Monday, May 04, 2009

Horowitz Victory Short Lived

A few moments ago, the new College of DuPage Board of Trustees voted 4-3 to reverse the previous board's passage of David Horowitz's Academic Bill of Rights. It was a victory for academic freedom, and a decisive defeat for Horowitz and his friends, such as outgoing trustee Kory Atkinson, founder and president of the Intellectual Diversity Foundation, who paid for Horowitz to speak at a private event on campus and pushed his agenda. He attended the Board meeting while wearing a T-shirt that read, “Stop Faculty Pay to Play,” an apparent reference to the fact that the faculty union had donated money to help elect trustees who support academic freedom. (Classy exit, Kory!)

The real defeat for the Academic Bill of Rights had come at a polling booth last month. On April 7, voters completely rejected the old board and its right-wing ideologues. Nancy Svoboda led with 46,654 votes, more than twice the number of outgoing chair Michael McKinnon, who finished fifth with only 21,756 votes.

In response, the conservatives on the Board decided to make their legacy a fit of ideological pique. On April 16, against the urging of three upcoming board members who had been elected, the outgoing board voted 6-0 to impose the new Board Policy Manual on the College of DuPage, including suddenly reimposing the original Academic Bill of Rights that they had previously watered down.

This attack on academic freedom has been criticized by groups across the spectrum, including the Illinois AAUP and the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.

At the May 4 meeting, the new Board was forced to confront the issue because of a motion to accept the previous board policy. They voted 4-3 to rescind the controversial policies objected to earlier, including the Academic Bill of Rights (and tabled the discussion of the remaining policies).

Earlier today, the national AAUP and the National Education Association's National Council for Higher Education sent a letter to the College of DuPage trustees, urging them to overturn this terrible mistake. Fortunately, the will of the people and the voice of reason triumphed over the efforts of right-wing Republicans to silence free speech on campus.


Aakash said...

I was not aware that this controversy was percolating at COD. While I have some problems with David Horowitz, and his themes and tactics, this news is not heartening; however, I suspect that there may have been other reasons, behind the Board of Trustees election results.

Overall however, Illinois Consolidated Election Day went well - at least from my perspective, here in the capital city.

Anonymous said...

Your praise of FIRE is probably premature. This so-called "nonpartisan" group that doesn't hestiate to hammer out a half-assed, distorted press release within hours of receiving a complaint about liberal treachery on campus has been completely silent about Liberty University's banning of Democrats from campus, threatening them with expulsion if they meet on campus.

FIRE has not responded to my e-mails on the subject (what a shock... rhetorical bullies typically don't like being asked tough questions themselves). Perhaps they'll talk to you.