News: CJ Exclusives

Forum Examines Bias on Campus

Professors, politicians call for more intellectual diversity at universities

About 30 people attended a forum May 8 to discuss bias against conservatives on college campuses. Speakers cited personal examples of bias from North Carolina, Virginia, and New York.

The forum was held at the headquarters for Robert “Whit” Whitfield’s campaign for the 4th District U.S. House seat. That seat is currently held by Rep. David Price, a Democrat.

In attendance was Third District Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., who called for a hearing on academic bias.

“I really believe this should not be a liberal or conservative issue,” said Jones, one of the cosponsors of a House Resolution calling for the passage of the Academic Bill of Rights. Jones said no Democrats had cosponsored the resolution, which will be amended to another bill for passage.

In his opening remarks, Whitfield cited examples from the University of North Carolina known to Carolina Journal readers, including the Elyse Crystall email accusing her UNC-Chapel Hill student of violent, heterosexist, hate speech and the UNC-CH Women’s Center initially refusal to allow a prolife group to participate in its “Women’s Week” program, as well as the controversy surrounding UNC-Chapel Hill’s summer reading program.

The event provided a look at some of the issues surrounding academic bias on college campuses. Some of the sessions included “Persecution of Professors” and “Intellectual/Ideological Abuse and Bias.”

Michael Filozof, a political science professor at Monroe Community College in Rochester, N.Y., said he was accused of sexual harassment because of his views on the war on terror. The accusations came after Filozof placed a sticker on his car that said “I support President Bush,” according to Accuracy in Academia.
“I try to make my teaching as nonpartisan as possible,” Filozof, who was on the tenure track at that time, said.

“To me intellectual diversity is a no-brainer,” Central Connecticut State University history professor Jay Bergman said. “Universities that do not practice intellectual diversity are guilty of nothing less than malpractice.”

Eugene Mathews, a South Carolina lawyer, said he had some concerns about higher education and the lack of academic freedom in the classrooms. “American colleges are in danger of marginalizing themselves,” Mathews said.

The conference also included discussions from college students who have been active in preserving academic integrity on college campuses. Among those were Michael McKnight, a 2004 graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill and the founder of the Committee for a Better Carolina.

McKnight said that he thinks liberal students at UNC-Chapel Hill are an outspoken minority.

“It’s hard for me to believe it’s that overwhelming liberal,” McKnight said of UNC-Chapel Hill. “It’s not.”

Shannon Blosser is a contributing writer of Carolina Journal.