Conservative students at an Ivy League school say they are under fire from faculty members, including one professor who students say singles out Republicans by asking students to state their party affiliation.
Notes from University of Pennsylvania's student government meetings, posted online, show students have expressed growing concern about what they consider a hostile climate for Republicans. Jennifer Knesbach, vice president of the school's College Republicans, told Foxnews.com 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.” Fetni denied the claim.
“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.”
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.” But student government nixed the idea.
“To create a student metric about how open [teachers] were to other views” is “not currently being pursued,” student Eric Tepper, academic affairs director for the Undergraduate Assembly told The College Fix.
Free speech advocate Foundation for Individual Rights in Education backed Tepper's position, saying that universities with “bias reporting systems” can create a “chilling effect” on student expression and professors’ abilities to speak freely in classrooms.
Bibas told Foxnews.com “nobody has quashed anything,” and Knesbach said a solution for beleaguered Republican students is still being sought.
Kyle Rothenberg is a graduate of the Junior Reporter program at Fox News. Follow him on Twitter: @kylerothenberg