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Pa. committee finds academic bias rare

In light of recent findings about political bias in academia, we are seriously questioning conservative activist David Horowitz’s grip on reality.

This past week, a bipartisan committee formed by the Pennsylvania House of Representatives concluded that there is no need to implement Horowitz’s so-called Academic Bill of Rights. The Associated Press reported that the committee determined political bias is rare in the Commonwealth’s public colleges.

While the committee is expected to recommend that colleges review their own policies and procedures related to students’ academic freedom, it seems like a knock-down blow to Horowitz’s cause.

Somehow, though, Horowitz found a way to twist the news. His most recent article — published in his own online magazine — is titled “Pennsylvania Committee Finds Students Have No Rights.” The article directly contradicts the Associated Press report and attempts to portray the committee’s findings as a victory for his partisan scheme.

Not only does Horowitz grossly misrepresent the committee’s actual findings, but in the bylined article Horowitz actually quotes himself: “David Horowitz, author of the Academic Bill of Rights and sponsor of a nationwide campaign for academic freedom, hailed the report as a ‘major victory in the battle for student rights.’ ”

Maybe Horowitz has written one too many double-speak press releases.

Horowitz, who was once a Marxist activist, now runs the online conservative magazine FrontPageMag.com — which routinely commits copyright infringement, reprinting articles (including some from The Tartan) without permission.

Horowitz has spent years lobbying state legislatures to enact laws that incorporate elements of his Academic Bill of Rights. The legislation would require professors to create syllabi that “reflect the uncertainty and unsettled character of all human knowledge.” In other words, professors could be taken to court for failing to include sources on their reading list that they feel have no academic value. His Bill of Rights uses the rhetoric of equality and justice to veil his attempt to constrain professors’ freedom and intellectualism.

Regardless of how Horowitz spins the committee’s findings, the Pennsylvania legislature came through with a sound decision. Universities should be open to review their policies on academic freedom if members of their respective communities deem it necessary. They should communicate clearly with students about their rights and options for recourse. But under no circumstances should state or federal government risk curtailing academic freedom in America’s institutions of higher learning.