Feb 172004
Authors: Chris Kampfe

In a special session called Tuesday night, the Associated Students of CSU Senate upheld their decision to oppose the academic bill of rights in the Colorado Legislature with a vote of 19 -1-1.

The special session began with comments from the gallery, which were comprised mostly from people advocating the bill.

Key speakers from the gallery included members of the Student Republicans at CSU and officials from the Students for Academic Freedom.

Members in the gallery stated their disapproval of the ASCSU bill by relating anecdotal evidence of students across the state that feel they are discriminated against on campuses across the state.

One such piece of evidence came from Erin Bergstrom, assistant state director for SAF.

“(I heard) about a girl who had a full ride here and dropped out after a month because of (ideological discrimination),” Bergstrom said.

Bergstrom said that had the girl known about grievance policies for such situations as these, she might have stayed.

Members of the Student Republicans offered similar situations as well as expressing concerns for a lack of policy in the state legislature.

Concerns expressed included inadequate time given to the issue by ASCSU, substandard grievances policies at CSU and what they believe to be unfounded allegations against the bill.

A prominent voice from the gallery was Robert Lee, president of CSU’s chapter of SAF.

“Grievance policies up here are not sufficient and are ineffective,” Lee said. “The presumption that professor’s voices will be stifled is a red herring, and is just drawing attention away from the real issue.”

Before the bill was put before senate vote to amend and pass, Jesse Lauchner, president of ASCSU was given an opportunity to take the floor and voice his stance on the issue and field questions.

Though Lauchner professed it is important that the senate decide where their position lies, he said he would stand firm by his belief that CSU already has necessary grievance policies in place and the control of the issue should remain with CSU.

“This is very important. You don’t know what will happen when the state gets control of what you’re doing at the university level,” Lauchner said. “Leave control at the university. Problems with policies should be made at CSU and by CSU. Giving control of our policies to state legislature is dangerous.”

Lauchner said the American Association University Professors has taken a formal opposition to the house bill.

“The AAUP (think) conversation in the academic realm would no longer be in existence,” Lauchner said. “We’re also looking to protect the professors here, because it represents a quality in education issue.”

Lauchner finished the questions by reiterating to the senate and gallery that he was not against student rights, but that schools and not legislators should manage them.

“If you don’t agree with the policy, then let us be the organization to help you make changes here on campus,” Lauchner said. “There are no roadblocks stopping (ASCSU) from being involved. I would be committed to helping out on campus, because (ASCSU) has the connections.”

After the bill was passed Jason Huitt, speaker Pro tempore expressed his approval of the bill being passed and the senate’s productive collaboration in doing so. SAF representative Bergstrom declined comment on the proceedings.

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