Last week, NAS President Peter Wood, in this article for the CHE, described some pretty straightforward classroom political huckstering on behalf of the Obama campaign by an Ohio State University English professor. Beyond simply encouraging students to vote, he urged colleagues on a long listserve to consider bringing the president’s local political boosters into classrooms – presumably during time normally used for instruction.
On Thursday, on advice of OSU’s legal counsel, VP and University provost Joseph Alutto issued a memo indicating that such obvious partisan activity in a public institution was out of bounds, and emphasized the obligation by all employees to ensure that the university serve as a “base of impartial discourse.” We reported the details here on Friday.
On the same day, the Friday edition of the OSU Lantern, the regular student newspaper, also carried a story about the initial email sent by English professor Brian McHale and the administration’s response. The Lantern’s reporter references, but doesn’t link to the CHE article, or mention NAS. The students quoted in the piece seem to blow the whole thing off: what's the big deal, anyway?
It’s unlikely, to say the least, that invitations similar to McHale’s would be tendered – either at OSU or elsewhere - to GOP political operatives, as certainly they shouldn’t be. But just speculate for a moment about the probable reaction of those on the prof’s listserve, if they had received a similar call to invite Mitt Romney’s people into their classrooms.
Probably a bit different than this time, eh?