Pennsylvania House of Representatives Select Committee on Student Academic Freedom

Category: Free Speech, Freedom of Conscience, Religious Liberty
Schools: Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania Kutztown University of Pennsylvania Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania Lincoln University Cheyney University of Pennsylvania Bucks County Community College Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania University of Pittsburgh West Chester University of Pennsylvania Temple University Millersville University of Pennsylvania Mansfield University of Pennsylvania Indiana University of Pennsylvania Edinboro University of Pennsylvania East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania Clarion University of Pennsylvania California University of Pennsylvania Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania Pennsylvania State University – University Park

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives brought together a committee to examine allegations that Pennsylvania’s public universities were plagued by liberal ideology and indoctrination. David A. French, at the time president of FIRE, served as a legal adviser to the panel. FIRE released FIRE Report on the First Amendment Responsibilities of Pennsylvania State-Funded Colleges and Universities, explaining that Pennsylvania universities are bound to follow the strictures of the U.S. and Pennsylvania Constitutions, notably to respect the expressive rights of students and faculty members, to protect religious liberty on campus, and to protect freedom of conscience on campus.

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  • Pennsylvania Lawmakers Hold Hearings on Political Bias in College Classrooms

    November 25, 2005

    The debate between liberals and conservatives entered a new phase this month as Pennsylvania lawmakers gathered here for the second of five hearings to investigate accusations that the state’s public colleges are rife with liberal indoctrination. The Select Committee of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives met on the campus of the University of Pittsburgh to hear conflicting testimony from supporters and opponents of efforts to rid college classrooms of alleged political bias. The House voted in July to establish the panel after some students complained that their professors had graded them unfairly because of their political views. The students also […]

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  • Pennsylvania’s Historic Academic Freedom Hearings

    October 28, 2005

    Those who continue to doubt the wisdom of Justice Louis Brandeis’s famous statement “Sunlight is the best disinfectant” should pay close attention to the news from Pennsylvania. A House Select Committee on Student Academic Freedom is conducting an investigation into the state of liberty and genuine intellectual diversity in Pennsylvania’s public universities, and the academic establishment is fighting back.   It has become a common tactic for defenders of the academic status quo to equate scrutiny with “McCarthyism” and criticism with censorship. For example, at Brooklyn College, the local professors’ union went so far as to declare that press stories […]

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  • Academic rights panel told to watch where it steps

    September 20, 2005

    A special state legislative committee assigned to determine whether professors’ political biases are causing problems in classrooms for students at state-run institutions of higher learning was warned Monday to tread lightly when the issue involves freedom of speech. David French, president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education in Philadelphia, told the Select Committee on Student Academic Freedom that as it studies whether students have had their academic rights violated by professors “you must make sure you do not violate the constitutional rights of professors.” “Our agenda is to preserve the marketplace of ideas on campus. Often censorship comes […]

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  • Speech codes make universities intolerant

    January 5, 2006

    Have you ever known a legislator who didn’t think his job was terribly important?Imagine the campaign slogan: “Elect me, because who really cares?” Or the direct-mail letters: “It’d be nice if you sent me a donation — but it doesn’t really matter.” The very concept is ridiculous. But apparently someone forgot to tell that to state Rep. Dan Surra, D-Elk. Surra has been quoted in the news media as calling a committee on which he himself serves a “colossal waste of time.” This “colossal waste” is the bipartisan Select Committee on Student Academic Freedom, established last year via House Resolution […]

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  • Testimony to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives Select Committee on Student Academic Freedom

    September 19, 2005

    HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA * * * * * * * * * * House Resolution 177 * * * * * * * * * * House Select Committee On Student Academic Freedom Pursuant to H.R. 177 Main Capitol Building Room 140, Majority Caucus Room Harrisburg, Pennsylvania Monday ,September 19, 2005 3:00 p.m. —oOo— BEFORE: Honorable Tom Stevenson, Majority Chairperson Honorable Gibson Armstrong Honorable Patrick Fleagle Honorable Lynn Herman Honorable Thomas Quigley Honorable Lawrence Curry, Minority Chairperson Honorable Richard Grucela Honorable John Pallone Honorable Dan Surra Honorable Peter Zug ALSO PRESENT: Honorable James Roebuck DEIRDRE J. WEYER, […]

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  • FIRE Report on the First Amendment Responsibilities of Pennsylvania State-Funded Colleges and Universities

    September 19, 2005

    Introduction   If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein. If there are any circumstances which permit an exception, they do not now occur to us.   —West Virginia State Bd. of Educ. v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624 (1943)   U.S. Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson’s words, written during the unprecedented national crisis of World War II and in the context of striking […]

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