Category Archives: academic freedom

Don’t think, just be

I have been working on a post about bacon and Christmas, but that is going to have to wait.  I have my undies in a bunch and need to vent a bit.  The bacon Christmas connection will have to come later this weekend…

Friday I got one of my regular emails from the American Humanist Association.  There was a brief story about their recent ad campaign to raise awareness about bigotry toward atheists.  The holiday season seems to heighten everyone’s sensitivities about this sort of stuff (which is interesting in and of itself).  Along with the story was a picture of the ad.  I found the ad to be thought provoking, so I thought it would be enlightening for our students to post a few copies around campus.

On our campus, all bulletin board posts need approval.  So, I went to get approval at the student affairs office, and was promptly denied!

Say what!  I asked why and the guy in charge said it had nothing to do with a student organization.  Alright, well, according to our University’s new Strategic Plan, one of our core values is Diversity.  Under the value of diversity it reads, “Promote the expression of differing opinions and beliefs.”  PROMOTE!  Either he didn’t get the memo or the Strategic plan is lip service.  It really does look good on paper.

Okay, maybe for some strange reason the post was considered religious.  I’m not sure how a non-belief can be religious, but each to their own.  So I tried  a different tactic.  In the faculty handbook he states something to the effect that in our teaching we should encourage critical thinking in our students.  What could encourage critical thinking more than a poster that says atheists are discriminated against in a community that is predominately Christian. I would hope a student would read that and think, “Hmm, bias against atheists?  What reason would someone have for being atheist? Wait, what reason do I have for being Christian?  What is the source of my beliefs?  How do they differ from an atheists beliefs.  I should go to the website on the bottom of the add and find out more.”  I made the argument to the one in charge that my teaching extends beyond the classroom.

He retracted his initial No dice stance, and said that he would take my comments under consideration.  If I don’t hear back from him by Monday I should give him a call.  This is a clever ploy, as next week finals start on Tuesday so traffic on campus will be much reduced and the impact of the ad will be much reduced.

I am going to check out the American Humanist website a bit further to see if I can find a flier that is not so seasonal that i might have up and read to go the first day of the Spring semester.

Perhaps I should close with a few questions reads might comment on:

Why would a university administrator’s knee-jerk reaction be to deny a post that raises awareness for a diversity issue?

More importantly, why is it okay to post advertisements for fellowship dinners at the Baptist Student Union or the Wesley House and not okay to post a sign that suggests there are people in the community that have different beliefs than the majority? (Note to point: I saw a sign near the student affairs office advertising a Christian Addiction support group.)

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