The new Ball State chapter of Students for Academic Freedom has been making news at Ball State University. SAF President Brett Mock has been pursuing his own academic freedom by exposing the Introduction to Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution class for what it was, a course through which the extreme pacifist ideology of Professor George Wolfe was imposed on the class.
Thus far, the University has all but ignored Mock's complaint and has completed an "investigation" into this issue without even contacting or meeting with Mock himself. It is interesting that Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Beverly Pitts has been able to come to the conclusion that Mock's claims are unsubstantiated and/or faulty without even speaking with him. SAF National Campus Director Sara Dogan wrote a letter on behalf of Students for Academic Freedom and Brett Mock to President Gora outlining Mock's concerns and experiences in the class. Pitts responded to that letter explaining that her investigation included speaking with Professor Wolfe, reviewing the course syllabus, and reviewing forwarded opinions from other students in the class. While her efforts to build a defense were quite thorough, Pitts has shown no interest in learning more about Mock's experiences and has not shown interest in allowing him to substantiate his own claims. She instead has chosen to play the role of steward for university professors with blatant disregard for those who have been unsatisfied with their treatment in the classroom.
Professor John Rouse, of the Political Science Department, invited both Mock and bsyou.net founder Amanda Carpenter to speak about issues of academic freedom in front of his class on Friday, October 1st. In e-mail communications with Mock, Rouse described an environment in the classroom that would allow Mock and Carpenter to chase their truths. However, in the classroom itself, when Mock attempted to present to Rouse, the class, and Star Press reporter Seth Slabaugh the evidence that supported his claims, Professor Rouse said that it was not the appropriate time or place to do so. He directed Mock to go through the procedures that are available at Ball State to get his B+ in the class raised to an A. However, Professor Rouse seems to miss the point.
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Mock has not complained about the grade he received in the class. The procedure that is available to contest the grade a student has received in a class, therefore, is not the appropriate forum through which Mock can handle his issues of academic freedom and indoctrination in the classroom. Essentially, no procedure exists to handle Mock's issue of an institutional problem of ideological indoctrination in the classroom. Mock's issue is not a personal one but an institutional one that he is exposing and trying to address. Mock does not feel that working within the university procedures will be worthwhile, as it appears the administration has no interest in his experiences. How can he have any faith in the administration or university to correct the problem internally if they do not even contact him when completing an investigation into his complaints?
The only way this will be fixed is if the administrators who are protecting the professors who engage in in-class indoctrination are exposed to the public. Maybe then the university will take action, maybe then the university will have the encouragement needed to protect academic freedom.
Last Updated: 11/18/04