When David Horowitz's new book attacking academics -- The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America -- was published last month, a coalition of academic and civil liberties groups announced that they were joining forces to combat the conservative activist's campaign.
At a press briefing Thursday, leaders of the coalition, Free Exchange on Campus, announced their specific plans for the months ahead. While the Academic Bill of Rights has failed to become law in any state, it has caused considerable controversy. The measure says that colleges should provide a variety of viewpoints in classes and that professors shouldn't discriminate on the basis of ideology. While most academics have no problem with such ideas, they do object to legislating them and say that the bill could lead to professors being sued or forced to cede classroom time to views such as Holocaust denial or creationism.
Megan Fitzgerald of the Center for Campus Free Speech, one of the groups involved in the coalition, said that one of the major efforts would be to organize students to appear whenever hearings are held on the legislation. Students were at hearings in Kansas this week and will be in Pennsylvania next week and "wherever this horrible proposal is rearing its head."
Other efforts being planned include:
- A new blog on the Free Exchange on Campus Web site.
- An outreach campaign to conservatives, who may disagree with the views of some of the coalition's members, but who agree with their opposition to government regulation of what takes place in classrooms.
- An advertising campaign.
As for Horowitz, he said that the new campaign reinforced his views. He said that the group was dominated by unions and was "obviously designed to stifle discussion and shut down the free exchange of ideas," adding that it was "just another episode in the long sordid history of Orwellian agitprop."