In Defense of Bronson’s Article

Steve Fritsch Sophomore/Psychology February 1, 2003

After reading the viewpoints of students Nicholas Summe and Garda Ghista in the last two editions of The Northerner, I felt it necessary to defend Peter Bronson’s column on Dr. Clinton Hewan that appeared in the Cincinnati Enquirer on January 12. Also, as the student who contacted Mr. Bronson about Dr. Hewan’s questionable teaching practices, I believe my original argument has been misinterpreted and is in need of being properly defined. I respect both students opinions, but their editorials on Bronson’s column were flawed and missed the point. Though I knew that some students and faculty would strongly disagree with me, I felt this was the right thing to do and the matter needed to be addressed. I have taken two classes with Dr. Hewan (International Politics and U.S. Foreign Policy) and was successful in both. Therefore, I am not a disgruntled student, which I have been labeled. The reason that I decided to take action against Dr. Hewan is that his classes are not objective and not fair and balanced. Despite the claims of some students, it is very difficult to get around this fact. One must either not be paying close attention or is so far to the left that it doesn’t even become aware to them. U.S. foreign policy, as Dr. Hewan has stated in class, is very complex, and for him to teach the course with an ultra-liberal agenda does a disservice to students. This is not a personal attack on Dr. Hewan. To be fair, Dr. Hewan’s experiences with the diplomatic service offer some valuable information to students. He has the right to his opinions and does not deserve unfair treatment for having them. However, when Dr. Hewan is in the classroom, during class time, he has a responsibility to provide equal and accurate information on both sides of an issue to let the students decide for themselves what they feel is right. Unfortunately, Dr. Hewan does not do this. Very frequently in his classes, Dr. Hewan vehemently attacks U.S. foreign policy, capitalism, Republicans and conservative thought. If a student tries to defend any of these in class, Dr. Hewan will often ridicule them. Though I have been told this kind of behavior is allowed due to academic freedom, I am not convinced. With any freedom comes responsibility, and academic integrity is essential to being a good and fair teacher. Professors with political agendas, whether they are left-wing radicals or right-wing radicals, have no right to push that agenda on students and must be singled out and effectively dealt with. It could be, perhaps, that Dr. Hewan is just too passionate to teach these kinds of courses. Often you can hear the frustration and anger in his voice on certain topics and discussions. Though some may say that passion in a teacher is a positive quality, it becomes a negative if that passion forces one to be blind to opposing views. And I feel most would agree that emotion drowns out reason. I am, by far, not the only person on this campus who feels this way about Dr. Hewan’s classes. In fact, many of Dr. Hewan’s former students have thanked Mr. Bronson for doing the story and told him that they too wish they would have spoken up instead of letting Dr. Hewan “bully them.” I have also talked with other students and faculty members who supported what I was doing. However, despite problem professors like Dr. Hewan, I have found that the majority of teachers on this campus are good and fair at what they do. But it is necessary for students to take action, together or alone, when they feel a professor is performing below standard. This is our university, and unless people speak up when need be, things will go on as usual and others will be faced with our problems.