I dont mind the classes with porn in them. its the classes with MATH that i find offensive :)


SCC faculty: Opt out of this proposal By Andrea Falkenhagen, Tribune February 19, 2006

A law that would allow college students to opt out of class assignments they find offensive is making Scottsdale Community College faculty members fear they could lose control of their courses content.

You couldnt have a college if students could simply veto the assignment. They could simply say, Give me something else to read, and it would make my job impossible, said professor Nicholas Damask, who teaches political science at SCC.

The bill, which the Senate Committee on Higher Education approved Wednesday, would make instructors offer alternative course work for students who find any assignment offensive to their sexuality, morality or religion.

It was introduced by Sen. Thayer Verschoor, R-Gilbert, who said a community college student complained when he was assigned to read Rick Moodys The Ice Storm, which contains scenes of sexuality and drug use.

This whole bill is generated from one specific situation, and thats the sadness of it, said faculty senate president Jim Simpson, who said there is a groundswell of faculty organizing to fight the bill.

The Legislature is turning around and saying, Your expertise doesnt matter were going to let a student, who is at the most a novice, decide what is acceptable to learn the principles youre teaching in this class, said Barbara Fahey, an SCC English instructor.

That sends education on its head.

Fahey also believes the legislation would have a chilling effect on academic freedom.

Theres nothing I would think of that would keep it from being extended to what I cant talk about in my class, she said.

To learn is to encounter things that you dont like. If you dont want to encounter things you dont like, then dont pursue education.

True education is understanding why those things make you uncomfortable, not hiding from them, she said.

Yet Damask, who considers the bill unworkable and an assault on academic freedom, said the legislation was written with the idea of making a statement, and that faculty members should listen to the message.

This says to faculty members, Stop politicizing the classroom, he said.

Theres a lot of faculty members and I have to say most are on the left side of the political spectrum they think the classroom is their playground. Were supposed to be social scientists or chemists or anthropologists, not just supposed to be spouting off our political opinions in the classroom.

Student leadership chairman Erik Esper, 21, said he is a Christian but welcomes the opportunity to read about things with which he doesnt agree.

If he read something he was uncomfortable with, such as a pornographic scene in a book, Esper said he believes he has a right to simply skip the section and let the instructor know it was offensive.

You could say, If you have material on this test, Id like not to be graded on this section. Im sure the majority of the faculty would be fine with that, he said.

Contact Andrea Falkenhagen by email, or phone (480) 970-2348

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