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Endorsement smackdown

Posted at 11:34 AM on March 10, 2008 by Michael Marchio

Two of the lawmakers who voted to override the transportation bill last month, Rep. Ron Erhardt (R-Edina) and Rep. Neil Peterson (R-Bloomington), paid for it this weekend, losing their Republican Party endorsements to challengers. A third, Rep. Jim Abeler (R-Anoka) wasn't endorsed by the party either, but no one was challenging him for it, he just didn't reach the required 60 percent to receive it. All said they're going to run for reelection regardless.

This afternoons hearings are a dry bunch, but while entering bills this morning, one caught my eye. HF3922, authored by Rep. Mark Olson (IR-Big Lake), called the "Free Speech for Faculty and Students Bill of Rights."

It asks state colleges and universities to adopt a policy that would do the following:

-Have curricula and reading lists that make students aware of the existence of dissenting scholarly sources and viewpoints

-Only grade students on the basis of reasoned answers

-Not descriminate against students based on political, ideological or religious beliefs

-Not base hiring or firing of faculty on political, ideological or religious beliefs

-Have a "posture of neutrality" when distributing student fees and promote a presentation of diverse opinions.

-Faculty academic freedom must not supercede the academic freedom of students

-Faculty can pursue and discuss their findings, but also must make students aware of differering serious scholarly opinion through discussion or written materials

Petitions similar to this one have been sponsored around the country by a group called Students for Academic Freedom , founded by former communist turned right-wing activist David Horowitz. Their motivating idea is that colleges and universities are biased toward liberal positions, and that conservative students are treated unfairly, and are sometimes punished with bad grades or harsh treatment for voicing views different from the views of their professors.

A recent study by examined the dearth of conservative voices.

There is reason to assume that liberals and conservatives have different experiences in college. If critics of the academy are correct, the liberal enclave provides a chilly environment for conservatives. This may not even be the result of intentional discrimination. Rather, conservatives may simply find themselves to be in the minority and disconnected from the rest of the campus. This minority status may affect their assessments of the educational experience and their overall satisfaction with college. According to previous research, satisfaction with the college experience does help to predict whether a student will complete an advanced degree.

Over at NewsCut, Bob Collins talked to a conservative professor from our very own St. Cloud State University about the relationship between politics and higher education.

Do any MFL members who are recent graduates, or still in college have a take on the political fairness or unfairness of among college professors?