Point of View: Baylor should address imbalanced curricula in academia

By Emily Hammon

Baylor’s Executive Vice President and Provost Elizabeth Davis has issued this statement; “Our specific call, at this critical moment, is to employ our collective imagination to determine the next steps to which our commitment and purpose point. The stakes are very high. … We must use all of our creativity to chart the many ways Baylor University can, and should, connect its commitments to its purpose to serve both church and world.”

As a Baylor student I am gratified that the university values our opinion and seeks to rectify problems that exist. This is my heartfelt suggestion to vastly improve Baylor.
Our college has expectations of each and every student that it expresses in the Student Handbook. Student expectations concerning how and what we learn should be given equal importance. The educational journey should offer an open forum of ideas allowing students to explore and benefit from diversity of thought.

Unfortunately some higher learning curriculums lack balance, therefore inhibiting the learning process. A movement for equal expression of ideas is sweeping the country and Baylor should join. It is expressed by the political left and right. Schools are being asked to allow the inclusion of formerly overlooked facts and ideology. Balance has not always been a priority but is becoming a reality through grassroots pressure, special interest groups and a change in the political culture. Students with differing opinions hold their tongues to avoid ridicule and academic penalty.

The lack of ideological parity reared its ugly head on a recent commentary by MSNBC’s Chris Matthews during the midterm elections coverage. Matthews was lamenting the lack of agreement on the need for governmental stimulus as an absolute necessity to jump-start the economy.

Without mentioning Keynesian economic theory by name, Matthews’ tone described this part of the theory as being sound, irrefutable policy. This way of thinking is not the surprising part, but what he continued to say was puzzling. Matthews stated that anyone who had attended college would know this is true. One must wonder if he has never been exposed to Hayek’s Austrian School of Economics. Did he not study competing theories or understand that economists have differing beliefs?

This lack of equity concerning competing thought is being addressed by a movement determined to introduce books into our institutions of higher learning that lack intellectual diversity.

Adopt a Dissenting Book Program allows students to introduce books into an overly narrow course, syllabus giving students a broader, more complete education.

Adopt a Dissenting Book Program is the brain child of a former communist activist Dr. David Horowitz. Horowitz details his movement’s achievements in an Aug. 3 Lifetime Achievement Award speech delivered in Washington, D.C. In it, Horowitz recounts one of his achievements: “We were able to get the American Council on Education, which represents 18,00 universities and colleges to support our core principles and to secure students unprecedented academic freedom at more than a dozen major schools, including Ohio State, Penn State and Temple University.”

The American Council on Education website defines its organization as “the only higher education organization that represents presidents and chancellors of all types of U.S. accredited, degree-granting institutions: community colleges and four-year institutions, private and public universities, and nonprofit and for-profit colleges.”
According to the site, the American Council on Education provides leadership on key higher education issues and influences public policy through advocacy, research and program initiatives.

“ACE fosters greater collaboration and new partnerships within and outside the higher education community to help colleges and universities anticipate and address the challenges of the 21st century and contribute to a stronger nation and better world,” the website said.

Baylor should join the movement for academic freedom and support an education free from undue bias and rich in diversity of thought. Our reputation as one of the top schools in the nation will be enhanced by our university’s commitment to an unparalleled education, and Baylor will reap the benefits of increased donor support.
Indoctrination in the classroom should no longer be tolerated by students, college and university boards, presidents nor the professors themselves.

Emily Hammon is a senior speech communications major from Pensacola, Fla., and a contributor for The Lariat.