Skip to comments.Cornell Rejects Academic Freedom
Posted on 05/10/2004 3:38:17 PM PDT by swilhelm73
After banning the press from videotaping its weekly meeting, the Cornell University Student Assembly (SA) rejected the Academic Bill of Rights. Citing the documents objectives as redundant, irrelevant, insulting, and objectionable, the SA determined that academic freedom was unimportant to the Ivy League campus.
The Resolution on Academic Freedom based on David Horowitzs Academic Bill of Rights was introduced by a bipartisan coalition of Cornell students, including the editor-in-chief of The Cornell Daily Sun. The resolution stated that the SA affirms [the] principles of academic freedom and intellectual diversity and went on to cite six principles:
(1) Students should be graded on the basis of their reasoned answers and appropriate knowledge of the disciplines they study.
(2) Curricula and reading lists in the humanities and social sciences should provide students with dissenting viewpoints where appropriate.
(3) Faculty should not use their courses for the political, ideological, religious, or anti-religious indoctrination.
(4) All faculty should be hired, fired, or promoted and granted tenure on the basis on their competence and appropriate knowledge in the field of their expertise.
(5) Selection of speakers [and] allocation of funds should not discriminate on the basis of his or her political or ideological affiliation.
(6) The obstruction of invited campus speakers, destruction of campus literature, or any other efforts to inhibit the civil exchange of ideas should not be tolerated.
Any reasonable person, whatever his political philosophy, should agree with the abovementioned tenets if he is committed to intellectual diversity. Unfortunately, Cornell leftists will do anything including censorship to hold on to their monopoly of power.
The debate on the Academic Bill of Rights got off to an auspicious start when SA representative Michelle Fernandes tried to eject Cornell American editor-in-chief Ryan Horn from the meeting. Horn, a well-known conservative journalist on campus, brought a digital camcorder to the event to record the debate. Fernandes raised an objection to Horns presence saying, Point of privilege. I want [him] to stop videotaping. Horn replied, Respectfully, no. Nick Linder, president of the SA, then ordered, As chair, I have to ask you to leave the meeting. Its my duty to uphold that. Turn that off or leave
Horn expressed outrage and cited his First Amendment rights. He defiantly ignored Linders decision, remained in his seat, and secretly videotaped the entire affair.
Following the camcorder fiasco, Cornell Democrats president Tim Lim thinking he was speaking off the record slammed the Academic Bill of Rights as a publicity stunt [by] neoconservatives such as David Horowitz. Lim then went on to claim that promoting academic freedom was a part of a partisan conspiracy engineered by the College Republicans.
The liberal Democrats controlled the entire tenor of the debate. Leftist Brennan Veys amended the resolution by removing two key phrases from the bill: (i) students should be graded on the basis of their reasoned answers and appropriate knowledge of the subjects and (ii) all faculty should be hired, fired, and promoted, and granted tenure on the basis of their competence. He claimed that including these clauses in an Academic Bill of Rights was an insult to Cornells faculty.
When Veys was confronted with certain facts namely that 97 percent of Cornells faculty are Leftists and that 21 of 23 government department professors are registered Democrats he shook his head dismissively. Ross Blankenship, a co-sponsor of the bill, asked Veys, How comfortable do you think a Cornell student is in writing an essay in support of President Bush? At this question, the Democrats laughed hysterically, indicating that Blankenship was paranoid.
When the votes were tallied (8 in favor, 9 against), SA president Linder announced his final judgment, The chair will cast a vote in, uh, the negative. He then smirked at the co-sponsors of the bill, waved them off, and said, Have a nice day. And with that, the Academic Bill of Rights died at Cornell.
Cornell University has a shameful record on intellectual diversity. There is no tolerance for conservative ideas among the faculty, the administration, or the student government. At every turn, the instinct of radical leftists is to censor those views with which they disagree. They have succeeded, in large part, because their totalitarian judgments are enacted under the cover of darkness. That is precisely why the Student Assembly tried to ban video coverage of its Politburo-style meeting.
The debate (or lack thereof) over the Academic Bill of Rights at Cornell revealed precisely why this measure is so desperately needed here. And that is why Cornellians committed to intellectual diversity will continue to fight for it.
This represents an amazing historical evolution, at least in the case of liberals. Over the last 100 years, liberals have adapted the complete diametrically opposed opposite of their original philosophy and positions.
