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An Undergraduate Student Writes: Ball State University Student Body President Speaks Out, but Is the University Listening?

The dual academic freedom controversy centered on Ball State University, and scientists Eric Hedin and Guillermo Gonzalez, has picked up media coverage around the country. But there's been hardly any attention paid to the views of Dr. Hedin's and Dr. Gonzalez's primary audience, namely their present and future students. What do students think about the peril involved in being taught by a scholar with possible latent sympathies for intelligent design?

After all, as John West points out, Dr. Hedin dared to include pro-ID (and anti-ID) books on a "Partial Bibliography" for his honors seminar, "Boundaries of Science," and even though there's no evidence we're aware of that he recommended much less required that students read those books, he did make the information available. And according to Jerry Coyne, that in itself is a violation of the First Amendment.

But Ball State's student body president Malachi W. Randolph contributed his own comments to the Muncie, IN, Star Press:

Over the past few months, it seems select individuals have become upset over issues related to religion being brought into the science classroom at Ball State University. As the Ball State student body president, I do not speak on behalf of my organization or my school. But I am a student. And, believe it or not, our opinions matter, too.

I could say that I know many students who took Professor Hedin's classes and loved them. I could say that every student comment I've heard has been in support for Professor Hedin. I could even say that we're old enough to decide what we want to believe when controversial topics are brought up fairly in the classroom. And while all these things are true, they don't address the issue.

The university setting has historically been fertile ground for ideas. Many major American research universities were actually religiously-based. But it was their open minds and embrace (instead of fear) for outside perspectives that have allowed effective research to occur ... and minds to change. (Don't make me use the "flat earth" example!)

Our university administration understands that, in order for education to be effective, there must be tolerance for ideas outside our own. That's why our Honors College offers unique classes on such topics as the Holocaust, Islam, and (ironically) Controversial Issues in Education.

Thank goodness our school isn't as narrow-minded as Dr. Jerry Coyne!

That is one level-headed undergraduate student.