Archive for Monday, May 17, 2004

Faculty response

May 17, 2004


To the editor:

The recent letter to the editor which links the statewide hostility to the Kansas University system to the supposed rampant liberalism of university faculty brings up a fundamental question about the university mission. There is nothing Republican or Democratic, atheist or evangelical, about physics, civil engineering, Shakespeare, Balzac, women's studies or Chinese. Faculty members do not promote political parties or candidates in class, nor do they preach religion.

This is in fact university policy. Faculty members do promote correct grammar, articulate speaking and writing, and knowledgeable thinking. But now we are in a new era of "big brother is watching," whose obsession is with finding signs of social dissolution in the form of general ungodliness. This is a morbid obsession that means only one thing to me: avoidance of the complexity of what really matters, the economic and social problems of actual human lives.

The university, by the way, neither fixes nor causes those problems. We are here to present students with a liberal education, where liberal means broad and global, present and past, with the main focus on elevating levels of knowledge and skills of interpretation. Anyone in my class gets an A who demonstrates competence, preparedness, and who makes a good argument, no matter what I personally think of that argument. This is the case now, has always been the case, and will always remain the case.

Keith McMahon,


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