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Academic Freedom and Prejudice, Maurice’s letter: May 14, 2006

Dear Professor Mary Sue Coleman                                                 May 14, 2006

Re: Academic Freedom and Prejudice

Your words at the Martin Luther King Jr. Symposium last January, carried an admirable ring of sincerity. You said inter alia "It is essential that we raise our voices, as individuals and as a university community, to draw attention to prejudice, discrimination and neglect that hampers the fostering of that welcoming environment." (*Bolds by editor)

Very sadly, rather than diminishing, prejudice appears to be growing within Americas great universities.  Students complain about professors who discourage them from expressing legitimate views, especially when said professors make extreme partisan statements without any attempt at substantiation. The mission statement of Students for Academic Freedom (SAF) states that these are routine occurrences on campuses today.

In these circumstances, I hope you will agree that though academic freedom is sacrosanct, the time is overdue for a clarification of its meaning and the legitimate measures which may be taken to prevent abuse and even possible deterioration of standards that could result from the sense of security given by tenure.

While universities refrain from interfering in the opinions expressed by faculty members, nevertheless, to maintain their reputations, universities need to constantly monitor the standards of scholarship (not the views) displayed by them, not only in the classrooms but off-campus as well.

Publication off-campus of the academic status of the authors, in articles showing sub-standard scholarship, must adversely affect the reputation of their universities in the eyes of critical readers, creating concern about the level of education students are receiving.

In this connection, I copy below an open letter I wrote to Professor Cole of your university, in which I take issue with the unscholarly arguments he uses in a petition he is organizing.

I would very much appreciate a considered reply, which will be published on the Internet, as will this letter.

Sincerely,
Maurice Ostroff
Herzliya, Israel

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