Student Complains of ‘Bias in the Classroom’

Editor’s note: The letter writer declined to name the professors she refers to in this letter. El Vaquero welcomes letters from the campus community, however the opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editor or staff.

Redefining “Global Perspective” [the late U.S. Senator] Adlai E. Stevenson Jr. once said, “[My definition of] a free society is one where it is safe to be unpopular.”

There has been a moment in everyone’s life where they have been unpopular. My first day of high school when I thought that it would be cool to wear the red plaid pants with the bright orange shirt was mine. Not one of my better moments, but not my last either.

I am one of many college students across the country who continues to be unpopular in their classroom because I speak my opinion.
As with most colleges, Glendale Community College tends to lean politically towards the left. Most professors also tend to be liberal; consequently, classes tend to be taught with a liberal bias. However it is not about being conservative or liberal. This is about professors teaching from a biased standpoint and not giving their students the whole story. It is not fair to the students when a professor only gives one side of an argument.

My professor who stood up and said that President Bush’s tax cuts only benefit the rich discredits studies done. The Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) did a study where they outline some of the myths of his tax cuts. The “rich” category is actually comprised primarily of small businesses. It is true that those in the highest tax bracket get more back, it is also true that they pay more in taxes.

Saying that only the rich benefit from the tax cuts implies no one else does. The trickle down effects of giving small businesses more money are too numerous to be written; however, it does include job growth, business expansion, ability to save, more money back into the economy, etc. Of course, none of this is mentioned to students, but rather the unsupported opinions dominate the classroom. In the end this hurts students more than it helps them because it is not giving them all the information they need to form an educated opinion.

Every classroom, from history to science to art classes can somehow incorporate current political issues, most of the time not pertaining to the coursework. Course descriptions and objectives that are given to students at the beginning of class, do not address these issues. Nowhere in any of my course descriptions does it say discussing the American flag as an oppressive symbol, or how communism is an effective form of government. Yet this is what is being taught in a class at GCC.

There is a huge discrepancy between what is written on syllabi and what is actually taught. Why is this allowed? Why do we as students find this acceptable, and do nothing about it?

In a recent class of mine, my professor argued that she was not pushing her political agenda, but rather giving us a “global perspective.” There is a difference between teaching students about the past and tying in modern day events and talking about their own opinions, especially when the professor could not back up her opinions with facts. Furthermore, how could I possibly have a “global perspective” when I was only given one side of the story?

Professors need to teach information that relates to their course work and not abuse their powers. The answer to this problem is simple. There needs to be a person in the administration that students can go to in order to lodge complaints about their professors or what is going on in their classroom. This is not someone to complain to, but rather someone who can take action. This person needs to be known and available to the students.

Simply handing out student surveys at the end of the semester solves nothing. In this case I don’t just mean on this single issue but any problem a student is having with a class or professor.

For example, last spring in my science class the professor allowed students to talk during the tests. It was a huge distraction ,not to mention it allowed the students to share answers. The students who did not like it did not have anyone to go to and have it taken care of. Rather we had to wait until the teacher evaluations at the end of the semester.

A problem that occurs during a semester cannot be solved at the end of the semester. Also just informing someone about the problem does not solve it. This was an issue that needed to be dealt with immediately, but the students did not have a way to bring the issue forward. I encourage the administration to make a greater effort in informing students of what they can do and what the policies of the school are.

We as students need to know what we can do and where and who we can turn for help. It is unacceptable for professors to use their classroom for their own personal views. This isn’t just an argument for the minority conservatives in the classroom, but rather every student who wants a moderate presentation of course work. Only in knowing both sides of the issue can students really have a “global perspective.”