I attend a public university in Kentucky (USA). My professor has assigned an advocacy assignment that requires students to write three letters of support for a certain House bill that will soon be voted on (H.R. 592 / S. 109).
The professor has given us all a template where we get to "customize" one paragraph with our own supporting statement. The letters must have our name electronically and physically signed. This bill would alter our profession and most of our college is in support of it, including the professors
The letters must be positive and supporting of the bill. The letters must be turned in to the professor for proofreading, then will be sent by the professor to our home county/area representatives.
The template letter repetitively thanks the representative for sponsoring the bill and provides background info as to why the representative should vote in favor of it.
I have emailed the professor, the dean of academic affairs and the dean of the college. The dean of academic affairs responded with basically "not her issue". (Although our student handbook specifically states she's next in line after a professor with any concern.) The dean of the college has not responded. And the professor announced to our class that the assignment is still due tomorrow at noon. Later, I requested to meet with him but his requested meeting time is not until after the assignment is due.
I actually have a neutral stance on this bill. My concern is that a professor is using his position and course to force students to take his personal stance on a bill that will have a major change in healthcare, specifically pharmacy practice. My main concern is that even if the professor doesn't send my letters, he will all of my classmates that may not have expressed their concern. (That's 140 students with 3 letters each = 420 letters sent)
Can a professor do this? Is this legal? Or a violation of students' First amendment?
I turned in my assignment with the preamble edit as recommended by some and met with the professor at his request. His response was that I would receive full credit for my assignment, he was unaware of this issue previously, the other course director and himself have not looked into this issue, he is retiring in March, and he has no regard to continue the discussion besides our conversation in his office. He then proceeded to tell me his personal life stories and asked questions about my history (i.e. where are you from? What do your parents do? What do you want to do in life? etc.) There is no resolution at this point and he does not seem concerned. He has not edited the assignment (as my initial request to him was to make the assignment not part of his final course grade due to the circumstances of the assignment) and all other students were still required to do the assignment (3 endorsed letters, addressed, and stamped, in support of the particular bill) and turn them in to class teaching assistants to review and mail. I have also researched university policies on such matters and he is in violation of University policy as well as violating students' academic freedoms. I notified him of this during the meeting and he had no response other than "well you've done your research, I have not."
This professor is in his mid-70s, very traditional, and is retiring in March (2 months) as I stated previously. I believe he doesn't want to deal with this issue and has no desire to take the time to resolve it. Do I contact him again? The assignment still stands and has not been altered. Students were forced to endorse political activity of a Professor or be reprimanded by a failing grade.
What do I do now?