Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Update: Professors and Politics

Let me update you all on our current poll, since quite a few more people have voted since my earlier brief analysis. We're now up to 21 votes total, which is a rather respectable tally for a little blogspot like this one.

The more recent voters tend to be favoring more active espousal of political positions in the lecture hall. Two people (10%) have now even voted that professors should feel able to endorse political candidates or parties, which, of course, the IRS views as actionable.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Two people (10%) have now even voted that professors should feel able to endorse political candidates or parties, which, of course, the IRS views as actionable."

I am not sure you are right on this point. Institutions can't endorse candidates, but professors can (and do) endorse candidates all the time. Why, just look at all the professors who became politicians (and vice versa) -- Newt Gingrich, Henry Kissinger, Condoleeza Rice, Woodrow Wilson, John Kenneth Galbraith, Larry Summers, Robert Reich, etc. Certainly there is no shortage of political opinion (and actual candidate endorsements) from the Professors such as Angela Davis, Noam Chomsky, Paul Krugman, the faculty at the Hoover Institute, etc.

Wed Oct 04, 02:41:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger spankey said...

Having fought outright political speech in the classroom for most of my first year at our esteemed institution, I must admit my uneasiness about the recent trend in your poll.

I would point specifically to an event during my second year, the infamous Convocation sermon of 2005 as reason #1 why blatant political speech has no place in the pulpit or in the classroom.

In a world that has most unfortunatley become a "bumper sticker" world we are left with mere snipets of the whole of professor or preacher when parties or candidates are espoused openly from these venues. To support a candidate (or conversely to poke fun at one) leaves those on the other side feeling alienated and when done by a person in such a position of power many are left without recourse.

I am aware however that everytime one preaches the good news of God, the radicalness of the particular, that person is preaching politics. How one lives. How one votes. How one operates in a family system - each of these things are shaped and formed by their religious convictions. For that radical gospel to be tied in anyway to one political party or candidate is wrong and an abuse of power. So my vote is firmly in the NO category.

In the interest of full disclosure I am a registered Republican who voted twice for George W. Bush. (Once because I wanted my Social Security out of the government's hands and once because John Kerry entire platform was to do what Bush was doing only better) I am astonished and offended by the actions of the IRS against churches like All Saints Pasadena because of the obvious and glaring partisanship of it, however I belive that if one is willing to break the rules one must be willing to face the consequences.

Wed Oct 04, 02:46:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger S and C said...

Thank you both, Larry and Steve, for the comments! Of course, there is the question of what is good and right practice and then there is the technical question of IRS policy that Larry raises. I confess lack of expertise on the latter---I was going by the Pasadena situation, but the IRS might not consider a professor a representative of an institution in the same way a church's minister is a head figure (but in the Pasadena case, wasn't it a former pastor delivering the sermon in question?). The ACE has some notes at According to these notes, campaign ads and posters cannot be put on campus property. I assume this includes office doors. Also, members of the university community must participate in the election process "off hours" and specifically express their views are not the opinions of the college and university. It looks to me like there is a lot of grey area here, especially when at the end it says "the foregoing is not exhaustive." I'd like to learn more. Has anyone made a close study of this? ---Steve C.

Wed Oct 04, 03:43:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Eliz F said...

I think it would be interesting to see how votes break down by students/teachers...Spankey and I are both students, and both voted no; I wonder if some of the 10% who voted yes are professors and want to be able to exercise this "moral duty"?

I wonder if some professors aren't comfortable with the imbalance of power that exists between them and their students, and if this affects the way they see the issue--i.e., if they don't think such imbalance actually exists, and how it can seem to those of us trapped in our desks as an abuse of the professor's power to have him/her ranting about such issues to a captive audience that wants to be hearing about church history or theology or whatever.

Thu Oct 05, 07:30:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger S and C said...

Yeah, that would be interesting Elizabeth! I bet a lot of professors don't have a very good or consistent handle on these dynamics, or perhaps an under-developed learner attitude. ---SLC

Fri Oct 06, 07:37:00 AM GMT-5  

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