Sunday, November 14, 2004

The Brazenness of Academia

Today’s (Sunday’s) Providence Journal posts an article on the plight of the quazi-conservative student of social work at Rhode Island College. The student, 41 year old Bill Felkner, who is pursuing a Masters Degree in Social work, is not even a conservative in the strictest sense as the article refers to him as a libertarian having “liberal views on social issues and conservative views on economics.”

From the Projo:

“AT RHODE ISLAND College, the controversy began with a movie, Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11, a documentary deeply critical of the Bush administration. A professor in the School of Social Work showed the film to his students. Felkner, who was not in a class where the movie was showed, rented it.

Afterward, Felkner asked one of his professors, Jim Ryczek, to show a movie called FahrenHYPE 9/11, which challenges Moore's point of view.

Ryczek, in an e-mail to Felkner, declined to show the movie in his class, but said Felkner was welcome to show it on campus. (FahrenHYPE 9/11 was later shown in several classes taught by another professor.)

Then [Professor] Ryczek sent an e-mail to Felkner telling him:
"I will be the first to admit a bias toward a certain point of view. . . . In the words of a colleague, I revel in my biases.

"So I think anyone who consistently holds antithetical views to those espoused by the profession might ask themselves whether social work is the profession for them. . . . "

Ryczek concluded by saying, "I don't want you to think that I am suggesting that you are such a person. But then again, you may be. Only you can make that determination….

…According to Ryczek, social workers are committed to helping poor and oppressed communities become empowered to make positive changes. That theory, he says, "is not consistent with the most conservative views."

Ryczek believes, for example, that a comprehensive welfare state is the optimal form of government.

"I talk about my views," he says. "The students need to decide whether they agree with them and whether they belong in social work."
Whatever happened to academic freedom, and the free exchange of ideas? How did academe become so dogmatic and brazen in their liberal views which have been tried and found wanting?

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