Letter to the Editor
The latest Tartan Editorial Board piece, ?I wasn?t using my academic rights, anyway,? highlights the confusion surrounding the proposed amendment to the University?s ?Students? Rights? policy that the Academic Affairs Committee presented to Student Senate and Vice-Provost for Education Indira Nair in early October. This effort has come under heavy criticism by some who have misunderstood the spirit behind it. Although the issue of academic freedom is a loaded one, sensationalizing the Committee?s intentions is not beneficial to the goal of helping students. All of us seek to ensure that students are not discriminated against in the classroom for their views, while preserving the ability of professors to shape the intellectual environment that drew all of us to Carnegie Mellon in the first place.
The ?third right of students? is nothing revolutionary. The proposed amendment does not limit academic freedom but enhances it by consolidating sections of University Policy into a form that would be more accessible and meaningful to students, the very ?alternative? suggested by some critics. Students should not have to sift through dense, cumbersome text to locate policies most relevant to them. Furthermore, the proposal makes no changes to the appeals process, a fair and thorough system as it exists.
We believe that this issue is the most important academic debate of our time. Students at colleges across the country are pushing for basic changes similar to ours, while others seek more drastic measures whose merits are debatable and unfortunately clouded by politics. Ultimately, Carnegie Mellon students will and should follow a constructive path of their own that best fits their needs. Only by maintaining an open dialogue between students, administrators, and faculty members can we work toward enhancing the goals of the University. In our view, both the student and the instructor play equally vital roles in an academic environment.