Bill Could Force Profs to Defend Lectures

    Congress is revisiting legislation that, when proposed in 2003, would have created a board of national security officials charged with evaluating college curriculum in international studies classes.

    Greg Dale/Guardian
    Assistant professor Everard Meade teaches a course in the history of Mexico. Such international courses could be subject to federal review if a new bill is passed.

    Supporters of academia, who have called the legislation fascist and a deterrent to academic freedom, hope to see the bill lighten surveillance of foreign studies, designed to increase diversity of academic views and presentation.

    “International studies must be a national priority, something that this bill recognizes,” said Bruce Cuthbertson, spokesman for Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-Ohio), who proposed the reauthorization. “In addition, we are more aware than ever that America’s security needs advanced international knowledge and effective foreign language skills.”

    The bill applies to programs funded under Title VI of the Higher Education Act, which includes UCSD’s Center for Iberian and Latin American Studies. With seven such centers at UC Berkeley, six at UCLA and many others, California has more affected government-funded sites than any other state.

    The newly proposed federal board would be allowed to make recommendations on class content, as well as advise Congress and other government agencies.

    Such power is an abuse of the principles of public higher education, according to Latin American Studies Program Director Misha Kokotovic.

    “[The bill] infringes on the basic principles of academic freedom and of free and open inquiry that are the foundation of higher education,” Kokotovic stated in e-mail. “When bureaucrats start telling scholars and teachers what they can research and teach, it will be the end of any meaningful higher education.”

    While CILAS Director Christine Hunefeldt-Frode said that the day her class content is regulated by the government, she “will no longer teach.”

    “Look at the diversity of opinions and interpretations we have on every single subject-matter on campus,” she said. “What is it that needs to be regulated in order to have a multiplicity of points of view?”

    Readers can contact Matthew McArdle at [email protected].

    More to Discover
    Donate to The UCSD Guardian
    $210
    $500
    Contributed
    Our Goal

    Your donation will support the student journalists at University of California, San Diego. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment, keep printing our papers, and cover our annual website hosting costs.

    Donate to The UCSD Guardian
    $210
    $500
    Contributed
    Our Goal