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Ensuring fairness in teaching

To the Editor:

I am appalled at Penn's permissive attitudes toward political activists who wrongly use their authority in the classroom to politically indoctrinate students. Although the concept of academic freedom allows professors to teach subjects of their own choosing in their own way, professors specifically sign a contractual code of ethics with the University, and are required to adhere to professional standards which specifically prohibit taking sides on controversial issues.

While each individual in a free society, including professors, have a political bias and a right to express their point of view, it is patently unprofessional, unacademic and against university policy to let such biases interfere with an academic analysis of controversial subjects. Unfortunately for students, Penn professors in Political Science, Sociology, History, English and other departments not only disregard these standards, and Penn's administration apparently no longer enforces its own policies. This was dramatically demonstrated at last week's Feb. 11 Teach-In on Penn's campus, organized by Penn professors. Entitled the War on Gaza, the Teach-In was a political rally that depicted Israel as the aggressor, the Palestinians as victims and Hamas as the democratically elected government of Gaza that deserves U.S. respect.

Although this conflict is fraught with controversy and passions on all sides, and a history that deserves recognition of an equal number of displaced Jewish refugees, these Penn professors asserted the time-tested Arab propaganda and disinformation that Israel is a ruthless occupier; that the Jewish Lobby controls the U.S. media; that Israel, with the refugee camps, is now the new Nazi regime. And all organized by the Penn English department's Amy Kaplan and Ania Loomba, and supported by Political Science Department's Ian Lustic and Anne Norton, and History's Eve Troutt-Powell.

It is high time that Penn restore integrity to its academic charter and dismiss professors who abuse their authority and abdicate their academic mission. Academic freedom for professors is made with the distinct agreement that politics, and not brains, will be checked at the door. Until professors have the same respect for the ability of their students to draw their own conclusions on controversial subjects, the result of their expensive investments at Penn will result in indoctrination, not education.

Craig Snider

The author is a Wharton MBA and College graduate

Supporting SLAP against HEI

To the Editor:

The Penn Student Labor Action Project (SLAP) is currently working to make sure that a company Penn does business with - HEI Hotels and Resorts - gives its workers a fair chance to organize a union to improve their working conditions. I would like to encourage the University community, students and faculty alike, to join the campaign and contact the administration to voice their support.

If we truly believe in social justice, the case of these hotel workers presents us with an opportunity - and a responsibility - to put our principles into practice. As a faculty member, I know that the lessons we seek to teach extend well beyond the boundaries of the classroom. So too does our responsibility to the community. Let's do the right thing and make sure we're investing in things we can truly be proud of. Fairness is surely one of them.

Eric Jarosinski

The author is a professor in the German Department

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