SENATOR ANDREWS:  Were you fairly graded?  Were you fairly graded in that course?

JESSIE ULIBARRI:  I was fairly good in that course.

SENATOR ANDREWS:  And, was the atmosphere of classroom discussion fair in your opinion, that you were not inhibited from disagreeing even though you knew the professor was contrary to your beliefs.

JESSIE ULIBARRI:  I was never limited from disagreeing, but I was also intimated being one probably four people who identified themselves as liberal within a class of about 28 on speaking on issues and just time facing number issues, our professor would call on more people with rightist ideology than us because there was more of them in the class.

SENATOR ANDREWS:  Yes, Mr. Neo?

FLUX NEO:  I am pleased on one level that the elected leadership of CU Boulder campus is going to take heed of these concerns and make some more effort to address these concerns.  I would like to note the fact that the political identification of the elected leadership is so far to the left that it makes it a very difficult experience for students seeking to use them as a vehicle to reconcile considering  if you are not of their cliquish  “leftist group”, and you walk in to their offices, you feel overt hostility and as far as the idea of mixing ideological discrimination and racial discrimination if you are treated the same way, I don’t care, it’s discrimination, purely.  And I think that is the important part to keep in mind here that if you have feelings of insecurity, if you have feelings of fear, and are questioning every thing you do and say, because you know these individuals are seeking to get anything that they can to use against you it makes it very difficult to utilize a mechanism like the UCSU student government.

SENATOR ANDREWS:  Yes, but we really can’t go to a debate here... I

FLUX NEO:  I do not want to.

SENATOR ANDREWS:  It is a help that the two of you are here because I understand the intensity of Mr. McNeal feelings, but I am not looking at people that come across here this morning as either far left or overtly hostile.  So it helps us to have perspective that all five of you are at the table.

SENATOR ANDREWS:  Senator Phillips.

SENATOR PHILLIPS:  Thank you Mr. President.  What I would like to do very quickly and then I do have a question.  I would like to read from this so-called Academic Bill of Rights.  One of the sentences, it says, “Academic freedom consists in protecting the intellectual independence of professors, researchers, and students in the pursuit of knowledge and the expression of ideas”.  I have here the legislators that are within the institution itself.  I think that academic freedom is certainly important, but I do not know if we need to as a legislature begin to interfere with that, I will get to the question, what I have heard today, from just about everyone who has testified, my comment is that most of the professors are. . . . .and good and… Nate, he is nodding.  He heard the same kind of thing too.  Yet, we have heard there might be a handful, and I am going to use words and as operative as they might be a handful of professors who, where a paragraph was included in a particular paper might have objected so much that the grade was a little bit lower.  While in another instance anecdotal all cases that there might have been isolated situations or comments were made and how those comments were made to change or to otherwise stimulate possible classroom conversation, but things like that may have ruffled the feathers and possibly increased some sort of controversy, which may have actually been turned in to a intellectual, educational situation.  What I am trying to figure out is, what are we here for as the Ad Hoc Committee and is it alright today to begin to interfere with this expression of ideas?  We are also hearing that we have an overwhelming evidence of someone, and it would not matter to me whether they were liberal, conservative or whatever.  We have such a tipping of the scale to be going in only one direction.  I do not even know what to rate for wrong direction would be because independence of expression and search for knowledge would result in those kinds of things.  Then why are we here?

SENATOR ANDREWS:  Well, is that a rhetorical question?

SENATOR PHILLIPS:  What is the solution?  Because we have processes whether we call FCQs or whatever.  We have process for grievance resolution.  We might need to add some comment or something like that to Metro’s but it sounds like they have structured that so that it could be statistically analyzed.

SENATOR ANDREWS: What do you guys suggest?

