A bill will be introduced today designed to protect the civil
rights of students in higher education.
The bill is an academic bill of rights and will address the
neutrality of universities in relation to political and religious
A student group at the University of Colorado-Boulder recently
put a link on its organization’s Web site for students to report
politically biased professors.
Brad Jones, 20, the chairman of the College Republicans at CU
and the student who posted the site, is worried that a new semester
starting might be a start up of indoctrination in the
“If your biology professor chooses to talk about how (Howard)
Dean is the best Democratic candidate instead of explaining how
cell reproduction works, we need to hear about it,” Jones said in a
Denver Post article.
Jones and the College Republicans at CU are affiliated with the
Students for Academic Freedom (SAF), a group formed by California
conservative activist David Horowitz. SAF is a group that says its
mission is to promote diversity on campus and defend students’
right to be treated equally on campus, regardless of political or
Robert Lee, a senior at CSU as well as the state vice chairmen
for College Republicans, looks to bring a chapter of SAF to
“I think there’s a bias on campus, whether or not it actually
harms students’ grades,” Lee said. “We know that when students
report cases some are overblown, but some are legitimate.”
Horowitz said the issue of biased classrooms and professors
emerged when he was visiting campuses around the country.
“It was seven or eight years ago I spoke at St. Johns when I
started realizing that there is always more than one side to any
question, and if (the universities) aren’t addressing different
sides, you’re being robbed of an education,” Horowitz said. “I met
a girl there who was a criminal justice major whose older sister
was murdered. When we started talking about capital punishment, she
said she had no idea there was actually material supporting capital
punishment because her professor had never presented any. That’s
Horowitz came to Colorado last June, which is also when SAF
Bill Chaloupka, chair of the political science department, has
been following the movement since its inception.
“It seems that Colorado is a test bed for the proposal,”
Chaloupka said. “In the Academic Bill of Rights seen on the
American Association of University Professor’s (AAUP) Web site,
Colorado is the only state even mentioned.”
Horowitz said he has given speeches on campus where he would
have to be escorted by security to and from the facilities because
of potential physical and verbal harassment.
“You can’t have real discussions about things like Affirmative
Action,” Horowitz said. “People’s tempers rise and people are
intimidated to say how they feel.”
Chaloupka sees the situation differently.
“I would like to see civil debate without intimidation,”
Chaloupka said. “It’s also the case that sometime Mr. Horowitz says
some inflammatory things. If fire is your medium there’s going to
be heat around you. Not that your free speech shouldn’t be
protected, but not expecting a response is na�ve.”
Though CU’s Republicans do have an affiliation with the SAF,
Horowitz said, “It’s not about conservatives by any means. It’s
about stopping professors from abusing the classroom.”
Because SAF has such affiliations with Republicans, some people
often view their motives as conservatively driven.
“Right now, all such efforts to show a neutral organization fall
under the shadow of names like Horowitz, Sen. (John) Andrews and
Gov. Owens — all partisan Republicans,” Chaloupka said. “It will
be hard for (SAF) to separate themselves from that shadow.”
Ryan Call, a law student at University of Denver and the state
coordinator for SAF, has noticed some predisposition to the group
“The issue is that freedom of speech and freedom of conscience
rights are being neglected by professors,” Call said. “Horowitz
didn’t even want his name associated with policy suggestions. It’s
unfortunate Democrats are using this to take shots at
Another goal of SAF is to introduce into legislation an Academic
Bill of Rights.
Rep. Shawn Mitchell dispelled the rumors that legislators would
not deal with the issue.
“I think that reporters are inferring it’s not around anymore
because so much time passed,” Mitchell said. “It’s a delicate
subject matter to legislate because it’s hard to legislate civil
actions. This bill will borrow (language) from other civil rights
So far, three main points are known that the bill will address.
First, that students can expect professors will not create hostile
environments relating to students religious or political beliefs.
Second, students have the right to expect that they will be graded
solely on performance and not have their work discriminated against
because of political and religious material. Lastly, students have
the right to expect their academic institution to distribute
student fee funds on a viewpoint-neutral basis.