Academic Bill of Rights

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The Academic Bill of Rights (ABOR) is a document created and distributed by Students for Academic Freedom, a public advocacy group spun off from the Center for the Study of Popular Culture, a think tank founded by the conservative activist and writer David Horowitz. The document was created as a foundational part of SAF's mission, to "end the political abuse of the university and to restore integrity to the academic mission as a disinterested pursuit of knowledge."

The Bill focuses on eight broad-based principles that call for an academic environment where decisions are made irrespective of one's personal political or religious beliefs. The Bill (and its drafting organization) have come under sharp attack, however, for using broad-based egalitarian principles and a self-identified "bipartisan" framework to promote what critics identify as an ideological agenda.

The Bill's Eight Principles[edit]

  1. All faculty shall be hired, fired, promoted and granted tenure on the basis of their competence and appropriate knowledge in the field of their expertise and, in the humanities, the social sciences, and the arts, with a view toward fostering a plurality of methodologies and perspectives. No faculty shall be hired or fired or denied promotion or tenure on the basis of his or her political or religious beliefs.
  2. No faculty member will be excluded from tenure, search and hiring committees on the basis of their political or religious beliefs.
  3. Students will be graded solely on the basis of their reasoned answers and appropriate knowledge of the subjects and disciplines they study, not on the basis of their political or religious beliefs.
  4. Curricula and reading lists in the humanities and social sciences should reflect the uncertainty and unsettled character of all human knowledge in these areas by providing students with dissenting sources and viewpoints where appropriate. While teachers are and should be free to pursue their own findings and perspectives in presenting their views, they should consider and make their students aware of other viewpoints. Academic disciplines should welcome a diversity of approaches to unsettled questions.
  5. Exposing students to the spectrum of significant scholarly viewpoints on the subjects examined in their courses is a major responsibility of faculty. Faculty will not use their courses for the purpose of political, ideological, religious or anti-religious indoctrination.
  6. Selection of speakers, allocation of funds for speakers programs and other student activities will observe the principles of academic freedom and promote intellectual pluralism.
  7. An environment conducive to the civil exchange of ideas being an essential component of a free university, the obstruction of invited campus speakers, destruction of campus literature or other effort to obstruct this exchange will not be tolerated.
  8. Knowledge advances when individual scholars are left free to reach their own conclusions about which methods, facts, and theories have been validated by research. Academic institutions and professional societies formed to advance knowledge within an area of research, maintain the integrity of the research process, and organize the professional lives of related researchers serve as indispensable venues within which scholars circulate research findings and debate their interpretation. To perform these functions adequately, academic institutions and professional societies should maintain a posture of organizational neutrality with respect to the substantive disagreements that divide researchers on questions within, or outside, their fields of inquiry.[1]

Criticism[edit]

A number of organizations representing a variety of political viewpoints have expressed pointed critique of both the ABOR's aims and its content.

One of the first organizations to come out in opposition to the bill was the American Association of University Professors (AAUP). While agreeing with the underlying principles of freedom, equality, and pluralism in the university community, the association said that the bill "infringes academic freedom in the very act of purporting to protect it."[2]

Some individual academics regard the ABOR, along with the Santorum Amendment, as a threat to academic freedom.[3] Others have suggested that the ABOR may allow students to claim discrimination when tested on evolution. [4]

Moderate, libertarian, and conservative critics of the ABOR have asserted that it would open the door to a right wing version of the campus speech code. An article by David T. Beito, Ralph E. Luker and K.C. Johnson in the Perspectives magazine of the American Historical Association warned that the ABOR "could snuff out all controversial discussion in the classroom. A campus governed by the ABOR would present professors with an impossible dilemma: either play it safe or risk administrative censure by saying something that might offend an overly sensitive student." [5]

The American Library Association also opposed the ABOR, with members approving a resolution stating that the Bill "would impose extra-academic standards on academic institutions, directly interfering in course content, the classroom, the research process, and hiring and tenure decisions."[6]

A number of other groups have also opposed the ABOR, including the American Federation of Teachers,[7] the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC),[8] and others. A number of left-leaning groups, including Refuse and Resist,[citation needed] the AFL-CIO,[9] and SourceWatch[citation needed] have also expressed concern and criticism of the Bill, particularly warning against the regulatory oversight that the bill would place upon academic institutions, if passed.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Academic Bill of Rights - Basic Texts - Documents - Students For Academic Freedom
  2. ^ "Reports & Publications: Academic Bill of Rights AAUP". December 2003. Retrieved June 2014. 
  3. ^ Intelligent Design: Teach the Controversy? Dann P. Siems, Assistant Professor Biology & Integrative Studies, Bemidji State University
  4. ^ Pharyngula::Bachmann and Horowitz and the "Academic Bill of Rights"
  5. ^ *David T. Beito, K.C. Johnson, and Ralph E. Luker "The AHA's Double Standard on Academic Freedom" Perspectives, March 2006.
  6. ^ "Resolution in Support of Academic Freedom". American Library Association official site. American Library Association. January 25, 2006. Retrieved June 11, 2014. 
  7. ^ "OPPOSITION TO THE SO-CALLED ACADEMIC BILL OF RIGHTS AND SUPPORT FOR THE CAMPAIGN FOR FREE EXCHANGE ON CAMPUS". American Federation of Teachers official website. American Federation of Teachers. 2006. Retrieved June 11, 2014. 
  8. ^ "“Academic Bill Of Rights” – A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing". National Coalition Against Censorship official website. National Coalition Against Censorship. Retrieved June 11, 2014. 
  9. ^ "Opposition to the Misnamed “Academic Bill of Rights”". AFL-CIO official website. AFL-CIO. February 27, 2006. Retrieved June 11, 2014.