NATE STRAUCH:  If I may?  I am sorry, I’m going to have to respectfully disagree with your assessment of the environment.  These are not isolated incidents.  This is what we feel is a pattern of discrimination throughout the college and throughout the administration.  Where are outlets of resolution, thank you…. are blocked, because to a large degree and it’s certainly no fault of their own, but I think the student council to a large degree is completely, nonetheless, the administration takes a left point of view on everything.  Conservative students are systematically being blocked from representation in the college.

SENATOR ANDREWS:  Let’s take another comment, at Senator Phillip’s suggestion. 

JESSE ULIBARRI:  I will respond to that.  I think that the question that you posed is very valid.  I think that the resolution, the way we can resolve this issue is very much within our own institutions of higher education and it is not something that should have been brought to the state legislature.  We have the FCQs, we have the ability to go to our deans and our chairs, and then despite popular opinion about the University Colorado’s student union.  We do have the ability to bring in experiential learners that bring in rightist, viewpoints.  This year we brought in Anne Coulter. We have people come in and debate from the right and the left about affirmative action.  We have actually two separate fronts to do that.  We funded groups that were founded actually by Mr. Neo, which was the libertarian groups over the course of the year.  We have funded a lot of different events from all different points of view and I think that it’s something that we should be addressing within our own university and our own institutions and it’s not something that should have been brought to this legislature. 

SENATOR ANDREWS:  I think that is the kindest thing I ever heard Ann Coulter called is when you called her an experiential learner. (Laughter)

SENATOR PHILIPS:  I guess what I am getting at is, if we don’t have a way to resolve these grievances or if in the process of pursuing these grievances, someone is being unfairly denied or something like that, do we have any examples of anybody forcibly being fired or students I don’t know not meeting the grade because they have specifically been identified.  Do we have any evidence of harm being done?  And I’m seeing at least one head nodding out there.

SENATOR ANDREWS:  We have two more panels to hear from and I think we just take that as a very valid question.  What is the level of serious of the problems being brought before us to here today and then what is the appropriate response, given the level of seriousness.

UNKNOWN SPEAKER:  Thank you.  For the gentleman of this panel, I was going to ask if you are trying to speak with universities, I know there were a couple of more students from CU.

SENATOR ANDREWS:  I think that what we need to do is acknowledge not only Eugene Pearson, but others from student government at the CU Boulder, and that would be Laura Ranch and Joseph McGussey. I hope I am saying that right. Thank you for being here.  There is no more time to here from you, but I wanted to note that you took time to comment and members of the press that wanted to speak with you in the hallway, you’re here as a resource and we thank you for that.  Let us stand down this panel and ask Mr. Hamm, Ms. Neo and Mr. Schwartz, and this group is at the Denver Campus of the University of Colorado.  Steve Polk are you here?  Let’s try to add you to this panel.  We are going to need to move this along, but if you can come up Steve and take a seat up here.

I will ask you to adapt your prepared comments, members of this panel, so that you try to bring us, not cover ground that we have covered and we will pass your description of the ideal atmosphere that you would like to have on campus and try to give us actual experiences or specific data of what it is like at UC Denver in your experience.  Who wants to start?  Please introduce yourself and go ahead.

KIRK HAMM:  My name is Kirk Hamm and for the last six years, I have been highly involved in the politics of CU as a member of the student government, both as an undergraduate at CU Boulder and now as a graduate of the CU Law School.  I come from a bit of a different perspective with my colleagues. I came to campus as liberal, with very little agendas and I wanted to defend underrepresented groups; groups that were not given a voice.  What I did not expect is that the group that I would be defending most as those who been silenced most would be the conservatives and I became a liberal defending conservatives.  That defines my career.  And I can speak… already you have heard about some of the discrimination that goes on in the classroom that my conservative students have made me very aware of.  But I can speak also to some of the administrative concerns you have Sir that are not being addressed and I would severely differ with some of my colleagues in student government.  I don’t think that there is a process and I have heard from these students… it’s, as I said been the focus of my tenure in student government.  I have gone to administration.  I have gotten very little cooperation or feedback.  I have been told consistently that conservatives can’t possibly be oppressed as they are in the position as society’s power.  I have had conservative students threatened.  

