Real Diversity on Campus

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A recent study of faculty at 51 of the nation’s top 60 liberal arts colleges reveals that 39% of employ no Republicans as professors. While many colleges and universities in the US claim to be the foremost defenders of diversity, the concept is foreign in campus life.

https://www.nas.org/articles/homogenous_political_affiliations_of_elite_liberal

The findings reported here are not unusual. To be fair, studies like this often assume political affiliation to reflect worldview or ideology, which is not always or completely accurate. Self-proclaimed political “independents” could be Republicans in hiding, Democrats claiming to be openminded, affiliates of another party (e.g., Libertarians, Socialists, etc.), or genuine middle-of-the-roaders; we don’t know for sure. In addition, ideological balance—or lack thereof—varies across institutions and disciplines. Private colleges and flagship state universities typically lean more sharply to the left, as do professors in the arts and humanities. Of course, a professor’s political ideology does not necessarily translate into the classroom. I know progressives who are inherently fair and balanced.

These caveats aside, this study points to a reality few academics seriously challenge: Most college campuses in the US are ideologically progressive. A lack of genuine intellectual diversity shapes campus discussions in ways that promote certain views and discredit others. Many academic conversations consider only left-leaning views of a given issue. There are many examples, but let’s consider two.

(1) The U.S. Constitution: Two general schools of thought are originalism (it means what it says) and non-originalism (it should be flexible). Most professors seem to accept the latter “living and breathing” position as intuitively obvious and dispute how the Constitution should be stretched or whether it is even useful at all. Originalists are presumed to be ill-informed by default.

(2) Markets and Liberty: The two general views here are capitalism (individuals make their own economic decisions) and socialism (the state determines what is best). Most self-proclaimed advocates of capitalism on campus concede its “obvious flaws” and propose some sort of middle ground between liberty and statism. Like the Constitution, the notion of free markets is simply outdated.

On these and other topics, colleges and universities should welcome internal discourse and external speakers who present and challenge all sides. Speech on campus should be free and students should be taught to respect the ideas of those with whom they disagree. Politically incorrect views should be encouraged, including skepticism about the role of government, the current state of the press, the pros and cons of free enterprise, health care, and much more. A college education can be life-changing if it promotes real diversity and critical thinking. Whatever your point of influence—educator, student, taxpayer, or someone who hires college grads—I encourage you to insist on nothing less. Our future depends on it.

3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. LT97  •  May 7, 2018 @4:21 PM

    I am a college senior majoring in psychology at a large state school in a red state. There is no diversity on my campus. My sociology professor said that conservatives are racists and need to evolve with the rest of society. Jefferson owned slaves, etc. I asked him what he thought about Thomas Sowell’s argument that affirmative action often hurts minorities. he said “white people should have real conversations with others before ranting about affirmative action.” He obviously didn’t know that TS is black. I didn’t tell him.

  2. JD  •  May 7, 2018 @7:50 PM

    no diversity on my campus either. I’m a junior in marketing at a midwestern school with about 10,000 students. My political science professor says he’s a recovering republican. My English professor assigned a paper to find a document over 200 years old and explain it clearly in 250 words but said we couldn’t do the Constitution because nobody has any idea what it means. I told my English teacher I was going to major in marketing and she said her course would be very important because I will need to know how to lie effectively.

  3. barry_  •  May 8, 2018 @9:10 AM

    the future is molded through the education system. many escape with a degree but not the dogma. others get caught up in the emotion that is progressivism.