LEWISTON -- The Maine College Republicans express strong support of Lewiston High School senior Brent Bowen, whose First Amendment rights were violated by a member of the school’s faculty during an unfortunate incident there last week.
The incident occurred last Monday when Bowen, who founded the first Teenage Republican chapter in Maine, was handing out copies of the official Maine College Republican newspaper, "The Pachyderm Press," in the school cafeteria: “After handing out the paper at the first lunch, an openly socialist teacher came up and questioned me,” recounted Bowen. “She asked whether I had permission to hand out the paper.” After replying that there was no policy regarding handouts at lunch, the faculty member then told Bowen he had to get permission from school administrators to continue handing the newspaper out. “I didn’t know I needed permission to practice free speech,” Bowen remarked.
After receiving the support of the school’s vice principal to continue handing out The Pachyderm Press, Bowen was confronted by a group of faculty who threatened him with suspension. “It’s actually not the first time I’ve been threatened like that because of my political views,” said Bowen. “Another Lewiston High School faculty member ripped four or five of the newspapers up in frustration after hearing I had permission to distribute them. The papers certainly made quite a splash at Lewiston High,” he concluded.
Nathaniel Walton (Bates ’08), Chairman of the Maine College Republicans, is appalled by the violation of Bowen’s First Amendment rights: “I spend so much of my time discussing classroom bias and lack of academic freedom on Maine’s college campuses. It is profoundly disappointing to see the same problems are rampant on the K-12 level as well.”
“The behavior of these faculty members is as unprofessional as it is reprehensible and should be subject to official review by Lewiston education officials," Walton added as he urged an investigation. "I have worked with Brent and know him to be an upstanding young man undeserving of such treatment. The Maine College Republicans stand solidly behind Brent in his fight for academic freedom,” concluded Walton.
Bowen’s incident comes less than a week after renowned conservative author and academic freedom advocate David Horowitz visited two Maine college campuses to discuss academic freedom issues. Horowitz’s visit received significant press attention and raised greater awareness of the problem of classroom bias on Maine’s college campuses.
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