The requirement outraged so many students and their families that the assignment soon became a topic of debate for local news, drawing the attention and concern of administrators at the university. (Photo : REUTERS)
A West Virginia political science professor stirred up controversy recently when she made an unusual request for her students' research options for an assignment: No Fox News.
Stephanie Wolfe, an adjunct professor at West Liberty University, gave her a class assignment to keep a "politics journal," asking them to keep track of their reactions to a variety of articles they were free to choose. On a document Wolfe handed to students to explain which sources could and couldn't be used, the professor barred anyone in her class from using Fox News as a source because she said the network "made [her] cringe."
"DO NOT use
1) The Onion - this is not news this is literally a parody.
2) Fox News - The tagline "Fox News" makes me cringe. Please do not subject me to this biased news station. I would almost rather you print off an article from the Onion," Wolfe wrote, Yahoo News reported.
The requirement outraged so many students and their families that Wolfe's assignment soon became a topic of debate for local news, drawing the attention and concern of administrators at the university, Inside Higher Ed reported.
"One of our values at West Liberty is to encourage students to go out and inquire and gather information and look at as many different sources as possible on any side, before you reach your opinion," said president of West Liberty University Robin Capehart.
Wolfe has since realized she made a mistake asking her students to totally avoid using Fox News as a source for the assignment, and has told students they can now quote the network as a source.
Capeheart continued to play damage control, espousing the university's fair and balanced values that encourage students to "conduct research and come to their own conclusions and be challenged." He claimed that banning students from using Fox News as a source "dampened inquiry," and said he would feel the same way if Wolfe had told students not to quote MSNBC.
"Isn't the idea that you use what sources you can and then you have to defend the facts?" he asked. "To me that's what college is all about -- being able to conduct your research and conduct your own conclusions, and the professor needs to be able to challenge it."
What do you think? Did Wolfe or the university over step their bounds?