Feb 022004
 
Authors: Chris Kampfe

Despite the fact CSU already has policies in place to protect

freedom of speech in the classroom, an academic bill of rights to

do just that was recently proposed in the Colorado General

Assembly.

The bill, proposed by Rep. Shawn Mitchell (R), has received

increasing interest across the state. If the bill is passed, it

could force state universities to implement changes in their

grievance procedures for students who feel they are being

politically harassed or discriminated against.

Representatives from the Office of Equal Opportunity as well as

Conflict Resolution and Student Conduct Services said they have

never received formal complaints from students because of political

prejudice.

“In all honesty, I can’t remember any (complaints) I’ve worked

on in which political affiliation was discussed,” said Roselyn

Cutler, associate director of the Office of Equal Opportunity. “But

expressing an opinion is not necessarily in and of itself a

violation of a student’s rights.”

Cutler said complaints of a political nature are not written in

policy in her office because, with the exception of a sexual

orientation policy, it only deals with federal and state civil

rights laws.

Conflict Resolution and Student Conduct Services is designed to

receive complaints dealing with political affiliation.

The Student Rights and Responsibilities pamphlet distributed by

the Division of Student Affairs states, “Students have the right to

freedom from discrimination or harassment on the basis of race,

ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, creed, political

beliefs, national origin, age or handicap.”

Anne Hudgens, the executive director for Campus Life, feels that

policies are already in place to handle political grievances.

“I don’t know that any additional legislation is needed. I think

the rights are embedded and policy is already in place,” said

Hudgens, who works in CRSCS. “I think it’s important for students

to know that we do have (policies) in place that deal with this and

that we’re here to help. Any student who has any sort of concern is

welcome.”

Bill Chaloupka, chair of the political science department, is

aware that his department is one that might come under some

scrutiny from the proposed bill.

“My sense is, is that this is a department that takes its work

seriously and (the professors) are thoughtful about what they

teach,” Chaloupka said. “We know that this is potentially

controversial, what we do. But we think it’s really important and

sometimes controversy and importance are closely related.”

While some teachers may be intimidated by the proposed bill,

Chaloupka said he feels encouraged because so many students have

been thoughtful and respectful.

“I think (opinions) are going to exist no matter what. No matter

if you’re conservative or liberal, you just shouldn’t take too

personal what people say,” said Evan Gonzalez, a freshman political

science major. Gonzalez, who is enrolled in professor Robert

Lawrence’s class American Government and Politics, said he hasn’t

noticed any political biases from Lawrence and feels comfortable in

the class.

The Associated Students of CSU is also aware of the bill in

proposal and is currently discussing it.

“The bill has been shown to the senate, and it’s probably

something that ASCSU will be engaging on through at least the end

of the week,” said Ryan Miccio, director of legislative affairs for

ASCSU.

Miccio added that he did not believe the bill would be supported

by ASCSU because the senate believes CSU already has appropriate

policies in place.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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