As a Women’s Studies baby, this is absolutely terrifying to me:
“Academic freedom” may not sound like an expression to strike fear in the hearts of women’s studies departments.
But as more and more schools and states pass legislation based on a document called the Academic Bill of Rights–Pennsylvania most recently joined the list in July–and support builds for it in Congress, many women’s studies departments can expect increased intrusion this September.
One national organization is truly alarmed. “If one student believes that only one side of a topic was presented,” a grievance could be filed, followed by a lawsuit, warned Ruth Flower, director of the department of public policy and communications at the Washington-based American Association of University Professors. “Women’s studies would have to try to litigate or close down,” she added, noting that the legal battles could deplete the already meager funding for many women’s studies programs and departments.
Women’s eNews intern/writer Rachel Corbett goes on to point out that women’s studies isn’t the only discipline in danger:
In a handbook published by Students For Academic Freedom, a Washington group driving the legislative push to restrain what they see as liberal bias on campus, National Campus Director Sara Dogan singles out women’s studies–along with cultural studies and English literature–as primary foes of intellectual diversity.
So I guess my BA in English and MA in Women’s Studies makes me like a minion of the intellectual devil…
According to Corbett, 16 states have already introduced “academic freedom” legislation in the past two years, and that the Academic Bill of Rights Resolution is gaining increasing support. She also makes the very good point that proponents of this type of legislation are co-opting progressive language (i.e. diversity, equality) to push a super right-wing agenda.
“There are already mechanisms in place that protect this principle, and they work well,” reads a rejoinder from the American Association of University Professors. “Not only is the Academic Bill of Rights redundant, but, ironically, it also infringes on academic freedom in the very act of purporting to protect it.”
What I find hysterical: The people who support this legislation because they think Women’s Studies is “dangerous” are the same folks who argue that it’s obsolete. If feminism is dead then why do they need to kill it?