Letter to the Editor: Speak to Senate members about Accommodations Policy


LaDoris Kelsey should be congratulated for her well-reasoned letter to the Chronicle (“An accommodations policy is ridiculous, Jan. 14”) and for her willingness to speak out against aspects of the proposed accommodations policy still under consideration by the Academic Senate.

Kelsey understands what all too many persons do not:

1) The central question is not one of faculty members’ rights versus students’ rights, but of the appropriate criteria for determining course content.

2) A college-level education requires considering and evaluating alternative viewpoints, including viewpoints that conflict with one’s own beliefs.

3) Course content accommodations are different from scheduling accommodations and from accommodations covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Once approved, the Accommodations Policy will define the educational character of the U.

In its presently proposed form, the policy is correct in many respects. However, it errs in that it would formally institutionalize the principle that instructors may alter legitimate course content simply and expressly to avoid conflict with personal beliefs, even when those beliefs have no reasonable relationship to any legitimate academic goal and their validity may not be evaluated.

These are not appropriate criteria for altering course content, just as they are not appropriate criteria for altering grades or research results.

So warns Derek Bok, the former president of Harvard University: ‘By compromising basic academic principles, universities tamper with ideals that give meaning to the scholarly community and win respect from the public'” (Ethics, 2004 Annual Report, U of U Office of the VP for Research).

I encourage everyone to consider the issues and, as appropriate, to communicate their views to the members of the Academic Senate before or during the Feb. 7 Senate meeting.

Gregory A. Clark

Associate Professor,