I disagree with David Horowitz
that the Pennsylvania hearings on academic freedom have given us anything useful. The recommendations
are very mild.
- Public colleges and universities should review existing academic-freedom policies to ensure that students understand their rights and grievance procedures.
- Schools should provide information about academic-freedom policies and grievance procedures to students during orientation and make the information available in the "student" section of their Web sites.
- Schools should allow students to file complaints with a university official outside the student's degree program, preferably by using an existing office that handles student diversity issues.
- Schools should include questions related to academic freedom on anonymous course-evaluation forms.
- Schools should maintain records of academic-freedom complaints.
- Schools shall submit reports on actions taken in response to recommendations to leaders of the House Subcommittee on Higher Education no later than Nov. 1, 2008.
The irony of using a diversity office to handle academic freedom questions for students should not be lost on readers of this blog; do we really think the affirmative action officer of a campus will be up-to-date and sensitive to issues of academic freedom for students? The state universities believe
they've already met most of these requirements. Interestingly, Students for Academic Freedom
believes a seventh recommendation exists, namely an "Office of Academic Standards and Intellectual Diversity" to set standards and advance academic freedom. I don't see that in other news reports -- correct me please if I'm wrong -- and at any rate the recommendations have not been reported out of committee; the next meeting is scheduled for November 21. If that office is actually required on campuses, I will take back the title of this post -- I'm not sure I like the idea, but creation of those offices would be a strong statement that student academic freedom is being taken seriously.