H. B. 2884

(By Delegates Overington, Lane, Duke, Andes,
Barker, Canterbury, Cowles, Miley, J. Miller

and Rowan)

[Introduced January 9, 2008; referred to the
Committee on Education then the Judiciary.]

A BILL to amend the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, by adding thereto a new section, designated §18B-7-13, relating to protecting academic freedom in higher education.

Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be amended by adding thereto a new section, designated §18B-7-13, to read as follows:

§18B-7-13. Intellectual independence and diversity protected.
The state recognizes the importance of protecting academic freedom of personnel and students in its institutions of higher education. To secure intellectual independence for faculty and students, and to protect intellectual diversity, state institutions of higher education shall observe the following principles and procedures:
(1) All faculty must be hired, fired, promoted and granted tenure on the basis of their competence and appropriate knowledge in the field of their expertise and, in the humanities, the social sciences, and the arts, with a view toward fostering a plurality of methodologies and perspectives. No faculty may be hired or fired or denied promotion or tenure solely on the basis of his or her political or religious beliefs.
(2) All tenure, search and hiring committee deliberations must be recorded and made available to appropriately constituted authorities empowered to inquire into the integrity of the process. The names of committee members may be redacted from the record. No faculty member may be excluded from tenure, search and hiring committees on the basis of his or her political or religious beliefs.
(3) Students must be graded solely on the basis of their reasoned answers and appropriate knowledge of the subjects and disciplines they study. Students may not be graded on the basis of their political or religious beliefs.
(4) Curricula and reading lists in the humanities and social sciences must respect the uncertainty and unsettled character of all human knowledge in these areas and provide students with dissenting sources and viewpoints. While teachers are and should be free to pursue their own findings and perspectives in presenting their views, they must consider and make their students aware of other viewpoints. Academic disciplines must welcome a diversity of approaches to unsettled questions.
(5) Exposing students to the spectrum of significant scholarly viewpoints on the subjects examined in their courses is a major responsibility of faculty. Faculty may not use their courses for the purpose of political, ideological, religious or anti-religious indoctrination.
(6) The principles of academic freedom and the promotion of intellectual pluralism must be observed in the selection of speakers, allocation of funds for speakers programs and other student activities.
(7) The obstruction of invited campus speakers, destruction of campus literature or other effort to obstruct the civil exchange of ideas may not be tolerated.
(8) Because knowledge advances when scholars are free to reach their own conclusions about which methods, facts and theories have been validated by research, academic institutions shall maintain a posture of organizational neutrality with respect to the substantive disagreements that divide researchers on questions within, or outside, their fields of inquiry.

NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to promote intellectual diversity and academic freedom in institutions of higher education. It protects faculty and students from discrimination resulting from political or religious beliefs.

This section is new; therefore, strike-throughs and underscoring have been omitted.