E-mail from Rhode Island College Professor James Ryczek to Bill Felkner, October 15, 2004

From: Ryczek, James [mailto:JRyczek@ric.edu]
Sent: Friday, October 15, 2004 12:45 PM
To: [Bill Felkner]
Subject: RE: Fahrenheit 9/11

Hi Bill,

You asked for a response and I am happy to oblige…

Actually no school money was used for the showing of the film, per se. Dan Weisman (BSW Program Faculty) bought the film on his own and offered to organize and show the film at the times he arranged, although he and some other BSW faculty are showing it in class. The announcements were made in MSW classes just to let students know that they can go if they wish.

I don’t believe there would be an objection to showing the other film if you or someone else were to organize it…the space here is definitely a community space to be used by members of the community (especially students).

But, there may be a broader issue here that I’d be happy to discuss more with you (based on your comment about having a problem with the school, if it did promote and sponsor the film).

As I have mentioned in class, and I assume you’ve heard in other classes, Social Work is a value-based profession that clearly articulates a socio-political ideology about how the world works and how the world should be. In fact NASW, the professional organization, puts out position papers on just about everything in the realm of public discourse and debate. We also have a PAC specifically organized to promote certain candidates with whom we share the same political agenda and outlook…and as you may have guessed, is working actively to defeat Bush. So, as a social worker, I don’t find it at all unusual that a film like 9/11 might officially be sponsored by the school, and that the alternate view film might not be sponsored. In short, by and large as a profession we do take sides…and indeed in this school, we have a mission devoted to the value of social and economic justice.

Now that being said, I don’t think anyone here would want to quash alternative views. Again, as I have said in class…I want us to have an open discussion and debate about issues. In fact, questioning is an extremely important social work skill, and I know that I am doing a great deal of questioning with students about how they have traditionally thought about certain issues….and that is challenging for both me and the student.

Yet, if a student finds that they are consistently and regularly experiencing opposite views from what is being taught and espoused in the curriculum, or the professional “norms” that keep coming up in class and in field, then their fit with the profession will not get any more comfortable, and in fact will most likely become increasingly uncomfortable.

I will be the first one to admit a bias toward a certain point of view. But I don’t characterize my “bias” in this instance as a pejorative thing. In fact, I think the biases and predilections I hold toward how I see the world and how it should be are why I am a social worker. In the words of a colleague, I revel in my biases. So, I think anyone who consistently holds antithetical views to those that are espoused by the profession might ask themselves whether social work is the profession for them…or similarly, if one finds the views in the curriculum at RIC SSW antithetical to those they hold closely, then this particular school might not be a good fit for them. I don’t want you to think that I am suggesting that you are such a person…but, then again, you may be…only you can make that determination. It is not uncommon that the educational process here lends itself to such reflections on the part of many students.

Please, let me know if you want to talk further with me about these things.




—–Original Message—–
From: [Bill Felkner]
Sent: Thursday, October 14, 2004 9:52 PM
To: Ryczek, James
Subject: Fahrenheit 9/11
Hi Jim,
Dont feel obligated to reply to all my emails, so much comes out of me I can’t remember it all.  But this one I would like a response.
As you know the film Fahrenheit 9/11 was shown at the school and promoted in classes (not just yours).  I have some problems with this.  I assume my tuition pays for this and I would like to see a more balanced approach to these things.  Would the school consider doing the same for FahrenHYPE 9/1?  Its a respectable (not local stuff) film with an opposing view.  Heres some info on it,,, http://www.fahrenhype911.com/
I would be willing to donate a dvd if it makes it easier.  Let me know what you think, thanks

Schools: Rhode Island College Cases: Rhode Island College: Violation of Student’s Freedom of Conscience