Political Agendas in the Classroom

By Bryan Wilhelm

"In my view, this is much better than complaining in the community (or only complaining there)."

This was the quote made to me by Doug Maynard, acting Chair for the IU Department of Sociology. It was in response to my concerns about a particular professor disrespecting students and force-feeding her leftist political agendas. I found it rather interesting that Dr. Maynard felt so strongly about my not bringing the issue to the public. Actually, if indeed Dr. Maynard had not made this comment, I probably would not have brought forth the issue. But, I thought being force-fed political agendas by the Indiana University faculty would make an interesting article. So, enjoy.

Last semester I spent 15 weeks sitting in a classroom bombarded with leftist agendas. It isn't anything new if you have been at IU for any length of time. But, this particular class bothered me more so than any other class I had taken in the past. The reason it so bothered me was because of the absolute refusal to present the "other side" of issues we were studying in class, and because of the professor's utter disrespect for students challenging her views.

I normally enter classrooms, in the beginning of each semester, eager to learn something new. Most students probably have similar feelings. As I entered a sociology class taught by Dr. Donna Eder, I expected to have the same feelings about learning as I had always had. Instead, what I received for 15 weeks was pure disrespect from a left-wing feminist actively spewing forth her political agendas.

The first day of class (after reading and reviewing study materials for the course), I asked Professor Eder if she could present to the class, "other sides." I mentioned that it seemed as if the material was very biased and that it didn't present a fair and balanced study. She explained that it was indeed biased and that she felt as if that was what we needed to learn. I was told that I was "free" to bring in my own materials but she would not present them in her normal classroom discussion, implying that the "other side" was not worth the time to present. In all actuality, it was because the "other side" would undermine her political agenda that she felt compelled to force upon the students.

I have no problem with reviewing and studying various issues and topics in a course. This is why most of us came to Indiana University. But, I do have a problem with a political agenda being forced down my throat instead of a genuine concern for the educational well-being of students. If a conservative professor taught his/her course with the same types of biased information, that professor would be under great scrutiny by both the administration and the student body. But, when a feminist pushing agendas on students is noticed, the collective heads (and "acting Chairs") of the University look the other way.

The majority of this particular sociology class happened to be female. Being a male (particularly a straight, white, Roman Catholic, anti-abortion, Republican) made it all the more difficult to enter classroom debates that focused exclusively on touchy issues. Among them ebonics, racism, homosexuality and "heterosexism", feminism, radical educational system reform, male dominance, etc. You can probably guess where I stand on most of these issues. The stand I took earned disrespect, and in the end, a grade for which I believe unjust, simply because my personal beliefs did not coincide with Dr. Eder's political agenda.

As far as the disrespect, I only wish I had time to list all of the occurrences here. But, unfortunately there are only 24 hours in a day. This does not present ample time to do so. But, perhaps I could list a few:

  1. a comment about men and their aggregate disrespect for women;
  2. literally causing a female student to cry by leading an attack on the comment made by the student;
  3. "shooting down" opinions or comments not coinciding with Dr. Eder's agenda;
  4. saying that we cannot necessarily look to religion, or use religion as an "excuse," when trying to solve problems in society we have dropped other aspects of religion and may need to drop more to rectify certain problems;
  5. requiring students, on an exam, to list ways in which to fight "homophobia" and "heterosexism," and to list ways and means in which to support the gay community.

Again, the list could go on and on. But, the purpose of this article is not to focus on this particular class (although, it is a fantastic example). Rather, it is to focus on the University allowing politics to enter the classroom without fair and balanced representation. It's to question the University's focus on "diversity" that it so loudly emphasizes in its marketing strategies. To whom does this "diversity" apply? I think the administration, and the departments within the University, have made it extremely clear to whom its "diversity" does NOT apply.

Personal political agendas do not need to be played out in the classroom. It is not the proper place to force-feed political interests upon unsuspecting students, nor is it proper to deny students a fair representation of the issues at hand. Politics are to be played in open-forum, and at the ballot box. The University should not tolerate agendas in place of education. Any professor, asst. professor, A.I., etc., caught placing personal agendas ahead of education should be immediately reprimanded. But, as Dr. Maynard has shown, the University will simply look the other direction.

Eric Seymour

Robert Schiener

Bryan Wilhelm

Bryant Lewis
Joel Corbin