Monday, February 26, 2007

Hearing set for Emily Brooker Act

A bill inspired by the difficulties faced by a Missouri State University student who claimed her social work professor forced his students to lobby state legislators on behalf of gay adoption will have its public hearing 5 p.m. Tuesday before the House Higher Education Committee.

HB 213, the Emily Brooker Intellectual Diversity Act, is sponsored by Jane Cunningham, R-Chesterfield, and co-sponsored by Marilyn Ruestman, R-Joplin. It calls for requiring "each public institution to report annually to the general assembly detailing the steps the institution is taking to ensure intellectual diversity and the free exchange of ideas."

The bill says:

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;

(b) Incorporate intellectual diversity into institution statements, grievance procedures, 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;

(f) Include intellectual diversity issues in student course evaluations;

(g) Develop hiring, tenure, and promotion policies that protect individuals against viewpoint discrimination and track any reported grievances in that regard;

(h) Establish clear campus policies to ensure freedom of the press for students and report any incidents of student newspaper thefts or destruction;

(i) Establish clear campus policies to prohibit viewpoint discrimination in the distribution of student fee funds;

(j) Develop methods for disseminating best practices to ensure that conflicts between personal beliefs and classroom assignments that may contradict such beliefs can be resolved in a manner that achieves educational objectives without requiring a student to act against his or her conscience;

(k) Eliminate any speech codes that restrict the freedom of speech; or

(l) Create an institutional ombudsman on intellectual diversity.

(2) The report shall be distributed to the members of the general assembly no later than December thirty-first of each year, beginning in 2008.

(3) The report shall be posted on each public higher education institution's web site.

Information on Miss Brooker's lawsuit was featured in the Oct. 31 Turner Report. The university reached a settlement, which was featured in the Nov. 21 Turner Report.

1 comment:

Tom Kosakowski said...

The KC Star has an editorial by a UMKC professor opposing the bill.