It is really amazing to watch, especially in such a 21st Century toilet like Cornell.
Academic freedom is vital to a university's intellectual culture. When it comes from a genuinely nonpartisan source, then there can be a healthy discussion.
It's even funnier that they don't realize it.
Which points on the list do you see as being anything other then "genuinely nonpartisan"?
(1) Students should be graded on the basis of their reasoned answers and appropriate knowledge of the disciplines they study.
If a student's grade may be reduced for a difference of political ideology there is no academic freedom.
The language is that of deceptive neutrality and is obviously disingenuous. I have never been in a university course where dissenting viewpoints were not discussed. When you take a class on Freud, you hear from Freud's critics. When you take a class on existential philosophy, you hear from the critics of that philosophy. What is meant here, if I can read between the lines, is politically or ideologically dissenting viewpoints. As in, viewpoints that espouse a non-Marxist, non-postmodernist, non-liberal point of view. Which is a healthy thing, I think. But I prefer language that says what it means.
And beside that, what about the sciences, engineering, business schools? Academic freedom is easily as threatened, if not more, in those disciplines.
(3) Faculty should not use their courses for the purposes of political, ideological, religious, or anti-religious indoctrination.
Agreed. But the language again is highly politicized. The focus is on faculty and the influence they wield in the classroom. Only certain threats to academic freedom are mentioned -- some of the most pernicious, including government interference in curriculum, and the potential conflict between corporate and academic research interest aren't even mentioned. The focus is exclusively on socio-political considerations, and the sciences are hardly mentioned. There is much more to academic freedom.
There is nothing nonpartisan about it. That being said, there are many good points in it. I just think they would be more credible coming from someone other than Horowitz. I've never liked that guy.
theres an awful smell.
Could it be Cayugas waters?
No it must be Cornell."
In fact, the content of the principles is what doomed them. The close vote was a sham engineered to look like there is a chance of reasoned debate in the institution. The lack of reasoned debate and insistence that there be no record proves that. The event shows that the left at academic campi throughout America have been captured by totalitarians where freedom, diversity and academic freedom to voice dissenting views, are anathama to the commisars in charge.
Think like a totalitarian.
Haven't meet any leftie academics lately, huh?
I suspect that you really do not know the extent to which self-censorship occurs among your peers. Among your professors there is a substantial number who censor themselves and others who censor thier students. I detect in your comments here a form of castigation based on identity or "source" of an opinion which predetermines your ability to listen or consider a position.
What is it you don't like about Horowitz? That he is fearlessly confrontive? That he tells the uncomfortable truths about what exists on university campi today? I doubt yo could reasonably object to position other than in an ad hominem way which objects to the "mess" or offense he causes by speaking out.
Also, you seem to mischaracterize what was said in my post. I agree that much of what is taught in the social sciences and humanities is distorted through a Marxist, socialist lens. I said it was healthy to encourage "viewpoints that espouse a non-Marxist, non-postmodernist, non-liberal point of view." What I disagreed with was Horowitz's deliberate effort to couch that truth in depoliticized language. Is this too nuanced a point?
The whole bit about corporate influence being a "red herring" is nice; the conflict between corporate interest (which seeks, often justifiably, to protect and keep secret IP) and academia (which usually seeks to publish information openly) is well-documented and crucial to any serious debate about 'academic freedom.'
BTW, the plural of campuses is not 'campi.' Ironic that you deride my education.
Of course it is reasonable. However, Ithaca is the City of Evil.
It's still a land grant university and about half of it is in the state run SUNY system.
Yeah, I am much more simple than you. I do not believe that you are saying anything meaningful in your objection to "depoliticized language" !
We are talking about a principle of academic freedom to speak without fear of intimidation and improper sanctions for diverse points of view. Do you require that the securing of rights to say things be tagged to a specified political identity of what might be said. No, I have got you right, despite my simplicity. You still want to tag people so as to arbitrate who can say what, when and where. That is why you find the expression of rights in "depoliticized language" so bothersome. It creates too much freedom.
You do not like me perceiving [and stating] what is packed into your position and manner of expression. I think I am right on.
