Behavior Guidelines at Fresno State
When the Fresno Bee reported on this subject in its Dec. 28, 2018, issue, I felt like I was in a time warp and the campus was heading into an academician’s nightmare as some of us professors did in 1968. It was a terrible way to be acknowledging the 50th anniversary of the firing of a poet, Robert Mezey, who was a professor in the English Department, by the president of Fresno State, because he exercised his constitutional right to free speech.
Unfortunately, some of the faculty and many in the Fresno community thought this was a proper use of presidential authority. Prior to 1968, educational decisions were made by both the faculty and the administration under a document called “Consultative Procedures,” which were approved by both.
The same subject appears again in the Bee with a lengthy opinion by Dr. Lars Maischak, a lecturer in history at Fresno State assigned to online classes. Dr. Maischak correctly has harsh words for the entire concept of Behavior Guidelines, which is a smokescreen for preventing academicians from exercising their professional commitment to “free inquiry” and to “free expression of ideas.” These prerogatives are encouraged by the U.S. Constitution and are emphasized in the principles of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP).
Academic freedom and academic due process are cornerstones of all educational institutions. Citizens of a democracy must safeguard these values of knowledge and virtue; it offers a progressive and nonviolent path to the improvement to the Constitution, to justice and to human dignity. In part, Mezey offered the opinion at a public “Seminar on Pot” that bad laws should not be obeyed. In present-day America, many of the marijuana laws have been changed and sales of the plant have increased rapidly.
Dr. Alex Vavoulis