GOP proposes bill in Arizona allowing college students to appeal grades influenced by political bias

An Arizona state senator from the Republican party is proposing a new avenue for students in the state’s public universities to contest grades they suspect were influenced by professors’ political biases.

Senator Anthony Kern of Glendale, who has been critical of public universities in the past, is targeting the Arizona Board of Regents and the three public universities under their jurisdiction, citing discrimination against conservative students and speakers.

The Board of Regents oversees the University of Arizona, Arizona State University, and Northern Arizona University.

Senator Kern’s Senate Bill 1477 seeks to establish a “grade challenge department” within the Board of Regents at all three universities to review claims from students regarding politically biased grading.

These departments would be operated by volunteers selected by the Board of Regents.

If a department finds political bias affecting a student’s grade, the professor could be required to reassess the grade in accordance with the department’s ruling.

Students dissatisfied with the ruling could appeal to the ABOR, although the legislation does not mandate that the regents consider these appeals.

Kern stated that the bill aims to help students feel more at ease expressing their views without fear of grade repercussions.

The bill, approved by a 16-12 vote in the Senate, was backed only by Republicans.

Kern highlighted existing grade challenge processes within ABOR but criticized their effectiveness, questioning the necessity of the Board of Regents altogether.

He believes the legislation will empower students to engage freely on various topics.

During a House Education Committee session, a Board of Regents lobbyist, Thomas Adkins, raised concerns about the bill.

Adkins echoed Kern’s sentiments, noting the presence of grade appeal and academic grievance procedures within the universities.

This legislation could strain the regents financially and operationally by necessitating new department offices.

Kern previously led a legislative inquiry into free speech on state campuses following a controversial incident at ASU last summer.

Claims of conservative suppression on campus were proven unfounded by an investigation.

However, some students expressed feeling silenced on campus, according to Representative Rachel Jones.

Adkins acknowledged shared concerns but advocated for refining existing processes to address grade disputes.

The bill moved out of the House Education Committee with a 4-3 vote and will proceed to the full House for further deliberation.

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