Monday, June 21, 2021
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Students For Academic Freedom

Dear Dan McElwee and Students For Academic Freedom:

Let’s first find some common ground. I wholeheartedly agree with the basic sentiments expressed by your organization. The college setting absolutely should be one of free and open inquiry. If any member of the campus community found themselves punished for dissent in the classroom, I would be outraged.

If this should occur, I would implore you to file a formal complaint in order to redress this injustice. The student grievance procedure is clearly outlined in the Academic Policy section of our Student Handbook ( Each department has a complaint committee, “preferably with student members.” Furthermore, if you are unsatisfied with your appeal, the chain-of-command extends all the way up to President Gittenstein.

However, SAF, both in the chapter at TCNJ and nation-wide, is attempting to institute an “Academic Bill of Rights” to curb this alleged political and intellectual repression. If you folks are so concerned about your fellow students being victimized by professors, instead of attempting to pass an extraneous piece of legislation, why not encourage them to submit formal complaints?

I’ll answer my own question: Your purpose is not to defend “academic freedom,” but rather to promote a right-wing agenda. There is nothing wrong with arguing for a particular ideology or viewpoint; indeed, this is what makes college such an enriching environment. However, when an obvious “bias” is masked by an ostensible commitment to “unbiased” inquiry, it is nothing more than an insidious attempt to trample on the freedom of those with whom you disagree.

The members of SAF have appointed themselves the watchdogs of the “liberal learning environment” of the College, rather than following the appropriate established channels for lodging academic complaints (which include student participation at the departmental level). When an organization attempts to pass legislation which addresses an issue already covered in the basic rules and regulations of the College, alarm bells should immediately ring. SAF’s redundancy in its “Academic Bill of Rights” suggests ulterior motives.

And with SAF’s far-right backing, primarily from David Horowitz, we must ask–what really is your mission?

Matthew Richman


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