David Horowitz to Debate Ward Churchill at Academic Freedom Conference

Breaking News

On April 6-7, 2006, Students for Academic Freedom will host its First National Academic Freedom Conference featuring a debate between Students for Academic Freedom Chairman David Horowitz and University of Colorado-Boulder Professor Ward Churchill. The topic for debate will be: “Can Politics Be Taken Out Of The Classroom, and Should It Be?”

The debate will be held Thursday evening on the campus of George Washington University in Washington, DC. Young America’s Foundation and the Center for the Study of Popular Culture are the co-hosts of the debate.

The conference will also feature U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander, House Leader Jack Kingston, and Colorado high school student Sean Allen whose recording of an anti-American rant by his geography teacher, Jay Bennish, created a national furor over classroom indoctrination. The conference (apart from the debate) will take place at the Washington Court Hotel in Washington, DC.

Since its inception in the Summer of 2003, Students for Academic Freedom has led the way in promoting intellectual diversity and academic freedom in higher education. The April event will be the culmination of three years effort in which the organization has built student organizations on over 150 campuses, and moved legislation in 16 states and the U.S. Congress. The efforts of Students for Academic Freedom have brought the issues of intellectual diversity and academic freedom to the attention of a national public, generating more than two thousand press articles over the last year and stimulating debate on tens of thousands of sites across the World Wide Web.

The academic freedom campaign has shaken the complacency of the higher education community. In Colorado and Ohio, the higher education systems have formally adopted academic freedom rules based on the Academic Bill of Rights and are preparing to implement them. Principles of the Academic Bill of Rights have been incorporated into the authorization bill for the Higher Education Act at the federal level. The American Council on Education has issued a statement on Academic Freedom which incorporates key reforms proposed in the Academic Bill of Rights. In Pennsylvania, a special Committee on Academic Freedom was created by the Pennsylvania House to examine the state of academic freedom in public colleges and universities. Even though hearings before the committee are still in progress they have already stimulated proposals for reform. A final report by the committee on academic freedom is due in June.

In addition to its keynote speakers, the April conference will feature a series of panels discussing academic freedom issues and the responses to the academic freedom movement. The panels will include students involved in the academic freedom movement, professors, university trustees, representatives of educational associations and legislative sponsors of the Academic Bill of Rights.

“The purpose of this conference is to raise the awareness of this historic movement,” said SAF Chairman and Founder David Horowitz. “SAF has made great strides in ‘waking up’ the political and educational establishments and the general public to the seriousness of these problems. Now is the time to showcase our achievements, outline our goals to a national audience, and accelerate our efforts to institute these reforms.”

More information including a schedule and a list of confirmed speakers are available at www.studentsforacademicfreedom.org. Registration for the conference is free for students, interns, non-profit and legislative staffers, educators, and the media, and only $75 for the general public. To register for the conference, please contact Elizabeth Ruiz at 800-752-6562, ext. 202 or at Elizabeth@cspc.org.

Students for Academic Freedom is a national movement to promote intellectual diversity and to restore educational values to America’s institutions of higher learning. The organization recommends that colleges and universities adopt an Academic Bill of Rights to ensure that these principles are respected. The Academic Bill of Rights is available on the organization’s website at www.studentsforacademicfreedom.org.

Sara Dogan
National Campus Director
Students for Academic Freedom
1413 K Street NW #1000
Washington, DC 20005

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Tim Matthewson - 3/24/2006

One Flew East
Horowitz Anti-Professors Campaign Collapsing
By Aaron Barlow | bio

Good news! As anyone who has been following the responses to David Horowitz’s new book on what he thinks are “dangerous” professors now knows, Horowitz’s campaign to bring American universities under right-wing political control is foundering. The death-knell may have been Pat Robertson’s endorsement of the book, in which he takes Horowitz’s contention that “the professors” have been damaging generations of college students a step further: Robertson sees the professors as “termites,” “killers,” and “murderers.”

A balloon losing its air, spinning around the room with no direction, creating meaningless noise. That's what Horowitz and Robertson now amount to.

A Florida legislative report, released yesterday, may have been the final puncture in the balloon. Of course, Horowitz:

called the report “meaningless” and a “whitewash.” He said that most students and faculty members don’t understanding what academic freedom means, so they wouldn’t know to file grievances. Rather than looking at grievances that have been filed, Horowitz said, Florida officials should have asked students this question: “Have you ever been in a class where your professor made remarks about the war in Iraq or President Bush that was not a course about the war in Iraq or President Bush?” Horowitz said that “if you think the response would be only 1 percent positive, you haven’t talked to students in a long time.”

