Reveling in Bias

By on February 24, 2005

Daphne Patai, a member of FIRE’s Board of Directors and a brilliant teacher and scholar herself, has the following observations about FIRE’s case against Rhode Island College:

What is most upsetting about cases such as that at Rhode Island College, as Professor Ryczek’s comments make clear, is the apparent failure of professors and schools to understand why it is entirely inappropriate for them to prescribe particular political positions to their students. Professor Ryczek’s proud claim to “revel in [his] biases” ought to be a deep embarrassment both to him and to the school that employs him. It’s bad enough that such episodes occur (and virtually all over the country), but what’s even worse is the apparent belief of these professors that this is what their status as professors entitles them to do. This is no innocent or misguided belief, however, but a cynical adherence to one of the worst and most simplistic ideas circulating around academe today: that “all education is political” and hence my politics can be imposed instead of yours. Ironically, it was precisely the absence of such a view—in other words, adherence to the ideal of a liberal education—that allowed these professors to rise to positions of prominence. They are not the first group, of course, to want to shut the door behind them, but it is particularly disgraceful that, as academics, they embrace such a stance. FIRE must, therefore, repeatedly and laboriously explain to supposedly educated academics why such behavior is unacceptable; without such an effort, these professors and schools would proceed unimpeded to trample on their students’ rights to freedom of conscience and academic freedom.

Schools: Rhode Island College