By Chelsea Albers, JMI Intern and Florida State University Junior in International Affairs & Languages
Many students of all political persuasions can relate to my frustration with teachers who use the classroom as their own political forum. Recently, one of my professors made an unnecessary political comment, predicting that “the House and the Senate will be taken over by the Republican Party because there are a bunch of angry white people.” This comment does not stand alone; he has made numerous unnecessary jokes pertaining to Glenn Beck and the Tea Party movement as well. In the past, I have also had teachers who, during class, have made remarks such as “Marco Rubio is an idiot” and have described their conservative friends as “too dumb to get accepted into community college” because they wanted to decrease government spending.Usually, I enjoy my classes, and I have had some excellent teachers; however, such political comments made by professors hinder students’ learning experiences and damages student-professor relations. After my professor’s statement, I was so agitated about his depiction of Republicans as “angry, white people” that I could hardly concentrate on the remainder of the lecture, and I feel discouraged from attending his office hours or asking for help.Creating a safe learning environment in the classroom needs to be a professor’s number one priority. When a teacher shares his political opinions with his class, the student no longer feels safe. The student is immediately under pressure to agree with the teacher because expressing a dissenting opinion could create tension between the teacher and student, possibly affecting the student’s grade, and given attendance-driven academic consequences, students must continue to attend class and pay attention. Unfortunately, we students often discover our professors’ inclinations to preach politics after the drop-add period, and therefore we can’t do much about it.At JMI’s transparency event on August 28th, 2010 in Tampa, Andrew Breitbart, creator of biggovernment.com, bigjournalism.com, etc., half-joked about creating a “biguniversity.com,” and I sincerely hope this website becomes reality–exposing teachers who misuse their position as an educator for their own political purposes. Of all my favorite professors, I could not tell you one of their personal political or religious opinions.There are responsible and effective methods for teaching controversial issues, for example, in this interview David Horowitz eloquently discusses an appropriate method for tackling politics in the classroom. America’s universities need to address this issue because activist professors are a distraction from our education and a waste of our money.