Corporate funding of research is irrelevant to the discussion of student academic rights. To insist on it is to insist on the red herring. Talk about it at another time, if you will. The freedom of students to be exposed to diverse intellectual POV including a diverse intellectual faculty, is what is the topic here. So what that Horowitz sees discrimination and intimidation of certain religious and political POV and proposes principles of specific academic freedoms that would answer the threats that he perceives. Why is that offensive to you? Why? [I suspect you have fallen victim to identity politics and will only allow certain "certified" POV to be heard. If you don't precertify, you may hear something you have not already tagged. I am sorry but this is actually an old Marxist tactic and if you are innocent of its origins, then this only shows the degree of its infiltration into the academy in supposed sheep's clothing. ]
I can only conclude you have some other agenda or purpose for objecting to the "depoliticized language".
I did not deride your education but your naivite' and lack of experience with what true academic freedom really is.
Liberals are in absolute denial of their ferocious opposition to freedom!
I really wonder why this is. Of course, the initial answer is that they are not really liberals, but only propoents of positions which once were held by liberals.
I get that part. But why do people fear freedom so much??? For themselves and for others??? It cannot simply be naivite' or ignorance, but I can't simply impute a cravenness that prefers tyrrany unless it is a psychological fear of chaos or mess that freedom entails.
It would be a type that is uneasy without extrinsic structure. Those who do not have inner structure or an inner demand or search for structure, feel lost and threatened by the lessening of external structure for themselves ... and the others.
Depoliticized language is the deliberately misleading, agenda-masking language used by people who want their viewpoints to remain hidden behind a patina of objectivity. Horowitz's Center for the Study of Popular Culture is one example of this: the name would lead you to believe it is an objective foundation that studies, say, aspects of popular culture. A cursory glance at its contents tells you otherwise. Deliberately misleading, 'depoliticized' language. It makes me sick. Say what you are. Have the courage of your convictions.
Since you seem so intent on psychoanalyzing me (though you know virtually nothing about me), let me subject Mr. Horowitz to a little headshrinking. My impression of Horowitz is that he is stuck in a toxic love/hate relationship with the academy. He yearns to be accepted by it, yet he knows that his own simple-minded and mean-spirited analyses would be ridiculed by academics. He would probably not be published in reputable journals, not because he is being "persecuted" but because his ideas are so intellectually arid. He specializes in whiny, shrill screeds that are characterized more by a petulant rage than a reasoned response. Like many former liberals, he seems poisoned by a sense of betrayal, that the world has somehow let him down.
It is amazing to even have a discussion about the nonpartisan nature of the "Academic Bill of Rights." Horowitz himself lays out his agenda much more honestly and bluntly on the FrontPage website: "Im eager to continue taking the pro-America message into the trenches to battle the leftists -- and give conservative students the courage to battle back!" Ok, Horry, now your cards are on the table. That's at least an honest response.
You ask, Do you require that the securing of rights to say things be tagged to a specified political identity of what might be said.
I never said anything like this. And no, I wouldn't. I think the problem is when someone refuses to admit the "political identity" of what they are saying. When they use de-fanged language to 'sell' their ideas.
You mean like the American Civil Liberties Union, People For The American Way, and radio programs named Democracy Now and All Things Considered?
The ACLU says they fight for civil liberties, and that they do, for the Klan or for students' rights (though they're hardly perfect; they had a shameful period of collusion with the FBI). The People For The American Way has the neutral-sounding name of the interest group.
The ACLU fights Chrisitianity in the schools and the "public square" but does not challenge the teaching of Islam in public school curriculum (even including the reading of Islamic prayers) nor did they voice in on the request for a city to permit and amplified prayer call 5 times a day from a mosque in Michigan.
It should be enough that we have the right to have consideration of faculty hrings without regard to political identity--which is exactly what leads to these departments where faculty are all committed marxists or feminists or what have you. Don't you see that you are demandig a political identity test before you consider the rights proposal just as the cadre demand a politicla identification tagging before they will consider a proposed faculty hire.
I would be glad to have a debate. But first you have to respond to why you think political "tagging" is necessary. Without that you have not made any essential response to any of my posts. What more do you have when you have the motive of the speaker or the political leanings of the speaker or candidate? Don't you see that your interest apparently seeks to shift the focus from the consideration of the rights proposal to the attempt to make ad hominem castgiations to confuse the issues?
According to the left, the ONLY non-partisan source is another leftist. Conservatives have NO chance to get a fair hearing at most large universities today because their administrations are SOLIDLY in the hands of leftists, and those who drift toward Student Government also trend leftward.
The left finds diversity of opinion objectionable. Propaganda only works if you drown out all dissenting ideas.