We have heard some of the instances before where I have taken their concerns to the administration and pretty much been laughed out of the office.  You’ve all talked about FCQs and bias motivated incident reports forms.  FCQs do to not contain any specific instances to mention ideological discrimination.  Most students do not feel as if they read or put enough time in filling all of it out.  As far as bias-related incident responses go, the administration itself is being a student, does not know that she is in-charge of overseeing these.  Most students do not know how to fill them out, where to go, just turn them in or even that it’s an option for conservative students.  It is simply not mentioned.  As far as the funding processes go, that you heard a little bit about earlier; Anne Coulter, Reginald Jones, Dinesh D’Souza, Charlton Heston… these were projects put on pretty much by myself and some of my colleagues in support of conservative students and each one of them was a battle.  Sitting on student government, I watched as conservative students had to jump through more hoops administratively or otherwise than any other groups I have never seen just to get something from them.  Solely because they had a different point of view.  I did not see the broad ranging support but we have heard about.

SENATOR ANDREWS:  Let me just pause you there about the matter of indicted speakers, because the last couple of lines before the footnote on the CU policy summary that was being handed off this morning quotes “the policy of the regents that the university has an obligation to invite speakers of all shades and hues of opinion, diverse knowledge and views and give them a forum where they may express their views without harassment and protect them from indignities.”  Are you saying that in your experience that that recent policy has not been borne out?

KIRK HAMM:  Senator Andrews’s I am very aware of the recent policies and the report issued by CU.  On paper, it looks like very good.  In practice, I would say it is incredibly misleading.  I have never seen it as an easy process to get conservative speakers funded, as I have said.  None of these speakers who have names were easily brought to campus, all of them required a fight.  Often times conservative groups come to myself or to one of my colleagues, solely to get support to push it through student government to go to the administration, to scream loud enough so that they are heard and their voices can get out.  But most of the time it does not happen.  I would say that these are the exceptions to the rule and that the speakers you have heard of have come to campus solely because of the commitment of a few very determined conservative students and their supporters and it is not been an easy fight.  I would say as far as the faculty goes in the administration, but you have not heard about of the hiring processes, you have some evidence of that. 

Over I think six professors of both undergraduates and law school professors have come to me over the past few years to talk on the condition of anonymity because they are afraid of the political consequences about what it is like to go through the hiring processes.  The vice chancellor of faculty affairs tells me that CU hires the best faculty there is available, and they just all always happened to be Democrat.  I find this attitude a bit flippant on what these professors who have come to me have said is that getting hired as conservative is nearly impossible.  Because even though, you are not allowed to ask about political affiliation in an interview, you can gleam it from the writings of a professor or from the lunch you go out to afterwards in an interview.  The faculty then goes back and talks in their committee about how they don’t want that kind of person on their faculty.  And so it becomes an incredibly difficult process to hire a conservative professor.  If becomes even more difficult for a conservative professor to be tenured and most of them feel that they have to keep their writings very neutral, not expressing themselves before they get tenured.  I think we have heard a professor earlier that spoke eloquently of some of the discrimination that goes on and I would say it is definitely in the hiring process. 

The only professor that has been open about this that I know of is Dr. Edward Rozek.  He has been very critically of what he says is the corruption in the hiring processes that need reform.  You have also asked what can be done as a state legislature.  I would affirm the mere fact that we are having this discussion is a good thing and that if things went to the college campuses it forces this issue to be addressed in perhaps a better way than it’s ever been addressed before.  My tenure in student government was devoted to trying to bring these concerns before the Regents, before the administration.  In six years, I am sorry to say that I do not think I’ve had all that much success.  I am hoping that you all can find a way, even if it is just to bring the conversation to the university; to address this cancer that I do think is pervasive in our universities; to remove it, and to give those back to those people who have been silenced and I think that is the most noble goal you can have in this thing.

To read the final part of the transcript of the hearing, Click Here.




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