A broad understanding of academic freedom includes recognition not only of the rights of teachers but also of the rights of students. First and foremost among these is the right of access to a representative segment of the available field of knowledge, including specifically the right to hear more than one side of controversial issues. This right concerns primarily the structured and classroom aspects of the learning process, and calls for encouragement of the widest possible range of inquiry.
Involved also is the right of access to the widest possible range of available subject matter in documentary and other forms. This objective can scarcely be served by reserve shelves or reading lists that ignore significant segments of the pertinent literature.
Again, the student has a right to find, particularly in verbal instruction, coherent patterns of class work. He deserves protection against unreasonable exposure to the favorite dislikes of his professors, and against the systematic erection and destruction of straw men.
A further right of the student is that of unimpeded access to the buildings and other resources of the college or university. This raises the important question of the right of a minority of students to “liberate” a building, imprison visitors to the campus, or confine its administrative officials. And it raises also the larger question of where the ownership of a university rests. There is a growing opinion among students of the Left that when an enrollee joins an academic community and pays his tuition (which probably covers at most one-fourth to one-third of the costs involved in his education), he thereby becomes a part-owner of the institution. In this view, the student body, by pooling the part-interests ...1
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