AccessMyLibrary provides FREE access to millions of articles from top publications available through your library.
We reacted with general distress to the recent Policy Studies Review symposium on "Democracy and the Academy" (Winter 1998). While many of the articles are scholarly and provide important findings, and the topic of the symposium is vital, several articles cross the line from academic treatments of issues of academic freedom to personal polemics. As such they do not have a place within a forum which is designed to disseminate careful scholarly research. While the Weissberg articles on academic tyranny and a "tale" of academic tyranny are interesting and well-written, they have no real scholarly merit. And, because of their basic nature it is impossible to respond to them in scholarly terms. The article on sexual harassment by Professor Thomas Dye raises a different sort of concern.
Dye's article "Preventing Sexual Harassment and Preserving Academic Freedom," is distressing from an academic standpoint. There is much to commend in his impassioned appeal to establish reasonable sexual harassment policies and procedures. We have no quarrel with his assertion that care should be taken in defining sexual harassment, in establishing procedures which provide fairness and due process, and in taking great care not to confuse academic discourse (or even an occasional distasteful or thoughtless remark) with either pervasive or severe behavior which would constitute a hostile environment under the definitions the Supreme Court has set forth.
However, much of the article ignores pertinent scholarly research on sexual harassment policy, makes arguments unsupported by empirical data, and thus represents more of a personal polemic than a scholarly contribution to the debate about sexual harassment and/or academic freedom. Thus, while it may be entirely appropriate for featured commentary it is out of place in an academic journal--particularly since there is a great deal of very good relevant scholarly literature on this topic.