Urban legends in academia?


Did you hear the story about the college professor who asked his class to write a mid-term essay on “Why George Bush is a war criminal,� and then gave an F grade to a student who had been offended by the assignment and had instead turned in one on “Why Saddam Hussein is a war criminal�?

I wrote about this in an op-ed piece that appeared in today’s (March 4, 2005) Plain Dealer.

You will be asked by the site to fill in your zip-code, year of birth, and gender for some kind of demographic survey. It takes about 10 seconds.

Update on 3/14/05

I received a call today from a person associated with Students for Academic Freedom informing me that this op-ed had triggered the release of more information on their website, where more details are given.

Although the student referred to had not in fact given this testimony at the Colorado Senate hearings as had been alleged earlier, the level of detail (which had not been released until now) provided on the SAF website is sufficient to remove this story from the category of urban legends since it does give some names and places and dates. But a judgment on whether this constitutes academic bullying will have to await the release of the facts of the case on what actually transpired between professor and student. My contact at SAF says that the incident is still under investigation.

Update on the update (3/15/05): It gets curioser and curioser.

The blog Canadian Cynic reports that new information on this case has come out and that Horowitz is now backtracking on almost all of the key charges that were originally made. Canadian Cynic highlights Horowitz’s statements now that “Some Of Our Facts Were Wrong; Our Point Was Right” and “”I consider this an important matter and will get to the bottom of it even if it should mean withdrawing the claim.”

See the article on the website Inside Higher Education. It seems to be the most authoritative source of information on this case.

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