The Missouri House of Representatives has passed a bill that would impose new rules on state colleges to “protect diversity” that includes this most interesting clause:
(1) The report required in this subsection shall address the specific measures taken by the institution to ensure and promote intellectual diversity and academic freedom. The report may include steps taken by the institution to:
(a) Conduct a study to assess the current state of intellectual diversity on its campus, including diversity-related criteria used in admissions, scholarship awards, and hiring which shall include racial and gender diversity;
(b) Incorporate intellectual diversity into institution statements, grievance procedures, which may include filing a complaint directly with the governing board, and activities on diversity;
(c) Encourage a balanced variety of campus-wide panels and speakers and annually publish the names of panelists and speakers;
(d) Establish clear campus policies that ensure that hecklers or threats of violence do not prevent speakers from speaking;
(e) Include intellectual diversity concerns in the institution’s guidelines on teaching and program development and such concerns shall include but not be limited to the protection of religious freedom including the viewpoint that the Bible is inerrant;
(f) Include intellectual diversity issues in student course evaluations;
I’m sorry, but this is not a bill to promote diverse views and protect intellectual freedom; it’s advocacy for the damned dumb views of religious fundamentalists. It’s an attempt to force religion into college classrooms.
Nelson, of the AAUP [American Association of University Professors], said that it was “particularly remarkable that the bill includes belief in the literal truth of the Bible under the heading of intellectual diversity.” He added that “requirements for balance in the curriculum and respect for intellectual diversity, in hiring, and in public speeches on the campus — coupled with reporting requirements — effectively mean that Missouri would no longer have any system of secular public higher education. Missouri’s fine universities would become religious schools if this bill were to be approved by the Senate.”
I do not talk about the Bible in my classes; I do not teach anything about religion in biology, and even tell students that they’re free to believe whatever they want, but that they’re expected to understand the principles of evolutionary biology. If this kind of bill were passed in my state, and I were required to allow Biblical literalism to be legitimized in biology, I’d have to respond in a fair and balanced way and include a lecture on why the Bible is biological nonsense. Is that what they want?
I’m wondering what Missouri biology teachers are going to do if students hand in introductory biology exams that give all the answers from a Biblical perspective, where the earth is 6000 years old, no evolution has occurred, and the answer to any question about speciation is “God did it.”
In case you’re wondering how such a stupid bill could pass, perhaps it was an example of “framing”.
Last year, a student complained that she was being forced to express views that differed from her religious views, and this month an outside panel that reviewed the social work program at Missouri State
found that students felt fearful of expressing views that differed from their professors, especially on spiritual and religious matters.
So maybe students shouldn’t bother expressing views on “spiritual and religious matters” to their professors. I sure don’t care; I won’t be evaluating them on what they learn in church at all. The classroom is not the place where your instructors are supposed to validate any random garbage that has found a niche in your head.