Tag Archives: left

Left-Right Agreement on Affirmative Action?

Perhaps anticipating a defeat for affirmative
action in the Fisher v. University of Texas case about to be argued
before the Supreme Court, Columbia University political philosophy professor
and former
Dean of the College
Michele Moody-Adams has just suggested
moving away from a fixation on affirmative action and “Toward
Real Equality in Higher Education
.” Whatever happens in Fisher,
she argues, “we must recognize that controversies about race-conscious
admissions have unhelpfully narrowed the debate about equality of educational
opportunity and diverted attention from the extraordinary inequalities that
continue to exist.”

As “an African-American alumna of a selective
college” and high-level administrator at Cornell and Columbia, Prof. and former
Dean MM-A acknowledges that “diversity” (her quotes) is “unquestionably
valuable,” but unlike nearly all diversiphiles she recognizes that “it can lead
institutions to view minority students as mere means to an end: essential
embodiments of “diverse perspectives” whose greatest value to the
institution lies in their capacity to help fulfill institutional goals.” (Can?
How could it not, since the official rationale for admitting some minorities who would not have been admitted
but for their race or ethnicity is so that non-minority students could be
exposed to them?)
 

Since most colleges are not selective, her
criticism continues, “the percentage of minorities at selective institutions
has little to do with the educational opportunities available” to anyone. Nor
is she persuaded by the “trickle-down effect” defense of affirmative action, a
prediction that minority students would devote their careers to expanding
opportunity in their communities. “Not surprisingly,” she writes, “minority
students have turned out to be like students in general: By and large, college
students do not feel obligated to define their personal goals in the context of
broader social goods.” (Not surprisingly? If it is not surprising that
minority students are just “like students in general,” what is the point of
lowering admissions standards for them so they can provide “diversity” to
others?)

Prof. and former Dean MM-A is clearly no
conservative. She has no use for “familiar criticisms that affirmative action
undermines a system that is otherwise based wholly on merit,” and she rejects
the view that selective institutions do or even should “reward only those
applicants with the right combination of talent, hard work, and ambition — who
really ‘deserve’ a place in those institutions.” In suggesting that the pursuit
of “diversity” should be subordinated to efforts that  promote “real equality of educational
opportunity,” she echoes a long line of leftist criticism of affirmative action
(see a good example here)
as little more than a tattered bandage, or worse, on the open wound of American
racism.

Interestingly, many conservatives agree that
affirmative action is and has been a generation-long diversion from
confronting  the real problems afflicting
blacks in American society. In the long last chapter of his recent book, Wounds That Will Not Heal: Affirmative Action and Our Continuing Racial
Dilemma
(watch this space for a forthcoming
review), Russell Nieli argues that affirmative action was born as a response to
the urban riots of the 1960s but the plight of those who had provided the
initial impetus was lost “in the ensuing decades in the never ending
controversy over racial preferences.” What Nieli calls “the sorry plight of the
black underclass” disappeared from the national radar screen. “The ‘affirmative
action response,’  focused mainly on the
black middle class,” he concludes, “has diverted our gaze from the place it
really belongs and done much to undermine interracial sympathy and goodwill.”
 

Who said left and right never agree?

Politicians Push Professors Leftward

Another wacky idea from California: forcing teachers in the state university system to provide some form of social service as a condition of achieving tenure. Assembly Bill 2132, which passed in the legislature and is now awaiting  Governor Jerry Brown’s signature, “encourages” the independent University of California to include a demonstration of “service” in its evaluations for the hiring, promotion and granting of tenure to teachers.

Dan Walters of the Sacramento Bee writes that “The specifics of Assembly Bill 2132 appear to give great weight to political or at least semi-political activities favored by those on the political left. They include, in the words of a legislative bill analysis, ‘developing programs for underserved populations’ and ‘outreach programs developed to promote cultural diversity in the student body.'” Walters wonders whether researchers working on a cure for breast cancer will be pushed to spend time on service that pleases the legislature.

Add this to the long list of attempts to politicize higher education, from the recent move at UCLA to approve advocacy in classrooms to the battles in teachers’ colleges to require students to display the proper “disposition” (i.e., political principles of the left) before graduating. Anything but actual education.

