By Diane Durbin
As an educational institution, college is supposed to be a place for learning and sharing ideas. Unfortunately, universities have increasingly become bastions of liberal thought, often times alienating students with more conservative points of view. Whether the class is political science or the history of music, the classroom is not the appropriate place for political bias. Students should never be able to determine a professor’s political point of view.
I would like to share an experience I had a couple years ago as a student at Texas A&M University. As part of my curriculum to attain a BS in Environmental Geoscience, I was required to take a class on natural resources, a class I really looked forward to. It turned out to be my least favorite class thanks to my professor and his teaching style. At the end of the semester, we were assigned to watch Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth, a documentary which attempts to convince people that global warming is a serious worldwide problem. We discussed the film the following day. The professor asked, “Does anyone not agree with the points made in the film?” I, along with another student, raised my hand, because I have never believed that “the science is settled” on this issue as global warming alarmists like to claim. Either the other students completely agreed with the film or they did not and were too afraid to raise their hands. For the remainder of the class period, my fellow classmate and I were put on the spot and continuously questioned. The professor did not hesitate to make it clear where he stood on the issue: to put it short, global warming is the biggest problem our generation faces and humans are to blame. It did not take me long to realize we were not simply being asked to share our point of view for discussion with the class. We were being attacked in front of the entire class for disagreeing with the film and apparently the professor too. At the end of class, the professor concluded by saying we were wrong and reinforcing his own point of view. It was the most uncomfortable position I had ever been in in a college classroom. This was not education, this was liberal propaganda.
The fact is, the science surrounding global warming is not settled, and therefore, it is a debatable issue and should be open for debate in a college classroom. There were two problems with this assignment. First, Al Gore’s documentary has come under attack by thousands of scientists for presenting false scientific claims. A high court in London found the documentary contained nine errors. Furthermore, the court said the errors arose in “the context of alarmism and exaggeration” in an effort to support Gore’s thesis on global warming. So why are we being assigned to watch a film that was proven to contain inaccurate information? Second, we were never presented with the other side of the debate. There is another documentary, The Great Global Warming Swindle, which presents a different analysis of the issue. This film, however, did not support my professor’s partisan political views. According to him, there is no debate to be had.
Pushing a political agenda in the classroom is not the job of a college professor. This experience I had was one of many. It concerns me that this is becoming the norm in institutions of higher education. Creating an atmosphere in the classroom in which opposing ideas are suppressed and students are afraid to speak up for the sake of their grades is not good for the education of all students.
Diane Durbin is a recent college graduate who works as an intern at the Texas Public Policy Foundation.