Thursday, June 19, 2008

Freedom to Poll

Under pressure from Syracuse University officials
, political science professor Jeff Stonecash has agreed to stop his polling business.

Democrat candidate Dan Maffei complained to university officials about a poll Stonecash did for his opponents, complaining that the cost for the poll was too low and Stonecash was using university resources.

In reality, Stonecash didn’t give any special discounts, and has done polling for candidates of both parties. He pays Syracuse students to do the polls, and compensates the university for expenses such as supplies and telephones.

Considering that Stonecash teaches about polling, it strikes me as valuable for him (and his students) to have direct contact in polling. There’s not the slightest evidence of wrongdoing, and Stonecash should be free to engage in his work, just as other professors write books or make money in other ways utilizing their expertise on campus.

The real danger here is the monster of banning politics from campus raising its ugly head. We need to make it clear that universities are places where everyone is free to engage in the political system and express their ideas. Syracuse University should apologize for putting any pressure on Stonecash, and he should be free to continue his polls.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This isnt about censorship this is about academic integrity. In another article about this story the Marist opnion director made some good comments -- Lee M. Miringoff, director of the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion, said he understood the reaction of Syracuse University officials.

"We don't compromise our independent journalistic role by getting into partisan polling of any sort. Crossing those lines gets you into these types of problems. He crossed the line," Miringoff said. "This obviously was a problem with the university."