Last week we learned that some members of the Academic Senate have launched a crusade to ban the ROTC from campus. The crusade is being led by Charles Bazerman, chair of the Dept. of Education, and Thomas Scheff, a retired sociology professor who has written a book entitled Being Mentally Ill: A Sociological Theory. The effort is not only wrong, but sickly hypocritical.
When I read that the first basis for the effort was gay rights, I immediately asked some real live homosexuals what they would think of our campus losing its men in uniform. Although reactions were mixed, I must say that those who opposed the presence of cadets did not really strike me as man-loving men. They seemed more like feminist women.
But then it turned out that gay rights and free speech were only pretenses for the crusade. All it took was a few paragraphs for Bazerman and Scheff to reveal the kicker in their hand, which is their own peacenik agenda. Scheff, like a typical Noam Chomsky string-doll, couldn’t go five lines without saying: “The war system in which we are all so deeply involved has become too destructive to tolerate any longer.”
The real problem here isn’t a couple of old boobs searching for a reason to perk up again. Nor is it the obviously ludicrous attempt to indict our ROTC of free-speech violations on campus based on a federal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. The zit-twister in this affair is that there actually are some serious free-speech problems on this campus, major ones, which are affecting the quality of our education in a nasty way. And not only has the Academic Senate done nothing to fix those problems, but people like Bazerman and Scheff are guilty of perpetuating them.
I spoke to Brandon Brod, the former conduct educator and hate incidents response coordinator, who quit in the summer after three years. He confirmed the complaints of his own and what he had heard about numerous professors’ lack of understanding of the concept of free speech while he was at UCSB.
Indeed, ideological discrimination is rampant and extensively documented. It’s practiced in the form of biased grading, doctrinaire curricula and one-sided presentation of ideas in the classroom. As the president of Students for Academic Freedom on campus, I’ve collected 15 specific student complaints in just a few months. You can see them on www.studentsforacademicfreedom.org. You can view other complaints on www.noindoctrination.org. Victims include faculty and staff, as well as students, with dissenting views.
One junior professor here, who wished to remain anonymous out of ambition for tenure, told me that he knows three fellow junior professors who completely hide their true views – one of whom, he said, systematically distorts his own views. If that isn’t evidence of how serious the problem is, he doesn’t know what is.
Perhaps the fact that when I spoke to several other professors who refused to be referenced even anonymously, we had to speak in careful soft whispers – as if we were in a roomful of sleeping babies who might scream hysterically at the hint of a foreign sound.
Those babies will never wake up, and now they are using their own biases to once again try and deprive students of an educational opportunity; this time in the noble field of military affairs.
Open discussion of contested subjects and a good education – unlike sexuality and combat – are absolutely relevant to each other. That’s why what really needs review is a system that would hire and elevate such people as Charles Bazerman and Thomas Scheff.
Alec Mouhibian is a Daily Nexus columnist.