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Letter to the editor

Intellectual diversity lacks at UW-River Falls

April 13, 2012

I read with interest the Voice’s story about my talk at UW-River Falls last week (“UW-Madison Professor Imparts Knowledge about Free Speech,” March 30). The story does a good job of discussing issues relating to the status of free speech in higher education today.

I was also impressed with the students who turned out for the talk, who were responsive and asked good questions. I did, however, expect students to raise concerns and ask questions about the status of free speech and the diversity of ideas at UWRF itself. After speaking with several students after the talk and Q & A were over, I wished that such questions and concerns had been raised.

Such students did not say anything critical about the right of students to engage in free speech at UWRF, which was good news; but several did claim that some of their classes are very ideological and one-sided, especially regarding the collective bargaining dispute.

Some even related stories of extra credit being given for attending anti-Walker rallies in Madison, while not providing such credit for other political activity. I cannot attest to the veracity of such claims, though I had no reason to question the integrity of the students who brought such cases to my attention.

Some students also related that they were afraid to raise such concerns after the talk because of the presence of faculty members in the room. If such claims have any merit, it would behoove the University to engage in constructive self-analysis and criticism, as students deserve intellectual diversity and more balanced pedagogy.

Donald A. Downs
Professor of political science, law and journalism
UW-Madison

Comments

Agreed on 01 May 2012: We are really going to miss Dr. Evans! It is a shame that the poli sci department can be so selfish!

Confused on 29 Apr 2012: I just don't understand how any member of the faculty at UWRF can stand by and watch a good professor like Dr. Evans go just because he isn't Liberal enough. It makes me sick to be perfectly honest.

Wow on 29 Apr 2012: What is worse is that the University sits back and does nothing. Giving extra credit to go the the anti-Walker rallies? Wow!

Indoctrinated on 26 Apr 2012: I don't think anyone would believe all the things professors try to pull at UWRF. They let their political beliefs get in the way for what is best for the University. They claim to be open to ideas, but only open to ideas that they agree with.

Dumbfounded on 27 Apr 2012: There are also professors who are willing to let one of our best professors ever leave because he doesn't promote a liberal agenda. What makes it even more strange is that this professor doesn't promote any agenda at all. Since when is that a bad thing?

Adam Kissel on 24 Apr 2012: It is disappointing to think that students felt intimidated by the presence of faculty members. Anyone who believes they have suffered unequal treatment because of their political views or have had their rights violated in some other way should contact us at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) at thefire.org.