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Education Reporter

Academic Bill of Rights Introduced in Congress 
Jack Kingston
Jack Kingston
Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA) and Rep. Walter B. Jones (R-NC) introduced a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives on October 22 calling on colleges to end discrimination against hiring conservative faculty and to bring intellectual diversity to campus.

"These institutions constantly preach the value of diversity in their student body and faculty. This bill only seeks to promote the most important diversity of all - the diversity of ideas," Rep. Kingston said. "At almost every American university, conservative professors are drastically outnumbered. And the number of liberal guest speakers outnumbers the number of conservative guest speakers by a margin greater than 10-1."

The non-binding resolution is based on activist David Horowitz's proposal of the same name, but differs from it in that the bill in Congress has no penalties. The bill recommends that hiring, firing and promoting faculty be based on competence, not politics, and that students' grades be based on their ability to give reasoned answers, not on religious or political beliefs.

Although the number of registered Republicans and Democrats is roughly the same in the United States, a recent study by Horowitz's Center for Study of Popular Culture of 32 colleges and universities disclosed a huge imbalance among faculty and administrators. For example, at the Ivy League Cornell University, 95% of the faculty members who are registered to vote in its county are Democrats. Only one of 23 government department faculty members is a registered Republican. In all Ivy League schools, only three administrators identified themselves as Republicans.

"Most students probably graduate without ever having a class taught by a professor with a conservative viewpoint," observed Kingston.

A week after Kingston's bill was introduced in the House, a Senate committee held a hearing on the issue of liberal bias on campus. Witnesses testified that colleges intimidate students and faculty, forcing them to take "diversity training" and condoning harassment of students who write conservative columns for campus publications.

"Rather than fostering intellectual diversity . our colleges and universities are increasingly bastions of political correctness hostile to free exchange of ideas," said Anne Neal, president of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, at the October 29 hearing of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. (ajc.com, 10-30-03)

Committee chairman Judd Gregg (R-NH) said the hearing was one of a series that will focus on academic freedom. Future subjects will include textbooks and the accreditation process in higher education.

The partisan imbalance in college staffing persists even as students become more Republican. A new poll by Harvard's Institute of Politics found that 61% of students give President Bush a positive job approval rating, and 39% said they would vote for Bush against a Democratic contender next year. Only 34% said they would vote for a Democrat. The Bush approval rating for students was about 8 percentage points higher than that of the general public.

Conservative students are increasingly fighting back against campus intolerance of their views. Students have sued Shippensburg University, Texas Tech University and a California community college as part of a campaign to abolish campus speech codes initiated by the Philadelphia-based Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). Christian students have gone to court on First Amendment grounds, most recently in a case against the University of Minnesota. Horowitz's new organization Students for Academic Freedom has attracted students on about 90 campuses in just four months, with the goal of demanding that administrations seek a more balanced point of view among faculty and in programs such as lecture series. (usatoday.com, 11-3-03)

A group of conservative students at the University of Texas has begun compiling a "Professor Watch List" to warn students about professors who allegedly use their classes for liberal indoctrination. (CNSNews.com, 11-06-03)

An outraged parent has created a non-profit web site, Noindoctrination.org, where students may anonymously post reports of bias on their campuses and professors are rated.

Officials at Saint Louis University and the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa recently backed down from policies against flag displays in dormitories.

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