UCLA Offers Low-Cost College for Leftist Illegals

How to attend UCLA on the cheap? Be an illegal immigrant. Actually, be a leftist illegal immigrant. 
UCLA’s Center for Labor Research and Education and the union-subsidized National Labor College in Maryland have teamed up to establish “National Dream University” for the undocumented. The tuition is low: just $65 per credit hour, in contrast to $396 per credit hour that California residents pay for regular classes at the UCLA. The admissions standards are easygoing: a 2.7 grade-point average in high school or elsewhere. Contrast that to the highly competitive UCLA, where 70 percent of entering freshmen this fall have grade-point averages of 3.7 and higher, and 50 percent of entering freshman have at least 4.0 averages.
There is one proviso: Unless your political views are sufficiently progressive, you won’t be admitted to NDU. According to NDU’s website, all applicants must “demonstrate a commitment to immigrant/labor rights and social justice.” Yes, unlike regular UCLA, National Dream has an ideological litmus test for admission. No College Republicans at National Dream!
            
NDU now offers a limited program of six courses that add up to a one-year, 18-credit-hour certificate and hopes to offer associate and bachelor’s degrees in the future. About 35 students in total are expected to enroll in the program starting in January 2013. All six courses will be taught online, with mandatory visits to both the National Labor College and UCLA. UCLA professors will teach five of the courses and National Labor Center’s campus in Silver Spring, Maryland will teach the sixth at $270 per credit hour. The course titles are what one might expect from an unabashedly leftist institution: “Immigrant Rights, Labor and Higher Education,” “Race, Gender, Sexuality, Class and U.S. Labor,” and so forth. The National Dream website promises to offer the undocumented “the opportunity to learn from influential Civil Rights leaders like Reverend James Lawson and Tom Hayden, Immigrant Youth Movement leaders, and academics and scholars from across the country.” 
           
An Aug. 1 article in the Huffington Post headlined “Dream Act College” stated–incorrectly, as it turns out–that credits earned at National Dream could be automatically transferred to UCLA proper — UCLA administrators have been trying to back off from any implication that illegal immigrants can obtain University of California degrees at a lower total cost and via easier admissions standards than citizens and legal residents. The Breitbart Report calculated that students who transfer all 18 National Dream credits to UCLA can wind up paying $4,728 less than the $7,128 California residents will pay for 18 credit hours earned on campus this academic year. A recent statement from UCLA declares that transfers of credits are not automatic, and that the credits must come from a regionally accredited institution. But since the National Labor College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, the UCLA administration didn’t exactly rule out such transfers.
You might be asking to what extent California taxpayers might be picking up the tab for the UCLA Center for Labor Research’s public-service adventures in discounted college for  the undocumented, especially given the UC system’s chronic budget woes and budget cutbacks these days. The answer is: substantially. In 2007 California put an end to several decades of direct funding for the Center for Labor Research and its parent academic department, the UCLA Institute for Research on Labor and Employment. Now, the UC system itself (which translates at least in part to taxpayers) pays some of the $2.6 million or so annual budget for the Institute (and the Center), according to Breitbart, aided by hefty contributions from unions, such left-leaning philanthropies as the Ford Foundation and George Soros’s Open Society Institute, and the city of Los Angeles, which donated $50,000 to the Institute in 2010. UCLA might be trying to distance itself from NDU. But as a public institution supported by hefty public subsidies, it can’t escape responsibility for the fact that one of its own centers staffed by its own professors is offering advocacy courses to illegal immigrants chosen on the basis of political ideology, not academic merit. 

A Modest Proposal to Promote Intellectual Diversity

Weissberg essay.jpegAs one who has spent
nearly four decades in the academy, let me confirm what outsiders often
suspect: the left has almost a complete headlock on the publication of serious
(peer reviewed) research in journals and scholarly books. It is not that
heretical ideas are forever buried. They can be expressed in popular magazines,
op-eds and, think tank publications and especially, on blogs. Nevertheless, and
this is critical, these off-campus writings do not count for tenure or
promotion. A successful academic career at a top school requires publishing in
disciplinary outlets and with scant exception these outlets filter out those
who reject the PC orthodoxies.

