Thursday, December 31, 2009

History question: who argued that college Poli Sci professors should teach the Board’s political views? Guess!


Orange Union High, 1920. Now: Chapman U

During my historical internet wanderings this morning, I came across an odd claim somebody made about Tom "bagman" Fuentes, one of the SOCCCD's arch-conservative trustees. It was something about Tom's view regarding what college Poli Sci instructors should teach, expressed back in 1993.

I did some Googling and quickly found what I was looking for. The info I needed was in a small piece,  appearing just days before the disastrous 2000 election, by our old pal Matt Coker of the OC Weekly: Ralph crammed in (11/02/00).

Nearly four months after Holocaust denier Steve Frogue’s resignation from the SOCCCD board of trustees and then-OC GOP chair Tom Fuentes’ highly hinky appointment as replacement (by our all-Republican board), the infamous Bush/Gore Presidential race was in full swing.

You’ll recall that, unfortunately, famed consumer advocate Ralph Nader was in that race, drawing progressive votes from Mr. Gore. At the time, many (not me) worried that Nader would insure a Bush victory. Well, as you know, that’s just what happened.

In late October of 2000, somehow, the local Green Party managed to hold a rally for Ralphy Boy at Chapman U’s Memorial Hall (Oct. 20). In his report, Matt explained all that and then turned his attention to an incident involving Fuentes:
Chapman political-science department chairman Fred Smoller was instrumental in bringing Nader to the Orange campus. But before the rally, he talked to us about Tom Fuentes, grand wizard of the Orange County Republican Party. Fuentes was recently appointed to fill an unexpired term on the South Orange County Community College District board of trustees, which oversees Saddleback and Irvine Valley colleges.

Fuentes' campaign for a full term on the board alarms Smoller, who recalled a bizarre phone call he got seven years ago in which the GOP henchman and Chapman alum apparently said that political-science professors should teach the views of their college's board of trustees—Chapman's board is composed mostly of conservatives. While Fuentes was "soundly rebuffed by the [university's] provost," Smoller is frightened that Fuentes may wind up foisting his "anti-academic" perspective on academics.

Fuentes could not be reached for comment, but Mark Petracca, UC Irvine's political-science department chairman, said it's common for professors to teach from the perspective of their college's governing board—at "small, liberal-arts, Christian schools where the value we generally place on academic freedom is not so well-respected. But at any major-league university, that kind of censorship would not be tolerated. It'd just be ridiculous."

How about at public colleges? Petracca burst into laughter before saying, "It's easy to imagine groups of government bodies—boards of trustees, regents or the state legislature—getting upset at someone for something she says, something she writes, or something she teaches. But no one tries to do anything about it. And I'm fairly certain if somebody tried, the reaction would be pretty severe." ….
I missed that one. But Wow. (Petracca is [or at least was!] a big fan of this blog.)

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