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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Regents mull warnings for class content

    PHOENIX – A bill that died on the floor of the Senate almost two months ago became the topic of a passionate debate as the Arizona Board of Regents discussed whether to force universities to warn students in their syllabus about possible “”objectionable”” readings.

    Arizona Board of Regents lobbyist Michael Hunter said while the controversial bill was defeated, the discussion among select legislators continues and the bill may be re-introduced next year if regents do not adopt a policy on coursework some students may find objectionable.

    Regent Robert Bulla called the bill a serious issue and suggested that each university adopt a policy on syllabi to warn students about possible objectionable material.

    The UA already has policy in place that was adopted by the Faculty Senate in May 2005. The policy requires “”notification, if the instructor believes necessary, warning students that some course content may be deemed offensive by some students.””

    Provost George Davis, a professor in the department of geosciences, said the nature of what is in a syllabus has changed dramatically since he started teaching in 1970.

    “”I admit I’ve been around since the Pliocene,”” Davis joked, referring to a geologic timescale. “”This is not the syllabus I had when I was student, or an assistant professor or a adjunct professor. Only when I became a Regents Professor did I understand what a syllabus was all about.””

    Robert Mitchell, vice chair of the Faculty Senate, related the UA policy to “”truth in advertising,”” saying students deserve to know what to expect in a classroom, but he denied the policy infringes on the faculty’s academic freedom.

    Greg Fahey, the associate vice president for government relations, said he hoped the existing policy would satisfy board of regents requirements.

    Regent Ernest CalderÇün said college students need to be offended occasionally.

    “”To say we have to become the policemen of thought cuts against the purpose of higher education,”” CalderÇün said.

    The regents also approved on Friday a bachelor of science degree in elementary education, a master’s of education degree in secondary education and a master’s of science degree in educational technology for UA South.

    The title of Regents Professor, the highest title a professor can earn, was conferred on four UA professors.

    Recipients were Carol Barnes, a professor of psychology and neurology; Toni Massaro, dean of the James E. Rogers College of Law and a professor of law; Mary Koss, a professor of public health, psychology, psychiatry and family and community medicine and Mark Nichter, a professor of anthropology and public health.

    The board of regents also awarded President Peter Likins with the Regents’ Medal on Friday.

    The award was established in 1965 by the regents as a means of recognizing outstanding service to education in Arizona. It has only been awarded 11 times in the last 41 years.

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