Continue reading A Modest Proposal to Promote Intellectual Diversity

A Survival Guide for the Right in Leftist Academia

Back in 2010, University of Illinois, Chicago, Professor and former
Weatherman radical Bill Ayers gave a presentation on Public Pedagogy at the
American Education Research Association annual meeting. Ayers, then a member of
AERA’s governing board, made the claim that he, Bill Ayers, was really not a
terrorist. Ten of the first 11 sentences in the talk abstract were in the first
person singular, before Bill Ayers switched gears to say that really, any
violence Bill Ayers might have encouraged merely came in response to the evils
of the U.S. government.   

Continue reading A Survival Guide for the Right in Leftist Academia

The Hunt for Conservative and Liberal Genes

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Based on “new findings involving behavioral genetics,” reports the Chronicle of Higher Education,
a growing clump of contemporary social scientists agrees with Gilbert
and Sullivan that both liberals and conservatives (but especially
conservatives) are the product of nature, although they seem to find
nature’s production of conservatives more tragic than comic.

Swimming upstream against the strong current of conventional campus
wisdom holding that just about everything controversial –race, sexual
preference, IQ, gender identity and even gender itself — is “socially
constructed,” these behavioral geneticists believe that political
differences are not caused primarily by conflicting ideologies or moral
visions but instead are deeply rooted in the psyche and even the genes.
As one of these scholars put it, “The differences between political left
and right are now being recognized as ‘very deep and psychological,
such that they connect with very basic personality tendencies that don’t
really have anything in particular to do with politics.'” One estimate
“showed that as much as 40 percent of a person’s political orientation
can be explained by genes.”

Continue reading The Hunt for Conservative and Liberal Genes

Left Bias on Campus Proven–Now What?

It wasn’t so long ago that the infrequent charge of liberal bias on college campuses was met with mockery and disdain. The allegations go all the way back to William F. Buckley’s God and Man at Yale (1951) and Russell Kirk’s Academic Freedom: An Essay in Definition (1955), neither of which earned the authors anything but distaste from professors. With Allan Bloom’s The Closing of the American Mind (1987) and David Horowitz’ initial efforts on the Academic Bill of Rights (recounted here), the hostility level rose, but people still denied the fact of bias, for instance, citing the business school as a hive of free market ideology.

Continue reading Left Bias on Campus Proven–Now What?

The Coming Decline of the Academic Left

indoctrination.jpgIt is no secret that what passes for an education at most of the nation’s colleges and universities is suspiciously akin to indoctrination. An asterisk: With the exception of a few areas–specifically, climate and the environment, certain fields within biology and medicine, history of science and the interaction between science and public policy–the rot that infects the rest of academia has been averted in science and engineering schools. A student who seeks a higher education in the unsullied areas of science and engineering can obtain truly the finest technical education that can be found on our planet at innumerable universities throughout the United States.

But when surveying the remaining disciplines in academia, as well as
the administrative structures that direct the nation’s academic
enterprise, one can say that today’s students are subject there to an
unsubtle, mind-numbing, conformist indoctrination. Numerous polls
conducted in humanities and social sciences departments–at elite, state and minor universities–reveal a stunning skew between liberals
and conservatives at least as distorted as 90%-10%. The inherent bias
spills over into classroom presentations, selection of curricula, and
grading. Moreover, it has been thus for at least two generations.

Continue reading The Coming Decline of the Academic Left

Teach Them What to Think, and Maybe Bribe Them Too

Do some professors offer bribes to their students for promising to support leftist causes? Yes, it happens, and a few teachers, at least, see nothing wrong with it. Mary Grabar, a regular contributor to this site, discusses the practice here, and has video of a Georgia State education professor named Jennifer Esposito offering extra marks to students if they write state legislators opposing bills aimed at combating illegal immigration.

Continue reading Teach Them What to Think, and Maybe Bribe Them Too

The Radicalization of the University of California

University_of_California_Seal.svg.pngAre the 234,000 students enrolled in the massive University of California system receiving an education or a re-education?

