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My Secret Meeting with Governor Owens By: David Horowitz
FrontPageMagazine.com | Wednesday, September 17, 2003

The faculty senate at Metro State College, where I am scheduled to speak in two weeks is up in arms. According to a report by Tillie Fong in the Rocky Mountain News (9/13/03), under a headline, “Threat To Academic Freedom Feared,” Fong reports: “The Faculty Senate … is calling for an investigation into a move by Republican legislators to require Colorado colleges and universities to seek and hire a greater number of conservative faculty.”

This is truly Orwellian. The alleged threat to academic freedom is an Academic Bill of Rights that forbids colleges from specifically hiring conservatives – or liberals.  If the Bill of Rights were adopted, Metropolitan State College of Denver would actually be barred from setting out to hire a greater number of conservatives. Under the terms of the Bill, they would be forced to hire faculty on the basis of academic merit, not their political views. Perhaps this is why the professors are actually upset.


How upset? They are also calling for an investigation into a “secret meeting” I am alleged to have had with Governor Owens and Colorado legislators. The faculty senate is petitioning interim President Ray Kieft and the Board of Trustees to “launch an investigation ‘into the scope and extent of the secret meeting with Mr. Horowitz, and any possible threat to academic freedom and curricular responsibility that might flow from such meetings.’”


My “secret” meeting with Governor Owens (which in fact was separate from the meeting I had with legislators) went like this: I have known Governor Owens for a long time. He has been a speaker at my Restoration Weekend at the Colorado Springs Broadmoor. When I knew I was going to be in Colorado last June, I had my office call his scheduler and ask for an appointment. The appointment is on his calendar and mine. That’s it. Should the governor not meet with friends, or public figures like myself? Should I not offer him my ideas when we meet?


My meeting with a group that included some Colorado legislators was of similar character. My office invited a group of prominent Coloradans (not all of them legislators) to the Brown Palace Hotel for breakfast in order that I could present my ideas on academic freedom, which has been an interest of mine for many years.


What appears to be going on in Colorado now is a witch-hunt launched by the faculty senate of Metro State. This is a hunt in the Salem sense of looking for witches that don’t exist. No Republican in the state of Colorado is calling for the imposition of quotas; or for the specific hiring of conservatives (though it would be nice if the faculty senates of Colorado universities looked into their own hiring practices to ascertain why so few conservatives seem to make the grade).


According to the News, the demand for an investigation will be formally presented next week. “‘What we really want to know is what was the purpose of the secret meeting with David Horowitz, and what was the outcome?’ Foster said Friday.” I will tell the professors without the investigation. The purpose of the meeting was to lay out the ideas contained in The Academic Bill of Rights. These ideas are not secret at all, since they have been posted on my website at www.studentsforacademicfreedom.org for several months.


Moreover, they are indistinguishable from the ideas of academic freedom set forth in a hundred years of precedents by the American Association of University Professors. These precedents are laid out in the preamble to the Academic Bill of Rights.


Anyone reading the Academic Bill of Rights will see that it is a document that Democrats as well as Republicans, liberals as well as conservatives can wholeheartedly support. There is not a single partisan clause in this Bill. It will protect anti-war liberal professors and pro-war conservative professors even-handedly. It guarantees professors the right to speak their minds and keep their jobs. It does more, however. It also guarantees that students will not be harassed in the classroom or given bad grades if they have political views that are different from their professors. It also supports their right to have access to texts that reflect many viewpoints and not just one. Perhaps it is these student rights that the professors are afraid of.


Certainly the Orwellian reality in Denver could use a dose of the principles codified in the Academic Bill of Rights: “The [faculty senate] petition also asks that Metro State officials denounce the Academic Bill of Rights and issue a statement about upholding the principles of academic freedom.”


I've got news for the Metro professors. If Metro State officials denounce the Academic Bill of Rights they will be denouncing the rights the faculty thinks they are protecting and they will be striking a blow against academic freedom. Perhaps what the faculty senate at Metro State College could really use is a mandatory course in remedial reading.

David Horowitz is the founder of The David Horowitz Freedom Center and author of the new book, One Party Classroom.

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