Cary Nelson Lodges A.A.U.P. “Disaster” Complaint against College of DuPage Board Policy

Cary sent this to me via e-mail

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DuPage’s new policy includes many unproblematic elements, but it also incorporates numerous poison pills that can easily be used to undermine academic freedom. People, for example, certainly deserve respect, but not all ideas do. It is not the business of a university to declare that certain questions should be considered “unsettled.” It is the job of academic disciplines to decide such matters for themselves. Thus it is not “ideological indoctrination” to expect that students master the theory of evolution or the idea that gender’s meanings are socially constructed. Nor is it the institution’s right to [determine] what matters count as “controversial” and what issues merit “unbiased” treatment. Few things, moreover, are as stifling to free inquiry as a demand that invited speakers represent a balanced spectrum of opinion. Even the requirement that faculty show “appropriate restraint” in arguing a position, seemingly reasonable on the surface, in fact undermines the tremendous educational benefit that can be gained from well informed but passionate advocacy. This policy is a disaster for education in a democratic society.

Cary Nelson

President American Association of University Professorsa

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