OSU to Faculty: “No Classroom Electioneering”

Aug 31, 2012 |  Peter Wood

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OSU to Faculty: “No Classroom Electioneering”

Aug 31, 2012 | 

Peter Wood

That didn’t take long.

Yesterday (August 30) Joseph Alutto, the executive vice president and provost at Ohio State University, issued a message to the whole OSU faculty yesterday saying that the University "must make absolutely certain that Ohio State does not engage in partisan political activities.  This includes inviting political organizers into our classrooms."  

Provost Alutto’s message came in response to an article I published the day before in The Chronicle of Higher Education calling attention to the efforts of an OSU English professor to persuade his faculty colleagues to open their classrooms to Obama campaign organizers. 

Here is the text of Provost Alutto’s message to the OSU faculty:

Dear Colleagues:

Yesterday President Gee received an email regarding an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education. The article indicated that an Ohio State faculty member had contacted other university faculty asking that they open their classrooms to organizers from a specific political party.

University legal counsel has determined that we must make absolutely certain that Ohio State does not engage in partisan political activities. This includes inviting political organizers into our classrooms. Simply put, partisan political discussions may not be sponsored by university employees on the Ohio State campus. I urge you to refer to the guidelines regarding political activity by employees of the university. These are posted at http://legal.osu.edu/politicalactivity.php.

The prelude to a national election is an important and exciting time. As we move into this period, I ask you to join me in ensuring that Ohio State will be seen as a base for impartial discourse.


Joseph A. Alutto
Executive Vice President and Provost

The Ohio State University

Kudos to President Gee for acting so quickly.  This is an important victory in the fight to reclaim the university from those who view higher education as just another avenue for promoting their political views.  I am proud that the National Association of Scholars played the lead role in bringing the problem to light. 

There is surely more to be done, not only at Ohio State but at many other colleges and universities where the 2012 presidential race has tempted faculty members to misuse their classrooms for partisan purposes.  NAS is reaching out to students and faculty members across the country to ask for their assistance in identifying other cases of abuse like this.  We will post a public log of the universities, courses, and professors, along with other pertinent data. I welcome reports of abuses by Republicans as well as Democrats or members of other parties.

My thanks to the members of our affiliate, the Ohio Association of Scholars, and its president (and member of the NAS board of directors) George Dent for bringing this matter forward.  They recognized its importance straight away, made sure of the facts, and offered very good counsel on how to proceed.   


| September 01, 2012 - 9:04 AM

It is an important victory. Well done. Perhaps the California system can be brpought around in a similar manner.

Sylvia Wasson

| September 03, 2012 - 6:52 PM

Kudos indeed to OSU’s president Gee for his prompt directive to the university’s faculty. Since using the classroom for partisan politics during the run-up to a national election is widespread, I believe Peter Wood’s idea of establishing a public log of institutions and professors who engage in such abuses to be an excellent idea. I suggest mass reporting of this sort of violation.

Scott M

| September 04, 2012 - 10:34 AM

Kudos indeed, though in a normal world it would be viewed as merely competence and that’s the more disturbing aspect of the story.  What sort of person thinks it’s a good idea to invite biased political operatives in front of captive audiences?


| September 04, 2012 - 10:54 AM

Well, I feel empowered now.  Assuming we take the wording as absolute, the sentence “Yesterday President Gee received an email regarding an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education.” would be referencing the e-mail I sent President Gee regarding the issue and providing him a link to the article.

Stand up and be heard, it works.  smile

Ross Newton

| September 04, 2012 - 11:01 AM

I would like to think I had something to do with this. On Aug. 29 I sent an email to Jan Neiger at the OSU legal affairs office after reading the post in Chronicles of Higher Education. I alos copied a couple of local (Cincinnati) conservative talk show hosts (Bill Cunningham in particular) and, being a resident of Ohio, my state representative. I cited the article in my email and the political activity page linked to in Mr. Alutto’s message.

Thanks for publishing the info in Chrinicles of Higher Education.


| September 04, 2012 - 11:21 AM

Great news! Now if we can purge the leftist propaganda from many of the textbooks I’ve encountered.

Ron Coleman

| September 04, 2012 - 11:44 AM

It’s unfortunate that Alutto dodged the broader issue of the propriety of this practice by pinning it on a determination by legal counsel.  The suggestion is that if it were legal, of course the conduct referred to would not be a problem.


| September 04, 2012 - 12:40 PM

Notice that Mr. Alutto is concerned with BEING SEEN as being impartial, not necessarily truly BEING impartial.


| September 04, 2012 - 1:25 PM

I’ll believe it when I see it.  My son is currently majoring in a “hard science” at OSU.  One would think that professors would have a more difficult time injecting politics into an orgainic chemistry or other hard science class but unfortunately that just isn’t so.  My son tells us how students are continually bombarded liberal/democratic/MSNBC talking points.  That is not what I am paying for but that is what we get.

Mike C

| September 04, 2012 - 2:52 PM

I’d like to think that this is the way of the future, but unfortunately, I’m afraid it’s simple bureaucratic CYA which is applicable only in this one specific election cycle.

Apologies to the Meteorology department, but, in 2012, it doesn’t take a weatherman to see which way the wind is blowing.

Larry Ice

| September 04, 2012 - 4:08 PM

Kudos my ass.  I will applaud Gee for his action, the situation demanded it.

But as an alumni I’ve also sick and tired of seeing Gee stand up as a cheerleader for this administration.  He’s appeared more than once with the ‘one’, and I don’t think we have to look any further to find the source of that English professor’s inspiration.

The university’s slow tilt to the left over the last few decades has made me sick.


| September 04, 2012 - 6:21 PM

it should have been obvious to the professor that his partisan request was improper and unethical.  with clear documentation of his violation of university guidelines, he should be suspended without pay for the fall term.  this should give him the time he desires to assist his candidate.


| September 04, 2012 - 6:23 PM

You can’t keep political advocates out of classrooms: they are referred to as professors.