Keep Professors' Freedoms Intact

As published in the Buchtelite Reporter

Apparently, the Ohio State Senate feels that we college students have impressionable minds and are incapable of forming our own opinions. What other reason would they have to present a bill that would prohibit university professors from entering into classroom discussions outside their field of study?

Among other devices designed to control universities, Ohio State Senate Bill 24 states, "faculty and instructors shall not infringe the academic freedom and quality of education of their students by persistently introducing controversial matter into the classroom or coursework that has no relation to their subject of study and that serves no legitimate pedagogical purpose." So basically, if a professor teaching Shakespeare speaks about a current event, he would be violating the law.

The point of this proposition is to prevent wide-eyed youths who are still forming their opinions about the world from hearing outside points of view. But if a college student has not yet formed opinions about controversial issues, it is doubtful that a professor going a little off subject will have much effect.

On the same note, perhaps the state of Ohio should raise the voting age. Almost all college students are over the age of eighteen, thus enabling them to vote. Since we are apparently unable to form our own beliefs, we probably should not be casting ballots. Or do most students just vote the way their professors vote?

If a professor does enter into a discussion on a controversial topic, the student is currently under no obligation to listen. They have the freedom to leave the classroom or simply tune out the teacher, though it may be beneficial for the student to hear another's viewpoint. It opens students up to new ideas and forces them to practice tolerance by being respectful of other opinions. In the real world, they will not be sheltered from hearing things they may not agree with.

If this bill were to come into effect, who would police it? Would each university employ classroom monitors to make sure professors stay on topic? Or would students have to report violations to the university? This method would cause many problems, provoking he-said-she-said cases. Maybe each student would be equipped with a tape recorder, and then professors would have to watch every word they say.

The state Senate is attempting to amass more control over public universities. The problem they are attempting to solve is not rampant among professors and does not present a danger to students. They have no concept of the real needs of college students, like state funding, most importantly. The senators should focus their energy on pressing issues facing college campuses and exert their power in that realm.

A University of Akron student has started several petitions protesting this bill. Hopefully, it will garner enough strength to grab the attention of our state officials.