Letter to the editor: Amending SRU’s Non-discrimination Policy

Published by Brian McLaughlin, Date: May 7, 2019
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To whom it may concern,

I write to you today to address an issue that is affecting many Slippery Rock University students. Upon being honorably discharged from the United States Marine Corps, I matriculated to this university in January of 2017. This was an interesting time to attend an American university and an interesting time for our nation. During my time here, I and other students have witnessed countless instances of hostile and discriminatory political bias by faculty members in and outside of class. These incidents have occurred in both political and non-political classes. While this does not always directly affect the educational experience of students, it often does. After years of talking to many students, past and present, I write this today for the future students of Slippery Rock University in addressing what I and many others, including some faculty, consider ideological discrimination.

Many students report they have not felt comfortable voicing their opinions in classes including discussion classes, and a comparable amount admit that their academic advisors advise them to avoid certain classes due to the political hostility of the instructor. This not only affects the educational experiences of the aforementioned students but all of the students in classes where this environment exists.

College is a time when students can learn by giving their opinions, having their opinions challenged, and hearing opinions and arguments they have never heard. There are clearly instructors who remain objective, and some who can be respectfully subjective in the classroom and unequivocally objective in grading and assessing student performance. As paying students of this university, this is what we should expect and demand. Students should be able to voice their opinions and not be belittled and/or told they are subjectively wrong, and most importantly not have to fear their grade will suffer for their valid opinions.  There are professors who are known to grade students differently because of their political ideology. This has negatively affected the grades and therefore the futures of students who do not ideologically align with their instructor. This is entirely unacceptable.

Because grading is not all multiple choice, it is difficult to prove subjective and discriminatory grading. Therefore, students who feel they have been personally affected by this phenomenon need a way to petition the school for redress and grievances that goes beyond talking to a dean. Ideological discrimination should be viewed no differently than any other type of discrimination already disallowed by not only the school but also at the state and federal levels. Slippery Rock University already does not tolerate discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, religion, age, disability or veteran status.

It is clear that Slippery Rock University dedicates itself to combating discrimination at all levels, which is why I respectfully request the non-discrimination policy at this university be amended to include political ideology. This will provide students who experience ideological discrimination in some way to address and remedy potential mistreatment like the other groups of students mentioned in the school’s non-discrimination policy. This policy change is necessary to ensure all students at Slippery Rock University receive a rock solid education.

Respectfully,

Brian McLaughlin

SRU College Republicans President

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