BY RUDY FICHTENBAUM
This is a guest post by AAUP president Rudy Fichtenbaum, a professor of economics at Wright State University.
In her speech at CPAC Secretary DeVos stated:
“Now let me ask you: How many of you are college students?
The fight against the education establishment extends to you too. The faculty, from adjunct professors to deans, tell you what to do, what to say, and more ominously, what to think. They say that if you voted for Donald Trump, you’re a threat to the university community. But the real threat is silencing the First Amendment rights of people with whom you disagree.”
I was asked if I had a response to her speech and here is my response.
The comment by Secretary DeVos that “the faculty, from adjunct professors to deans, tell you what to do, what to say and more ominously, what think.” shows that she has probably not set foot in a classroom on a college or university campus since graduating from college. Faculty get paid to tell students what to do. We give them reading assignments to prepare for class. We assign them papers, projects, have them do experiments and make presentations and tell them when they are due. We tell them what they should study for exams. If we didn’t do these things, we would not be doing our jobs. No faculty member that I know tells students what to say, nor do they tell them what to think. Faculty may give students their own opinion, where opinions can differ. But faculty members also know the difference between facts and lies, and the overwhelming majority of faculty members I know, whatever their political views might be, will generally encourage debate and differences of opinion, and grade students on the basis of whether their argument is logical and backed up with facts, something Secretary DeVos seems incapable of doing, as evidenced by her statement on faculty. Lewis Carrol wrote in Alice in Wonderland ”Imagination is the only weapon in the war against reality.” Given the fact that Secretary DeVos works in an administration where there are “alternative facts” it would appear that her view of faculty is firmly rooted in her imagination.