Press Releases

CAIR-Ohio: Senate Bill Threatens Academic Freedom

(COLUMBUS, OH, 2/9/05) – CAIR-Ohio is urging all persons of conscience to
voice their concern over the recently-introduced Ohio Senate Bill 24.

If enacted, Senate Bill 24 will censor Ohio colleges and universities. The
so-called “Academic Bill of Rights” is truly a misnomer, as it is really an
“academic bill of restrictions.”

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.

For example:

* The bill forces the board of trustees, of both public and private
schools, to adopt policies about what can and cannot be taught.

* Under the bill, faculty would be discouraged from teaching anything
“controversial” – a vaguely defined term that could pertain to any number
of topics including evolution, history, or religion.

* If they do raise controversial issues, teachers would have to present
alternative views regardless of the merits of those views or their own
beliefs about them.

* Senate Bill 24 would shift the responsibility for course content and
student evaluation from highly trained faculty to the state government or
the courts, a prospect that is highly offensive to many college professors.

TO VIEW THE TEXT OF THE BILL, GO TO:
http://www.legislature.state.oh.us/bills.cfm?ID=126_SB_0024

In a commentary about the bill, William T. Lyons Jr., the director of the
Center for Conflict Management at the University of Akron, said:

“The best way to combat ideas we do not like, or policies we do not
support, is by coming up with better ideas and persuading others that our
ideas have merit. Trying to outlaw ideas we do not approve of, even in the
name of free expression, is a cure far worse than the disease.”

Gabriel Palmer-Fernandez, a professor at Youngstown State University, wrote
in a letter to the editor:

“Senate Bill 24 is not a bill of academic rights but a bill of statutory
requirements that if passed will have wide and adverse effects upon the
academic profession and upon all public and private colleges and
universities in the State – statutory requirements that have no rational
basis.”

The “Academic Bill of Rights” is a concept being promoted in state
legislatures nationwide by leftist-turned-conservative David Horowitz.
Horowitz formed a group called Students for Academic Freedom to combat what
he says is the grip that liberals have exercised at universities since the
’60s. SEE: http://www.studentsforacademicfreedom.org/

Horowitz is editor-in-chief of a web site, www.frontpagemag.com, that has
published articles with titles such as, “Why Islam Can’t Join the Modern
World,” “Why Islam Hates Democracy,” “Islam Uber Alles,” “Islam’s Immigrant
Invasion of Europe,” “Kerry’s Secret Muslim Connections,” “US Muslims Stalk
More Infidels,” and “Black Muslim Traitors.” Horowitz is also the author of
“Unholy Alliance: Radical Islam and the American Left.”

IMMEDIATE ACTION REQUESTED – Contact your elected officials to ask that
they oppose Senate Bill 24. Messages from college students, parents,
faculty, and administrators would be especially helpful.

TO LOCATE YOUR ELECTED OFFICIALS, GO TO:
http://www.legislature.state.oh.us/

TO VIEW THE ACLU’S SUGGESTED LETTER OR E-MAIL, GO TO:
http://www.acluohio.org/issues/free_speech/sb24samplelanguage.htm

COPY ALL CORRESPONDENCE TO:
jennifer@cair-ohio.com

Members of the Senate Education Committee:

Chair: Joy Padgett
Clerk: Grant Earlich
Regular Meetings: North Hearing Rm.
Partisan Breakdown: 6 Republicans, 3 Democrats

Republican
Chair Sen. Joy Padgett
Vice Chair Sen. Gary Cates
Sen. John Carey
Sen. Randy Gardner
Sen. Jeff Jacobson
Sen. Larry Mumper

Democrat
Ranking Minority Member Sen. Teresa Fedor
Sen. Eric Fingerhut
Sen. Ray Miller

– END –

CONTACT: CAIR-OH President Ahmad Al-Akhras, 614-989-5916,
ahmad@cair-ohio.com;
CAIR-Ohio Civil Rights Director Jennifer Nimer, 614-451-3232, jennifer@cair-ohio.com

 

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