By Erik Rush
Writing for Fox News last week, Kyle Rothenberg detailed the story of a University of Pennsylvania sociology professor (or what passes for one these days) who routinely inquired of his students’ political affiliation, later targeting those who self-identified as Republican or conservative for ridicule.
Sociology Professor Hocine Fetni “asks the class directly to raise their hand if they are ‘Republican’ and uses that information to question them throughout the semester,” said Jennifer Knesbach, vice president of the school’s College Republicans.
“This is absolutely not true,” Fetni told FoxNews.com, while admitting he once asked both Republicans and Democrats to raise their hand in his law and society class before a debate. “For me, this is something so important. I’m a teacher. And I’m not going to mess with the minds of these kids. I want to help them. I always tell them to be proud of their ideas and defend them. If you have an idea from the right or the left, learn what it is and be able to defend it.”
However, notes from University of Pennsylvania’s student government meetings reportedly show “students have expressed growing concern about what they consider a hostile climate for Republicans.”
Fetni, a native of Algeria who came to study in the U.S.. has since become a dual citizen. According to one source, “he has worked with human rights groups to allow those seeking political asylum to enter the U.S. from North Africa.” This for one makes me suspicious as hell given the widespread reports of clandestine refugee policy go-arounds executed by the Obama administration.
Knesbach said many conservative students are concerned about potential consequences for speaking out, and said faculty members who counsel graduates about jobs have told them not to include membership in the College Republicans organization on their resume.
Still, the concerns were enough to prompt Faculty Chairman for the Committee on Open Expression Professor Stephan’s Bibas to recommend including a question on students’ course evaluations “that asks if students have felt a professor’s actions have created circumstances to make it difficult for the student to fully express themselves.”
The student government reportedly abandoned the idea, citing evidence that universities with such bias reporting systems can intimidate students as well as professors. That doesn’t seem to make much sense considering the existing complaints of intimidation, but we’ll go with that for now…
What bothers me as well are the contradictory stories. Fetni denies the students’ claims of bias outright, and the Open Expression Professor (whatever that is) Bibas says that the school never decided against implementing a bias survey.
College Republicans vice president Knesbach said a solution for the disaffected Republican students is “still being sought.”