Forum discusses academic freedom

North Carolina is not the only state where campus bias is a concern. That was evident during a forum held Saturday at Robert “Whit” Whitfield’s campaign headquarters for the 4th District House of Representatives seat. That seat is currently held by Rep. David Price, D-N.C.

About 30 people, mostly speakers, gathered inside the Durham office to listen to examples of academic biases on campuses from North Carolina, Virginia, and New York. The forum also included a call by Third District Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., for a congressional hearing on academic bias.

“I really believe this should not be a liberal or conservative issue,” said Jones, a co-sponsor of a House resolution calling for an Academic Bill of Rights.

No Democrats are a co-sponsor of the resolution, which Jones said will be amended with another bill for passage.

The forum was organized by the Whit for Congress Committee.

Signs of Whitfield’s campaign were seen throughout the conference location, with campaign signs and literature greeting forum attendees at check-in table and at other locations in the conference room. The table had a television monitor playing Whitfield’s latest campaign commercial, which is similar to a Geico commercial featuring a congressional hearing.

Whitfield, during the forum, cited examples of academic bias that has been uncovered or promoted by the Pope Center for Higher Education. Those examples included a student, Tim, who was ridiculed by his professor in a class email, which was later released to the public, for comments he made in a discussion about homosexuality.

Other examples of academic bias Whitfield cited was the lack of inclusion of pro-life students by the Women’s Center at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill during its “Women’s Week.” He also cited the controversy surrounding the summer reading project.

“They really believe they are the elites and they should be leading this country,” Whitfield said.

The event did provide a look at some of the issues surrounding academic bias, with sessions on “persecution of professors,” and “intellectual/ideological abuse and bias.”

Michael Filozof, a political science professor at Monroe Community College in Rochester, N.Y., discussed how he was accused of sexual harassment because of his views on the War on Terrorism and in Iraq.

“I try to make my teaching as nonpartisan as possible,” Filozof said.

Eugene Mathews, a South Carolina lawyer, said he has some concerns about higher education and the lack of academic freedom in the classroom.

“American colleges are in danger of marginalizing themselves,” Mathews said.

Others who attended the forum included Mal Kline, executive director of Accuracy in Academia. Kline talked about how families call his office and ask for recomendations on which schools their sons or daughters should attend.

“It’s a very short list and it’s getting shorter all the time,” Kline said.