Thursday, March 24, 2005

FREE TO BE YOU AND ME, AND TO GO SOMEWHERE ELSE FOR YOUR Ph.D. Before the release of an internal report on charges of student intimidation by wrongthinking Professors, Columbia President Lee C. Bollinger spoke the obvious, which, alas, apparently needed to be spoken. Per the NYT:
"We should not say that academic freedom means that there is no review within the university, no accountability, for the 'content' of our classes or our scholarship," he said. "There is a review, it does have consequences, and it does consider content"...

"The question is not whether a professor advocates a view," he said, "but whether the overall design of the class, and course, is to explore the full range of the complexity of the subject"...

While stressing that the university would not tolerate intimidation of students in the classroom, Mr. Bollinger stressed that "we will not punish professors -- or students -- for the speech or ideas they express as part of public debate and public issues"...

He also rejected the "academic bill of rights" proposed by David Horowitz, a conservative activist, that, he said, calls for a plurality of methodologies and perspectives in both hiring and curricula -- a proposal some state legislators are considering.

"We should not accept the idea that the remedy for lapses is to add more professors with different political points of view, as some would have us do," Mr. Bollinger said. "The notion of a balanced curriculum, in which students can, in effect, select and compensate for bias, sacrifices the essential norm of what we are supposed to be about in a university. It's like saying of doctors in a hospital that there should be more Republicans, or more Democrats. It also risks polarization of the university, where liberals take courses from liberal professionals and conservatives take conservatives classes."
The slap at Horowitz -- whose schemes for outside review of classroom content have, as I've said before, very unpleasant historical connotations -- is especially pleasing, but on the whole this should be unobjectionable to anyone who believes in academic freedom, not as a Constitutional matter, but as a vital component of Western Civilization.

Of course, that description may not be a good fit for the Ole Perfesser, who once suggested that the hate mail his readers wanted to send Nicholas De Genova might be more profitably sent to Bollinger, and even helpfully provided Bollinger's email address.

To repeat myself once again, students who do not like their Columbia education can always transfer to Liberty University. That's the free market in action, baby! I thought these guys believed in it.

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