Can’t Talk–Faculty Are Nearby

We sometimes Google our contributors to see how they are doing. That’s how we noticed that Professor Donald A. Downs of the University of Wisconsin, Madison, delivered a talk on free speech at another branch of the University of Wisconsin (River Falls) and added these words in a letter to the student paper praising its coverage:

“(In conversation after the talk) 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 (between Governor Scott Walker and the unions).”

“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.”

John Leo

John Leo is the editor of Minding the Campus, dedicated to chronicling imbalances within higher education and restoring intellectual pluralism to our American universities. His popular column, "On Society," ran in U.S.News & World Report for 17 years.

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