Academic freedom in Arizona
An Arizona state senator has introduced a bill in the Arizona legislature to allow college students students to refuse any assignment which they find morally offensive and would require teachers to provide alternatives.
Senate Bill 1331, introduced by Sen. Thayer Verschoor, R-Gilbert, would allow students from universities and community colleges to reject assignments they find objectionable to their religious, moral or sexual beliefs without financial or academic penalty.
The bill passed the Higher Education Committee on Feb. 15. If it passes the Rules Committee and the rest of the Legislature, teachers will have to provide an alternative assignment at a student's request.
"This legislation would impoverish the higher-education system for students," said Barbara Fahey, a professor of English at Scottsdale Community College.
A student complained about an assignment in an English class to read The Ice Storm, which includes scenes of spouse-swapping and other sexual content.
The whole thing started when a student complained that the book was offensive and wanted an alternative assignment. When the teacher refused, the college offered placement in another class. The student refused this and contacted State Senator Verschoor, who then produced the bill. It was pointed out that the syllabus for the course clearly stated that some material could be adjudged objectionable and reminded students that they could drop the class if they so chose.
How long would it take some of MY students to object immediately to every assignment I put before them? And further, who is this student to be able to have such pull with a state senator? I could use his help with a few matters....