Intellectual Diversity in Higher Education Act Exposed

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The Intellectual Diversity in Higher Education Act was approved by ALEC's Education Task Force at the Annual Meeting on July 21, 2006, approved by the ALEC Board of Directors in August, 2006. ALEC has attempted to distance itself from this piece of legislation after the launch of in 2011, but it has done nothing to get it repealed in the states where it previously pushed for it to be made into law.

CMD's Bill Summary

This "model' bill attempts to require "intellectual diversity" to protect against the imposition of any political, ideological, or religious orthodoxy. These protects are framed neutrally, but they emerge in the context of continuing critique from the right-wing that universities are too "liberal" or hostile to religious, "conservative", or religiously fundamentalist points of view. Notably, the bill exempts private colleges from these legal obligations. It also seeks to impose a requirement that professors be evaluated based on "intellectual diversity" and is condemnatory towards protests of speakers expressing disfavored views, which might have the effect of obstructing such speakers. It also may have the effect of establishing a kind of affirmative action toward including fundamentalist or right-wing academics on campus in order to satisfy the dictates of required intellectual diversity. It also empowers an ombudsperson to help enforce the mandate of intellectual diversity.

ALEC Bill Text


Each public institution of higher education must annually report to the Legislature detailing the steps the institution is taking to ensure intellectual diversity and the free exchange of ideas.

Model Legislation

Section 1. {Short title}

This act shall be known and may be cited as the "Intellectual Diversity in Higher Education Act."

Section 2. {Legislative declaration}

Be it enacted by the legislature of the state of [ ] :

RECOGNIZING, intellectual diversity is the foundation of a learning environment that exposes students to a variety of political, ideological, and other perspectives; and
RECOGNIZING, colleges and universities should welcome intellectual diversity and the free ex change of ideas as values indispensable to a liberal education, teaching and program development; and
RECOGNIZING, teachers should not take unfair advantage of the immaturity of students by indoctrinating them with their own opinions before the students have had an opportunity to examine other opinions; and
RECOGNIZING, academic decisions, including grades, should be based solely on considerations that are intellectually relevant to the subject matter under consideration; and
RECOGNIZING, members of the campus community who believe they have been treated unfairly on academic matters must have access to a clear institutional process by which grievances can be addressed; and
RECOGNIZING, political and ideological bias in hiring, promotion, and tenure is unacceptable; and
RECOGNIZING, intellectual diversity must be achieved in ways that protect such values as academic freedom, shared governance, and academic standards; and
RECOGNIZING, faculty, administrators, and the [Board of Regents, trustees, etc.] should take the initiative in meeting the challenge of intellectual diversity; and
RECOGNIZING, there is a high degree of consensus on the principles set forth in a statement entitled, “Academic Rights and Responsibilities,” that was issued by the American Council on Education on behalf of thirty higher education organizations; and
RECOGNIZING, surveys revealing ideological imbalance in the classroom, evidence of politicization,and public concern over this issue continue to mount; and
RECOGNIZING, it is the responsibility of governing boards to ensure that institutional policies and procedures promote, for all students and faculty, an open atmosphere in which a range of viewpoints can be freely expressed.

Section 3. {Definitions}

As used in this act, unless the context otherwise requires:

(A) “intellectual diversity” is defined as the foundation of a learning environment that exposes students to a variety of political, ideological, and other perspectives.

Section 4. {Higher education intellectual diversity report}

The [Board of Trustees, Regents, state coordinating council] shall require each institution under its control to annually report to the Legislature detailing the steps the institution is taking to ensure intellectual diversity and the free exchange of ideas.

(A) The report required in this Act shall address the specific measures taken by the institution to ensure and promote intellectual diversity and academic freedom. The report may, but is not required to include, any steps taken by the institution to:

(1) Conduct a study to assess the current state of intellectual diversity on its campus;
(2) Incorporate intellectual diversity into institutional statements, grievance procedures, and activities on diversity;
(3) Encourage a balanced variety of campus-wide panels and speakers and annually publish the names of panelists and speakers;
(4) Establish clear campus policies that ensure that hecklers or threats of violence do not prevent speakers from speaking;
(5) Include intellectual diversity concerns in the institution’s guidelines on teaching and program development;
(6) Include intellectual diversity issues in student course evaluations;
(7) Develop hiring, tenure, and promotion policies that protect individuals against political viewpoint discrimination and track any reported grievances in that regard;
(8) Establish clear campus policies to ensure freedom of the press for students and report any incidents of student newspaper thefts or destruction;
(9) Establish clear campus policies to prohibit political bias in the distribution of student fee funds;
(10) Eliminate any speech codes that restrict the freedom of speech; or
(11) Create an institutional ombudsman on intellectual diversity.

(B) The report shall be distributed to the members of the [insert state] Legislature no later than December 31 of each year.

(C) The report shall be posted on the higher education institution’s web site.

Section 5. {Repealer clause.}

Section 6. {Effective date.}

Adopted by the Education Task Force at the Annual Meeting, July 21, 2006.

Approved by the ALEC Board of Directors August, 2006.