Pepperdine University Refuses to Approve Student's Internship With Drug Policy Reform Group


Pepperdine University's Statement of Academic Freedom states that "a faculty member should consider it a basic duty to encourage freedom of inquiry in peers and in students." If that's truly the case, the school has some explaining to do as to why it denied a political science major the opportunity to intern with the Marijuana Policy Project. 

According to MPP: 

Last week, the deans of Seaver College internship program at Pepperdine University officially refused to approve the application of sophomore political science major Victoria Stanzione to intern at the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), a national non-profit organization dedicated to reforming marijuana laws. Associate Dean Michael Feltner said "the internship is not aligned with the mission and purpose of Pepperdine University and I cannot approve the internship for academic credit."

Feltner is a professor of sports medicine, according to Pepperdine's website. I've reached out to him for comment, as well as the university's PR office, and will update when I hear back.

MPP claims in its press release that Pepperdine, which is associated with the Churches of Christ, is not being very Christian-y. The group even got Rev. Alexander Sharp, former director of Protestants for the Common Good, to chastise Pepperdine.

While that's certainly one way to look at it, I think the academic freedom angle is more apropos. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education lists the below statements as part of Pepperdine's commitment to free expression: 

* The heritage of Churches of Christ has valued both free inquiry and an ecumenical spirit.

* This tradition–at its best–can sustain both openness to new and different ideas and the kind of diversity that Pepperdine seeks to nurture.

* This atmosphere, in which students are encouraged to explore faith and scholarship, is reflected in Pepperdine's affirmation statement, in which it says, "Truth has nothing to fear from investigation."

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  1. Why teach students how to think, when it’s so much more fun to tell them what they must think?

    Academia isn’t exactly committed to free inquiry, these days.

  2. the undergrad is, of course, free to intern…just not for credit.

    pepperdine is private

    1. So private ownership means that they can’t be called out for breaking their own commitments?

      This is a product liability issue, as much as anything.

  3. Associate Dean Michael Feltner said “the internship is not aligned with the mission and purpose of Pepperdine University and I cannot approve the internship for academic credit.”

    For some reason, when I read statements like this, I think of Hot Lips O’Houlihan, in the cinema version of MASH, wailing, “My commission; resign my commission?”

    As we all know, the “mission” of the University is to seek federal grants, and nothing which might be construed as detrimental to that process will be tolerated.

    1. As we all know, the “mission” of the University is to seek federal grants, and nothing which might be construed as detrimental to that process will be tolerated.

      Something about the federal level in this country certainly betrays logic. This doesn’t stop those seeking the Fed’s funds (in reality, money stripped from hard-working Americans) to conform to this behemoth of draconian legalism. You can buy a lot of social submission with this method to be sure.

  4. Must be all that toothpaste money behind this outrage.

  5. Private, religiously-affiliated university. As is Georgetown.

    Do you now think Georgetown should be made to pay for Sandra Fluke’s Pill, even if it’s against their policy and beliefs?

    1. sandra’s tuition paid for her private insurance

      1. Are you too fucking stupid to realize I’m actually agreeing with you? Goddamn, you are a moron. I think I’ll disagree with you on this just so I don’t get caught in your neck of the woods.

        Pepperdine should be forced to go against their religious beliefs and change their policy in support of anti-prohibition! YAY!

        1. take it easy ok? im not used to anyone agreeing w me on this board

          1. I’m not used to anyone understanding you on this board.

        2. No, they shouldn’t. As hypocritical as it is, they should be allowed to refuse. But they also be called out for it.

  6. Obviously, Pepperdine endorses the morally bankrupt policy of Governmental Prohibition. Heaven forbid, one of their students thinks outside the box. To the University, it’s better that the student work for free for someone (Corps are people, too) who they approve of.

    1. If the student signed up at a school that said, “We support the Drug War in every way, and no dissent will be tolerated,” then that would be fine. I believe the student was misled, about what she would find at the (very expensive) school, once she had signed up.

      1. Look. Drugs are bad. They’re bad because they’re bad, and there’s no point in arguing about it. They’re bad.
        Anyone who questions their being illegal should not to be taken seriously.
        Should the university allow students to intern at The Flat Earth Society?
        I think not. Questioning federal drug policy is on the same level of lunacy.
        Next you’re going to say that human activity is not causing global climate change, right?
        And people wonder why libertarians aren’t taken seriously.

        1. Except that Pepperdine is in a state that has legalized marijuana for medical purposes. The Federal government routinely cracks down on that state’s *legal* marijuana dispensaries. This is indeed a legitimate public policy topic worthy of an internship.

  7. I guess the professor hasn’t read the October issue of First Things, or at least the article, “A Mandate to Disobey”.

  8. I didn’t know that Pepperdine gave credit for anything but surfing anyway.

  9. Unless their national and world councils are some aberration, the Churches of Christ are extremely “left”-wing. So I think this can be taken as an indication that when you go out on the extreme of the “left”, that’s not friendly territory for drug reform.

    Harry Levine had it pretty well pegged. There’s a niche on the “left” that’s friendly to drug reform, but it isn’t a niche that wields any sort of clout on the recognized “left”. There’s George Soros, and then there’s…what? Soros is kind of a niche himself; if he didn’t have all that money, it would be insignificant.

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