Friday, December 21, 2007

Are we scared yet?

In case there's any space for national news left amid the Natalee Holloway updates and the Four More Shopping Days furor, here's an unnerving development on the academic front. A major Midwestern* university advises its faculty:
"You are strongly encouraged to visit the Provost web site ... and use the sample statements in your syllabus in future academic semesters."

Nothing unfamiliar when it comes to academic dishonesty and ADA accommodation. But what's this new item -- intellectual pluralism? Glad you asked!

The statement on Intellectual Pluralism is new to the website. It was added in response to legislation and Board of Curators’ interest. This statement was then adopted by the Faculty Council earlier this fall and recommended to our office for distribution to the faculty.

And what is it those forward-looking legislators and curators have talked the Provost's Office into?

Sample Statement for Intellectual Pluralism
The University community welcomes intellectual diversity and respects student rights. Students who have questions concerning the quality of instruction in this class may address concerns to either the Departmental Chair or Divisional leader or Director of the Office of Students Rights and Responsibilities. ... All students will have the opportunity to submit an anonymous evaluation of the instructor(s) at the end of the course.

Well, there's a lot to be said for intellectual diversity, student rights and quality of instruction, but it's hard to imagine three sequiturs that go together any more non than that. Not hard at all, though, to figure out the subtext, is it?

It'd be nice if someone decided to make a fight out of this one. Now that the Western Front of the War On Christmas has stabilized, that is.

*Nowhere near Warren Avenue, should you be scoring along at home.


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