Volume 94, Issue 60

Wednesday, January 10, 2001


Academic visit raises questions

Finally - York strike over

City will meet to discuss snow removal

UWO proves beer's healthiness

Women's centre forced to turn some away - Lack of funding keeps women's service at bare minimum


Planet Me

Academic visit raises questions

By Chris Lackner
Gazette Staff

Political correctness should be preparing for attack, if a controversial visiting professor has anything to say about it.

Tonight at King's College, former Bowling Green University professor Richard Zeller will be speaking on the controversies which surround political correctness in society.

Zeller said he began to realize the limitations placed upon academic thought in the mid-1990s, and developed a course dedicated to the free expression of alternative ideas.

Zeller said the course outline was created to analyze and critique conventional attitudes towards issues such as feminism, racial differences and affirmative action. "I don't want to prevent a women's studies professor from teaching feminism," he said. "I just think we should not only articulate an idea, but also critique it."

He said he was stone-walled by department heads and administration at the university in his attempts to have his course taught at the institution, and eventually retired early in protest.

"We need to provide a variety of perspectives and not indoctrinate one set of them," he said. "It is a university's charge to go against current political whims and the responsibility of faculty to challenge current political ideas."

Zeller was invited to speak by King's College psychology professor Heinz Klatt, who teaches a course on similar issues.

"There are big issues in our society today which we're not supposed to question," Klatt said, citing sexual and racial differences, homosexuality, welfare and violence against females as prime examples.

"[For example,] feminist propaganda tells us that sexual differences are irrelevant and insignificant," he noted, adding those who investigate such issues are often persecuted.

Klatt said professors and academics often feel threatened by the media, or their university administrations and therefore avoid researching or teaching issues which are deemed politically incorrect.

"At a university, we should have the freedom to challenge everything, question everything and say anything."

Feminist propaganda states that almost every women suffers from sexual harassment or violence during the course of their lives, Klatt noted. "This is just pure fantasy," he said. "This is incredulous. You have to look at the definition being used. This ranges from everything between rape, which is a criminal act, to condescension and attitude, or simply shunning somebody."

Matt Rae, an executive member of Western's Women's Issues Network, said opinions like Klatt and Zeller's are flawed. "We're not telling women they're under the fear of violence," he said. "They're telling us they're under the fear of violence."

Dianne Humphrey, chair of psychology at King's College, said she thought academic freedom is a necessity at institutions of higher learning.

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