Academic Freedom Cont'd: Roundup of Latest Reactions to Ohio Senate Bill 24

Commentary on Ohio SB #24 -- a warning shot to the academic community that should not be ignored -- continues to pour in. Here's a round-up of the latest:

Students a the University of Toledo have poked at SB 24 with this resolution:

. . . deeming Senate Bill 24 'a bill of statuary requirements, with no rational bearing, which will have an adverse impact on ... the colleges and universities in the state of Ohio.'

S.B. 24, a bill authored by Ohio State Senator Larry Mumper, asks that college courses be based on facts rather than the opinions of, what Mumper says, are mostly liberal professors.

Samuel Nelson, assistant professor of political science, spoke against S.B. 24 at the senate meeting.

'If I have to think about what the state legislature thinks of my syllabus ... I would self censor,' he said, adding that such a bill would have a 'chilling effect' on what professors could do in classes.

The resolution passed 30 to one."
If a professor of political science can't distinguish between facts and opinions, perhaps he should consider another career.

Faculty at Ohio U. have also weighed in:

On the one hand, some OU faculty are running down the misguided First Amendment alley:
"It's a disaster waiting to happen," warned Faculty Senate Chair Phyllis Bernt, a professor in the School of Communication System Management. "American higher education is built upon free speech and the open exchange of ideas. We don't need to protect students from ideas."
While other faculty recognize why four Ohio Senators are motivated to launch this legislative warning shot:
"Richard Vedder, distinguished professor of economics, maintained that while the bill contains flaws and vague provisions, it does address legitimate issues. "I think institutions themselves need to be rigidly impartial and neutral regarding major political issues of the day," he said. "Increasingly, they are violating that proposition, weighing in on everything from gay marriage to tax policy. They are now paying the cost for this."

"Vedder argued that universities have created the problems that the bill seeks to fix. "By trying to enforce political correctness, imposing student speech codes and other violations of First Amendment rights, universities have brought this on themselves," he said. "What is surprising is not this bill, but that it has taken this long to materialize."
Meanwhile, Martin Tuck, OU's associate provost for academic affairs, prefers a head-in-sand posture:
"Bills like this make me incredibly nervous, Professors should show good judgment about these issues. I'm against legislation to force it."
A rather bland statement from the administrator responsible for making sure faculty are doing their jobs. If professors are, indeed, showing good judgment, then SB #24 would have no discernible effect on academic discourse.
Several faculty and student views are captured in this Marion Star article.

CAIR-Ohio weighs in:
CAIR, along with the ACLU and other civil rights organizations, opposes passage of this bill because it could be used to curtail academic freedom and to encourage thought policing in our institutes of higher education. The bill would have a chilling effect on freedom of inquiry on Ohio's campuses.
David Horowitz -- author of the Academic Bill of Rights on which SB #24 is modeled -- responds to CAIR-Ohio and other critics of SB #24:
The campaign against Mumper's Bill, as against the Academic Bill of Rights generally, is as unscrupulous as it is mendacious. Both of these organizations charge that the Academic Bill of Rights legislation would put academic discourse under government control and restrict academic free speech. In fact, the Academic Bill of Rights and Senate Bill 24 are specifically designed to do just the opposite: to encourage diverse views and to restrict none. They are aimed at an academic orthodoxy that currently suppresses opposition and that makes frauds like Ward Churchill – the very antithesis of a scholar and teacher – chairs of academic departments. Who could object to such legislation? Like-minded ideologues could.
Read the rest.

CNSNews has this round-up.

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