Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Student “Freedom”

In response to the “Academic Freedom Bill” (HB837). The legislation pending in the Education Council, chaired by Florida “Legislator” Baxley, would allow students to sue faculty, student government, student organizations, administration, and staff whenever instances of bias are introduced on public college campuses that are considered offensive or work to the detriment of facilitating a sound educational environment. It is unconscionable that the person that is taking the lead on issues such as academic freedom is so deliberately ignorant of how the academy operates and the ideals for which it stands.

The issue of Freedom in the classroom rests on the foundational principle that emanates from the Copernican Revolution where scientists shifted their focus from one of asking questions of the world to positing hypothesis and then seeking to prove them. Education and the pursuit of knowledge remains fixed to this foundational principle and cannot proceed in an environment where ignorance would serve to stifle its pursuit. This bill would return our public academies to the days of mere groping about in the dark and stem the pursuit of knowledge that has brought about all of the advances of human civilization.

To put this is more tangible terms, the recent March 2005, newsletter from our very own College Republicans presented opinions that I believe were the dissemination of vitriolic hate speech to our college community. The reference to “South Florida Liberal Clones” as describing a group of people within our community was a dehumanizing and disparaging remark, one that could serve to incite violence.

Nowhere in this publication was any reference made to opinions that are different from their own. As a provision of the Baxley bill would prohibit the distribution of club funds for anything other than a “value-neutral” perspective, all further publications, meetings, and events would be required to present all sides of the ever-changing public debate. “(5) Students have a right to expect that their academic institutions will distribute student fee funds on a viewpoint- neutral basis and will maintain a posture of neutrality with respect to substantive political and religious disagreements, differences, and opinions (HB 837 Student and Faculty Academic Freedom in Postsecondary Education).”

The point that I am making is that in the distribution of student organization funds the Baxley bill would provide students with the opportunity to sue the proprietors of this newsletter and affiliated faculty and staff. So, all campus organizations whose message is determined to be one sided would be forced to incorporate alternative views into their programs. Taken to the extreme I foresee the inevitable situation where those who would espouse say religious ideals as being forced to include all other points of view into their programs. For example, if a group that I am a member of makes statements that I consider to be offensive I would be able to challenge them in a court of law.

So if I was to see a group promoting religious beliefs in the FAU breezeway, joined their organization, and they did not take my views into account I would be able to sue them in a court of law for damages.

Okay, I think I have made my point but let’s go one step further. Our university President Frank Brogan has his picture proudly displayed on the College Republicans web site.

Now if I consider the speech in their newsletter to be offensive and not “value-neutral” am I then able to sue him as a result? How about their faculty advisor? The pending legislation merely serves the interest of creating a divisive environment in education and our community and should meet with fervent opposition from all members of our community.

The attempt to regulate freedom in the classroom is such an absurd notion that I warrant most people who are seeking a “higher” education will not succumb to the ignorant rhetoric that this bill emulates. Further as Rep. Baxley is such a fervent proponent of this bill I would argue that he has lost all respect for education and therefore should be removed as chair of the education council of the Florida House of Representatives.

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