To the editor:

Feb 082006

As a fellow CSU Alum, and founder of the Students for Academic Freedom (SAF) organization that Patrick Hume indicts in his recent letter to the editor, I feel a few things need to be cleared up.

First, Mr. Hume, like so many individuals with their own personal agendas at CSU, needs to realize that the academic freedom on campus was never about the specific ideologies of professors. You can't regulate opinion.

However, you can regulate the amount of access students have to the appeal or grievance process when a professor oversteps their bounds. That is the progress SAF at CSU sought to achieve. (See a report on CSU's grievance procedures published around that same time in 2003).

Second, SAF was formed as a result of many students claiming to not know what they can do in response to abusiveness. As the campus director and founder of SAF, I took complaints and instructed students on what to do when facing harassment, both from right and left leaning professors. The advice I gave them was not to focus on the message the professor had, but the environment the professor created.

Some had valid complaints, others did not.

Third, save the empty "puff piece" rhetoric for rants inside your own head, Mr. Hume. CSU never engaged in a "witch hunt," and SAF never wished to see any professors fired or to have an "affirmative action" policy hiring more conservatives. For all the many Horowitz's out there, there are just as many liberals who actively claim conservatives should be kept out of academia. Either argument is irrelevant and invalid.

Academic freedom is about the right to express your ideas and be free from harassment that would prevent otherwise – liberal or conservative.

If you, and others like you, believe students should not be free to express their opinions in the classroom, and seek due process when they feel they've been silenced, then the glove of McCarthy is not on my hand. Keep your politics out of the classroom, unless your politics are to engage in a thoughtful discussion about what academic freedom is for faculty and students alike, and what should be available to faculty and students alike when such freedom is not respected.

Robert Lee

political science, Class of 2004

Founder of Students for Academic Freedom at CSU

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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