Political bias in the classroom: How much of a threat?

We were pleased to see the July 1 editorial, "Political Bias in College Classes," calling for universities to protect students' academic freedom and the declaration that "college students have a right to learn in a climate that fosters respect for all points of view."

The editorial rightly lauds the recent statement of the American Council on Education (ACE), signed by an additional 29 educational organizations, clarifying the direction universities must take to adequately protect their students from political or ideological discrimination and abuse.

The ACE statement was an important first step for the higher education establishment, which has finally recognized the crucial importance of protecting students' academic freedom, but it is far from sufficient.

The ball is now in the universities' court, and it remains to be seen whether they will put the principles endorsed by the ACE into practice or allow the political abuse of their universities to continue.
Sara Dogan, National Campus Director;
David Horowitz, Chairman;
Students for Academic Freedom

I find the editorial calling for respect of students' conservative political views somewhat misleading.

First of all, in my 12 years as both student and instructor in the liberal arts, I have rarely seen strong politics enter the classroom discussion. And even rarer are extremely liberal drill-sergeant-type professors who intimidate students with their political views, to which the Monitor appears to be referring.

These are isolated incidents at best, and would probably be admonished by the department head or dean if they occurred with any frequency.

Moreover, several (if not most) university departments do not engage in any political debate whatsoever.

Instead, one tends to find strong political debate from student political groups, which represent a wide array of views from the extreme left to the extreme right.

Students can chose to participate in or avoid such political discussion as they please. Therefore, I find the so-called "liberal bias" in universities an unsubstantiated, unconvincing argument.
Steven Byrd
Austin, Texas

Thank you for calling attention to the potential outrage of the government legislating the opinions of academia. However, I continue to find it astounding that people consider academia to be some sort of monolithic leftist bastion.

I would surmise, from my college and professional experience, that a large percentage of the collegiate student body are not typically exposed to the political opinions of their academic mentors.

As a graduate of the engineering program at Lehigh University, I was rarely exposed to the faculty's political opinions until I enrolled in the school's international relations program.

Even then, it was typically only when I sought out a professor's personal thoughts on the political landscape of the time that they would discuss it in their teaching. What little I could otherwise discern of my professors' political opinions led me to believe that they were generally anything but liberal.

With all the concern about the liberal bias of the higher education system, I have heard almost nothing about the severe right-wing mind-set of our country's military.

Given this, I must ask, shouldn't we be more afraid of a severely biased military complex than a group of unarmed left- leaning academics?
Chris Wolfe
Haddonfield, N.J.

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