‘Liberal’ education

The freedom to exchange ideas openly is an essential component of any university community. Accordingly, professors shouldn’t use their position to propagate their own personal views or suppress those of others. Ensuring the free exchange of ideas in the classroom, however, should not involve spiteful, underhanded tactics.
Recently, a conservative University of California alumnus, Andrew Jones, offered students $100 a class to document the lectures of professors who push liberal views.

When informed that distributing course material without permission was against school policy, Jones rescinded the monetary offer, though he still plans to use any documentation he obtains from students in his battle against “indoctrination by UCLA professors,” according to an Associated
Press article.

Political views, however, shouldn’t matter if professors remain professional, which would mean allowing for open ideological discussion and withholding their own views completely in classes where ideological leanings are irrelevant.

But Jones isn’t just wrong about how he frames the issue. His tactics to combat indoctrination, if it is occurring, are inappropriate and likely to create more controversy than change.

His crusade is also a slap in the face to students, who should have the ability to discern between legitimate points and political babble, making them fully capable of withstanding “indoctrination.”

But ideologically coercive professors should face consequences. Administrators should take student complaints very seriously and be prepared to act on them.

Professor evaluations, which usually feature general questions about performance, should ask students directly about feeling intellectually bullied. While tenured professors have earned their position and the security it provides, they should be subject to consequences as well.

One of the purposes of a college education is to encourage free thought – a concept people from all political affiliations can and should support.