Columbia University: Ideological Litmus Tests at Teachers College

Category: Freedom of Conscience
Schools: Columbia University

Columbia University’s Teachers College requires students to demonstrate a “commitment to social justice” and  employs “dispositions,” which it defines as “observable behaviors that fall within the law and involve the use of certain skills,” to evaluate students. These dispositions, “expected of Teachers College candidates and graduates” and “assessed at each transition point,” include “Respect for Diversity and Commitment to Social Justice.” FIRE criticized these and other requirements in several letters to Columbia University and Teachers College, arguing that evaluating students according to their commitment to an officially defined ideal is a violation of a student’s right to decide for himself or herself what is and is not socially just. Teachers College President Susan Fuhrman told FIRE that the policy would be reevaluated, but there has been no change in this policy.