The Maine Republican Party has unanimously approved language supporting intellectual pluralism on Maine's college campuses in the 2006 Maine Republican Platform. Over 2,500 delegates and Republican activists attending the Maine Republican State Convention voiced resounding approval on Saturday of the Party Platform amendment entitled "A Statement Encouraging Academic Freedom," which was introduced by Maine College Republican Chairman Nathaniel Walton (Bates '08), a Convention Delegate from Androscoggin County. The milestone makes the Maine Republican Party the first major state political party in the United States to include academic freedom language in its Party Platform. Unanimous passage of Party Platform amendments are themselves a rare occurrence.
The amendment text reads as follows: "We believe Maine's college and university classrooms should be a marketplace of ideas where all individuals' political and religious beliefs are respected."
"I am thankful and proud that the Maine Republican Party unanimously approved the inclusion of academic freedom language in the 2006 Maine Republican Platform," said Chairman Walton. "Over the last nine months, the Maine College Republicans have set the national standard for fighting for academic freedom and promoting conservative values on our state's college campuses," Walton remarked.
"The Maine Republican Party's unanimous approval of academic freedom language in the 2006 Maine Republican Platform has brought further attention to one of the most important issues of our time: the intellectual solvency of the next generation," Walton continued.
"America's colleges and universities should not be a place for righteous ideologues' indoctrination of young minds but rather a marketplace of ideas and a forum for intellectual pluralism. This is a difficult campaign; however, with the leadership of the Maine Republican Party and the more than 2,500 Delegates and Republican activists attending the Maine Republican State Convention, I am confident right will ultimately prevail," Walton concluded.
Intellectual diversity and academic freedom have become increasingly important issues of debate in Maine over the last year. In March 2005, 13 Maine College Republicans testified in favor of LD 1194, "An Act to Create an Academic Bill of Rights," at the State House in Augusta. In May 2005, the Bates College student government unanimously endorsed similar legislation, which was also later considered by the University of Maine-Farmington and University of Southern Maine. And in February, the Bowdoin College student government endorsed a declarative statement supporting the creation of an Academic Bias Incident Group.
Chairman Walton is available for interviews/further comments about the unanimous passage of his amendment to the 2006 Maine Republican Platform. Walton can be reached by telephone at (207) 240-4549 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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