Colorado Hearing: Evidence that History Professors Are Biased

Roundup: Talking About History

From (Feb. 6, 2004):

Last June, David Horowitz visited Colorado and suggested to lawmakers that an Academic Bill of Rights was needed to protect students from faculty abuses. In the months that followed, Students for Academic Freedom Clubs were formed across the state and began gathering evidence of these abuses.

Colorado Senate President John Andrews then sent a letter to every college president in the state asking them to provide statements describing their protections for students and detailing any problems on their campuses.

At the same time, he convened an ad hoc legislative committee to hear from students and faculty members about whether academic freedom is adequately being protected on state-supported colleges and universities. The hearings were held on December 18.

Despite the fact that the hearings took place when most universities were in the midst of final exams, more than 30 students showed up to testify. Congregating on the third floor committee room in the Colorado State Capitol, they were joined by media representatives, college administrators, legislators, and members of the public at large. has obtained transcripts of this two-and-a-half-hour hearing. They reveal an environment of bias and hostility towards conservative viewpoints on Colorado campuses. We see many examples: a professor insisting that student Republicans withdraw from the Political Science Association; a professor teaching one-sided history class in which students were told that Ethel and Julius Rosenberg were"martyrs" and that Stalin was a victim of U.S. persecution; a student skipping classes out of fear of the professor's tactic of ridiculing and humiliating conservative students in front of the class, and so on.

Readers can decide for themselves whether an Academic Bill of Rights is in order for Colorado schools . - Editors

ANNE CLODFELTER: I would like to thank the committee and the president and the senators' representatives for listening to my statement. I'd just like to read something I wrote up. I am a sophomore from Metro State College and I am currently pursuing a history major. I am working towards a career as a historian, researcher, or even a college professor and I am concerned about the level of liberal bias towards lawmakers and presidents in history that I see in my school. Those professors are excellent teachers and it is a pleasure to be taught by them. However, some professors see the classroom as an instrument with which to liberally indoctrinate the students. The professor has, in my American History, in the fall semester of 2003, was a very qualified teacher.

At that time, there was no room in her class for conservative points of view. Every day, she used the classroom as a sounding board and she insulted the president whose policies are those of Republican lawmakers. One day she got up in front of the class and told us that the president could not be an historian and be a Republican. This hurt me very much because I am a conservative and I want to be a historian. Another time, she got up in front of the class and said that President Bush started the Iraqi war because he got a hard-on. I thought this was a very inappropriate way to be talking about the president. Instead of spending on history, my professor spends a significant amount of time lecturing on current programs of the Republicans and the president. When my peers or I tried arguing and tried to question or argue against her ideas, she ridiculed them, leaving the person feeling humiliated in front of the class. One of my more outspoken conservative peers began skipping classes because as she told the teacher, she was afraid to come to class.

The teacher refused to acknowledge the student's fears. The political talk is one thing, I would not have to deal with her after the class is over, but I had a hard time dealing with political bias towards history. The books she chose for the class called President Reagan's philosophy on the use of tax cuts to boost the economy, quote, “a naïve plan.” When tax cuts worked to boost the economy, the book stated it was, quote, “Good luck.” The book and the teacher portrayed the Rosenberg's as martyrs, and Stalin and his successors in the Soviet Union as persecuted by the United States. This bias towards history affected me as a history major because I want to leave college with an understanding of the conservative viewpoints of history as well as the liberal ones. I want to get the whole picture.

I am deeply discouraged about the idea of becoming a college professor because of what I see on campus. The severe lack of conservative faculty at my college and the way the conservative faculty is treated have led me to believe that I will have a hard time finding a position if I do decide to become a college professor. I have given serious thought about teaching at the collegiate level, but currently I do not see this as a realistic possibility until hiring and firing practices is free from discrimination. The majority of professors on campus are good teachers, they leave their biases out of the classroom. College professors like the one I had this Fall need to be made accountable for their statements and how it affects their students. Professors are already made accountable for how they treat minority students in their classrooms. I do not think that the way they treat students with different political affiliations should be any different.

SENATOR JOHN ANDREWS: Of course you recognize that a history text or any book of history that takes a dissembling view about the history of the Cold War or the effect of Reagan's economic policies has just as much right in the curriculum as any other book. You recognize that, don't you ma'am?


SENATOR JOHN ANDREWS: You mentioned hiring and firing practices needing to be free of discrimination in order for a student like yourself to want to pursue a career in teaching in higher education. Do you have any firsthand instances or specifics that would make you believe there is such discrimination, because the written policy summary submitted to me by all the presidents emphasize that there is not supposed to be any such discrimination on the basis of one's political or religious beliefs in being hired, fired or promoted in the faculty? Do you have anything to the contrary that would be specific?

ANNE CLODFELTER: How I see they have treated, the way they treated this professor and also how I have seen that there are not a lot of conservative faculty and I'm just thinking that just as many conservative faculty would want to be teachers as liberal faculty, and I just think that, I mean, some people think that most liberals would want to be teachers, but I still think that there should be more conservative faculty, but…


ANNE CLODFELTER: It just seems like it...

SENATOR JOHN ANDREWS: Yes, Representative Paccione.

REPRESENTATIVE PACCIONE: Thank you, Mr. President. I'm just curious to know how you know the number of conservative faculty in the university?


ANNE CLODFELTER: All the teachers I've had so far seem to have a very liberal point of view. I even had a teacher that has come up to me and had a conservative point of view. They all seem to have, they made quotes about the president, quotes about politics, just on the side, usually on the side, with the students just offhand remarks that pretty much dictates that they are liberal faculty and so far I haven't had a teacher that hadn't done that and now it just gives me pretty much a perspective that none of them are conservative.

SENATOR ANDREWS: Let me just point out one other thing I heard you say. You had mentioned having to sit in a classroom and listen to insults against the President and members of Congress and State Legislatures and I can't speak for Congress and the president, but we as state legislators are fairly well insult-proof here, so not a concern.


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