Friday, February 6, 2009

Academic Freedom

After I sent the letter (previous post) out, I participated in 3 meetings. Below are the results:

Meeting 1 (with Dr. Lueck, or OTLE, or simply "rogue professor"):
"I don't understand the problem with my statement. Whats the big deal?" (????!?!?!?!!?!?) And also, "It was highly inappropriate of you to send that letter to others in the college."

Meeting 2 (with the Ag and Resource Economics Dept. Head):
"Healthy debate is good for students and keeps you engaged."

Meeting 2 (with the Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences):
"Academic freedom is most important in the public university. Academic freedom is what allows you to dispute this professor."
"I applaud your pursuit of this issue and that you brought this to our attention." (Haha, take that OTLE! Ok, snotty, I know, but a bit satisfying nonetheless)

In regards to meeting 1, I write it off as the fact that his pride kept him from admitting his mistake. In meeting 2, I let it by that he really understood me more than he let on and he was protecting his faculty by hiding behind the "healthy debate" position. Meeting 3 was really enjoyable and I have absolute, utmost respect for Dean Sander and am really grateful that he took the time to meet with an undergrad. He absolutely understood the discrepency and the inaccuracy in OTLE's statement. BUT. (By the way I am soooo tired of hearing the phrase, "I appreciate your passion and enthusiasm, BUT.") This issue of academic freedom is very troubling to me. On the one hand, I can appreciate how important it is that I as a student have the right to raise my hand and question a professor without getting shot. And I can appreciate that as a professor, it would be empowering to not be micromanaged in curriculum. BUT. When inaccuracy invades academics, academic freedom should no longer trump all!

In another course I'm taking right now, the professor has been talking about "climate change" and how we as humans are not conserving the earth for generations because we are emitting so much yada, yada, yada. The only question he brings up is how to deal with it---not whether or not it is real. I forwarded him some info about the "other side" of climate change (as in the side that says it is a hoax, based on elitism not science). I received an email back that "the preponderence of evidence is in favor of the theory that human activity is driving climate change and therefore there is no need to discuss the other side in class." WHAT???

And then we wonder why the average American believes in liberal politics (thank you professors in the Political Science Dept.), climate change (thank you professors in TOOO many Dept.), animal equality (thank you professors in TOOO many Dept.), and now, that Ag is not important (thank you professor in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences). Its a huge puzzle, don't you think?

But alas, we can rest assured knowing that we have "academic freedom".

P.S. I was picturing Dumbledore eating Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans when I wrote "alas". :)


Jennifer said...

I appreciate your passion and enthusiasm... at least noone called you an expletive-expletive bigot for disagreeing! Check my blog to see!

Janette's Joys said...

True, but lets be honest, he was definitely thinking some expletive vibes! And, it probably would have been better if he had let them out because that would have been actual cause for administrators to care...okay, thats not very nice. I take it back!