Of course, as I have made clear in earlier TPMCafe blog diaries, Horowitz himself rarely talks seriously to anyone on campus. His exposure to students is through only small right-wing cadres and his evidence is anecdotal, at best. He doesn’t know what he is talking about—and his characterization of the report show only that he has no rebuttal (“meaningless” and “whitewash” are not particularly viable terms for debate).

The report asks and answers these questions (among others):

Do all Florida public postsecondary institutions have an academic freedom policy/statement and to whom do these policies apply? All Florida public postsecondary institutions have language and policies addressing academic freedom. In general, these statements focus on faculty and their teaching rights and related freedoms. Student academic freedom policies and/or statements generally are found in the institution’s student handbook or student code of conduct.

How are faculty and students notified of academic freedom policy statements? All of Florida’s community colleges and public universities publish their academic freedom policies in school catalogs or faculty and student handbooks. These documents also frequently are available electronically on the schools’ Internet and/or intranet sites.

Do the end-of-course evaluations include questions that address academic freedom? All postsecondary students are given the opportunity to evaluate courses and their instructors. Fourteen institutions (4 universities and 10 community colleges) reported that their evaluations ask students questions related to academic freedom principals, such as whether instructors showed respect for students and their opinions, encouraged student participation, considered multiple points of view, and were fair and impartial. Some of the remaining institutions reported that their course evaluations include open-ended questions asking how the course could be improved and/or whether students have any issues of concern. These questions would enable students to identify academic freedom-related problems or concerns, even though not specifically asked about these issues.

In a blog entry on Free Exchange on Campus, the report is characterized this way:

"Not only is there no smoking gun, the gun never went off," says Tom Auxter, president of the United Faculty of Florida, the joint AFT-NEA union that represents all faculty in the 11-university system. "Meanwhile, the same legislators who launched this investigation of faculty, attempting to distract the public’s attention from the real crisis in higher education and poison the public attitude toward higher education, draft budgets that are woefully inadequate in every category. The Legislature is punishing all of higher education for crimes that were never committed."

Quite clearly, as many of us have argued over and over, all Horowitz is doing is trying to create enough fear and controversy to enable the right to grasp control of public university classrooms.

Quite clearly, there is no need for his campaign, no students crying out for rescue from dastardly professors.

Quite clearly, there is no brainwashed-by- the-left army of recent college graduates, mindlessly following their “leaders” in an attempt to overthrow the American system.

Quite clearly, this balloon has lost almost all of its air.
One Flew East | login or register to post comments
Mar 23, 2006 -- 08:44:22 AM EST
On March 23, 2006 - 10:44am tlees2 said:

Well, Horowitz hasn't lost all of his hot air - but the gasbag's anti-rationality & anti- openmindedness campaign is hopefully winding down.

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Rated 4 by one user.
On March 23, 2006 - 11:17am Aaron Barlow said:

Yes. He's losing air in Pennsylvania, too. Instead of being seriously considered, he has become something of a laughing-stock around the state (my state).

In fact, I have had a hard time, recently, getting anyone at all to pay attention to the "debate" over his "Academic Bill of Rights." Most people (if they have heard of it at all) seem to think that it's a past issue, that it reared its head then died.
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On March 23, 2006 - 8:07pm Truth4AChange said:

Yup, as I've noted elsewhere, there is little doubt that the more publicity David is able to drum up for himself, the greater the chance of an earlier demise for his nonsense he's attempted to promote. He truly is his own worst enemy.


http:// www.hairytruth.b logspot.com

John Edward Philips - 3/23/2006

Both Horowitz and Churchill both believe that classrooms are arenas for political indoctrination of students. There is no one in this debate who believes that education should teach people how to think for themselves, no one who believes in the traditional values of liberal education.

"Students for Academic Freedom is a national movement to promote intellectual diversity and to restore educational values to America’s institutions of higher learning."


What a cruel joke! "restore educational value"? American high schools are increasingly bad jokes, and college is the only chance most Americans have to get any education whatsoever. These people are bent on destroying the greatest university system on the planet in furtherance of a right-wing, anti-intellectual agenda. Oh how the mighty have fallen!