I feel that there is a good deal missing in the current campus debate about the Academic Bill of Rights between both sides. College Republicans are crying discrimination while the College Democrats are insinuating that the Republicans wish to destroy Africana and women's studies. What has gotten lost in this dialogue apparently is no one seems to be asking where this misnomer of a bill originated and who is behind it. When students understand the right-wing source of the Academic Bill of Rights, I believe they will see why the Bowdoin College Republicans suddenly have changed their opinion on discrimination issues. David Horowitz, a former Marxist and now a far right-winger, is one the main sources promoting the Academic Bill of Rights. The leftist -sounding nature of the Academic Bill of Rights comes from Mr. Horowitz's Marxist background. Mr. Horowitz's goal is not to promote academic diversity, but instead to put professors in fear of alienating right-wing students. His Students for Academic Freedom (SAF), and Middle East studies oriented Campus Watch (CW), do not hide their openly anti-leftist, dogmatically pro-Israel agenda. The Academic Bill of Rights merely opens the door for abuse by the Right.
For Bowdoin students to understand the potential for abuse, it is important to look at the Academic Bill of Rights and how it has been previously abused. The third point of the Academic Bill of Rights states: "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." This implies that students shouldn't be marked down for political content which is a completely fair notion. However, Mr. Horowitz and his colleagues are masters of manipulation. Mr. Horowitz's prime example of a conservative student being discriminated against for his politics was Foothill College student Ahmad al-Qloushi. Mr. al-Qloushi claimed that he failed the final exam for being too pro-American. If one takes a look at his poorly written essay, available on Mr. Horowitz's SAF web site, it is clear that al-Qloushi ignored the professor's question. While the student was asked to answer how the U.S. Constitution excluded certain groups at the time it was written, Mr. al-Qloushi went on to write the U.S. Constitution was the most progressive document of its time and avoided the exclusion issue. Now the student and Mr. Horowitz continue to spread the lie that Mr. al-Qloushi was marked down for his politics, not poor scholarship. The Academic Bill of Rights would allow students like Mr. al-Qloushi to avoid doing assignments properly and then complain about discrimination.
The end of fourth point of the Academic Bill of Rights reads: "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." This part has even greater chance of being manipulated by students with agendas on either side. This puts teachers, who have spent years researching their subjects, at the academic whim of the students. For example, if I feel Asian Studies Professor Lance Guo is either being too pro-China or not anti-China enough, I can complain to the deans. He can then be forced to show the class either my Maoist propaganda or ultra-right critiques of China's one-child policy. This will be done to show the class my material, to make them "aware of other viewpoints" no matter how discredited they maybe. Professor Guo's academic judgment based off of years of research and study are pushed aside so I can promote my own agenda, whatever it be.
There is nothing wrong with tackling the problem of political discrimination in academia. As a democratic socialist, I have felt political discrimination since middle school from both Democrats and Republicans. So I do agree it is important to address discrimination publicly. Students, however, should question the College Republicans, who, since I have been at Bowdoin, have opposed Affirmative Action and anti-homophobic laws, to suddenly be concerned with discrimination that affects us all. The hard truth is that if students are discriminated against they can go to other professors, deans, and President Mills for recourse. The true agenda of the Academic Bill of Rights is to allow the far right monitoring control over liberal professors.