"Student Bill of Rights" Adopted at Princeton:

According to the Daily Princetonian, in a referendum this week the student body voted to adopt of the "Student Bill of Rights."

One article summarizes the proposal as follows:

The bill, known commonly as the SBOR, was crafted by the College Republicans, and is loosely based on conservative author David Horowitz's academic and student bills of rights, to promote "academic freedom and intellectual diversity within the University community." The SBOR outlines principles for removing ideology from student grading, classroom discussions, professor hiring and the selection of campus speakers.

From what I can tell, there is no binding effect of the policy, it is just a statement of principle by the Princeton student body. According to the story: "USG president Alex Lenahan '07 will now sign the SBOR, 'making it the official statement of the Princeton University student body,' USG vice president Rob Biederman '08 said."

The supporters of the referendum acknowledge that the Student Bill of Rights was inspired by David Horowitz's Academic Bill of Rights, but also state that they disagree with his "tactics" (although I can't tell for sure what that means). Somewhat amusingly, one article seems to suggest that the response by the Student Assembly to the success of the referendum will be to consider whether it is too easy to place student referenda on the ballot (even though this proposal gained majority support after a highly-contested campaign).

I have previously expressed my disagreement with Horowitz's Academic Bill of Rights. Nonetheless, as I think this grassroots effort at Princeton indicates, there also seems to be a deep frustration out there that lies behind efforts such as Horowitz's and Princeton's. In particular, I think there is a widespread lack of confidence in the ability of universities to take these concerns seriously and to engage in responsible self-governance on this issue. In that light, it will be interesting to see what, if anything, will be the response of the Princeton administration to this. Unless colleges and universities start paying attention to this issue and these frustrations, I suspect that that internal efforts such as Princeton's will be imitated on other campuses and that Horowitz will continue to gain headlines (and eventually legislative support, I fear).

HT: Stephen Balch at Phi Beta Cons


Commenter EricK has posted the text of the Princeton Bill of Rights in the Comments here.