As we have reported in these pages, the trustees of the College of DuPage attempted to protect students from faculty abuses including:
1) assigning texts representing only one side of controversial issues;
2) attempting to recruit students to the professor's personal political causes;
3) inviting speakers representing only one side of controversial issues to campus.
As it has all over the country, the American Association of University Professors which is now in the hands of radical ideologues opposed this attempt to institute principles which were first articulated by the AAUP itself in 1915 and allegedly the principles that guide academic practice to this day. The Academic Bill of Rights is simply and modestly an attempt to see that these principles are honored. Aided by the huge union treasury of the National Education Association, the opponents of the Du Page reform poured $100,000 into a trustee election which resulted in an ideological majority for the proponents of turning American classrooms into political indoctrination and recruitment centers for the socialist left. Their first act was to rescind the reform.
A letter has been submitted to the Chicago Tribune defending this educational atrocity, signed by the General Secretary of the AAUP Gary Rhodes. The mendacity of the letter is typical of the AAUP’s campaign to defend faculty ideologues who want to use their classrooms to brainwash students in their political prejudices. Its main argument is this: “Our nation’s founders would have gagged on this particular bill of rights. In direct contrast to the country’s Bill of Rights, which protects individuals against the state, ABOR allows politicians to decide what viewpoints are suitable for a classroom, and imposes political controls on campus and faculty speech.” This is a lie. The DuPage academic bill of rights has absolutely nothing to do with legislators or the state. It was a policy adopted by the trustees of the college and did not involve any state influence or authority. There are no political controls in the bill (which can be read at www.studentsforacademicfreedom.org). It does not allow politicians to decide anything, let alone what viewpoints are suitable for a classroom. The Academic Bill of Rights is and always has been viewpoint neutral. It would be hard to imagine a more cynical statement than what is contained in this letter considering that its false claims cannot possibly be mistakes since this argument was joined six years ago and the facts have never changed.
May 12, 2009
A recent article in the Chicago Tribune about the incoming College of DuPage board’s actions (May 8, 2009, New College of DuPage board rescinds academic Bill of Rights) offered an incomplete view of the context, and fell victim to the very pitfalls of the misleadingly named Academic Bill of Rights (ABOR). In presenting the situation as a balanced split between proponents and opponents of the measure, misrepresents the situation, misses the broader context, and overlooks the facts of the case.
Our nation’s founders would have gagged on this particular bill of rights. In direct contrast to the country’s Bill of Rights, which protects individuals against the state, ABOR allows politicians to decide what viewpoints are suitable for a classroom, and imposes political controls on campus and faculty speech. The American Association of University Professors characterizes the bill as posing “a grave threat to fundamental principles of academic freedom” and as compromising the ability of faculty to provide a quality education to students.
Nationally, ABOR has been widely rejected. A little research on the topic would have revealed that similar such measures have been systematically tabled and/or rejected in the nearly 30 state legislatures that have considered them. It is misrepresenting the situation to report simply that some groups and individuals say one thing about ABOR and others say another, as if there are equal numbers on both sides. A large coalition of various academic and faculty groups, called Free Exchange on Campus, which includes the U.S. Students Association (the nation’s oldest and largest student led organization), the Association of College and Research Libraries, and the National Writers Union, tracks and opposes such legislation.
Moreover, the College of DuPage is the only college--out of over 4,000--in the country to have adopted the now rescinded policy.
The autocratic and ill-advised fashion in which ABOR was imposed from above on the College of DuPage, without consulting with and against the will of faculty, violates basic widespread principles of shared governance and sound management practice. COD's current board decided correctly to restore responsible academic practices and policies, consistent with the prevailing and dominant views about and practices in quality educational institutions.
We applaud the board’s decision. We urge the board to stand by that decision. As indicated in a May 4, 2009 joint letter to the board from the AAUP and the National Council for Higher Education of the National Education Association, the students and the community of the College of DuPage are best served by and deserve an institution in which the board works with, not against, faculty and staff in the educational interests of the students, rather than in the ideological interests of those who wish to politically dictate appropriate knowledge in classrooms and to determine class readings according to political rather than educational criteria.
American Association of University Professors
Walter J. Kendall, Peter N. Kirstein, Lee Maltby, and Ken Anderson.
Illinois Executive Committee
American Association of University Professors