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Keep Enrolling, Richard Just, The
American Prospect

Should college teachers express political opinions in the
classroom? Richard Just in The American Prospect says
that undergrad classes are a ‘gray area,’ and we need to consider
the nature of the class and the students’ level of knowledge about
its subject. ‘We should not allow high-school teachers to use their
classrooms to advance a specific political view. That’s because we
assume their students lack a knowledge base sufficient to allow
them to distinguish fact from opinion,’ Just writes. However,
graduate-level students, in his opinion, ‘are expected to have
enough background in the field to handle such material in an
intellectually mature manner.’ Still, Just accepts that extreme
cases present some ambiguity, as with a scenario that one of his
critics asserts: ‘One might learn a great deal about the eugenics
movement from an unrepentant Nazi, but that would not justify
empowering the Nazi by permitting him use of the classroom as a
bully pulpit.’ These sorts of questions require ‘some tough
judgment calls to be made,’ writes Just. ‘But it’s the job of
universities to make them.’
–Julie Madsen
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