It’s the latter–or something fairly close–according to “A Crisis of Competence,” a report just released by the California Association of Scholars (CAS), the Golden State affiliate of the National Association of Scholars. The devastating 87-page report addressed to UC’s Board of Regents, concludes that leftist political indoctrination represents a significant portion of the curriculum at the nine UC campuses that admit undergraduates. Here are some major points:

— UC-Santa Cruz offers no fewer than five introductory courses devoted
exclusively to the thinking of Karl Marx. You can take a basic course on
Marx in the politics, sociology, community studies, legal studies, or
history of consciousness departments–or if, you wish, take all five
courses simultaneously in all five departments, several of which also
offer advanced courses on Marx’s works. “Adolescent Marxist nostalgia
still evidently reigns on campus and impedes a return to reality–but
where are the adults who might be pointing out that it is time to grow
up and move on to thinkers who have been able to withstand the test of
time and to remain more relevant to modern life?” the report asks.

Continue reading The Radicalization of the University of California

How Administrations Undermine Their Faculties

the fall of the faculty.jpgIt’s no secret that America’s colleges and universities have become bastions of political rectitude. This is often attributed to the left-liberal political orientation of the faculty. Typically, however, the administration, not the faculty, is the driving force behind efforts to promote campus diversity, to build multicultural programming and to regulate campus speech.  The president of the University of Rochester, for example, recently announced a 31-point “diversity plan” saying that diversity was a “fundamental value” of his university.

What accounts for the solicitude shown by university administrators for this progressive political agenda?  The chief reason is that a pitched battle for control of the university is under way, and by championing left-liberal causes administrators hope to bolster their own power

The Campus Left’s Nostalgia Party – RSVP

way we were.bmp

I head an organization, the National Association of Scholars (NAS), that is often accused by its critics on the academic left of nostalgia for days when higher education was an exclusive club for the privileged.  The accusation is false.  NAS focuses on the enduring principles of the university:  rational inquiry, liberal learning, and academic freedom.  True, there have been points in the past when these principles have been better observed than they are today, but our interest is in the future of the university, not its past. 

Thus I was eager to learn more when I heard that a group of professors had come forward to promote an ambitious “Campaign for the Future of Higher Education.”  Alas, my excitement proved premature.  It turns out that the Campaign is mostly reactionary.  It was put together by an alliance of groups, mostly unions, fearful of current trends and desperate to halt developments that may well lead away from a recent epoch in which higher education was indeed “an exclusive club for the privileged.”  The “Campaign for Higher Education” might be better titled, “The Way We Were.”

In January the California Faculty Association (CFA), a faculty union, convened a meeting of seventy faculty members, representing several other unions and other organizations, including the AAUP, the American Federation of Teachers, and the National Education Association.  The Chronicle of Higher Education reported under the headline, “Faculty Groups Gather to Craft a United Stand on Higher-Education Policy,” that the attendees agreed to take back to their memberships a document drafted by the CFA that “outlines a set of principles it believes should undergird higher-education policy over the next decade.”  AAUP president Cary Nelson indicated that the principles would be presented publicly in April in a series of teach-ins.

Continue reading The Campus Left’s Nostalgia Party – RSVP

A Double Shock to Liberal Professors

haidt200.jpgSocial psychology has long been a haven for left-wing scholars. Jonathan Haidt, one of  the best known and most respected young social psychologists, has heaved two bombshells at his field–one indicting it for effectively excluding conservatives (he is a liberal) and the other for what he sees as a jaundiced and cult-like opposition to religion (he is an atheist).

Here he is on the treatment of conservatives:

I submit to you that the under-representation of conservatives in social psychology, by a factor of several hundred, is evidence that we are a tribal moral community that actively discourages conservatives from entering. … We should take our own rhetoric about the benefits of diversity seriously and apply it to ourselves. … Just imagine if we had a true diversity of perspectives in social psychology.  Imagine if conservative students felt free enough to challenge our dominant ideas, and bold enough to pull us out of our deepest ideological ruts. That is my vision for our bright  post-partisan future.

Continue reading A Double Shock to Liberal Professors

Why So Few Conservative And Libertarian Professors?

Two researchers offer a new twist on an old question—why do college professors overwhelmingly lean to the left? Bias against conservatives is not the main reason, nor are the allegedly higher IQs of liberals, say Neil Gross of the University of British Columbia and Ethan Fosse of Harvard. Instead they suggest a theory of “path dependence” –few conservatives are attracted to work in scholarly fields dominated by the left, just as few males want to be nurses in a traditionally female field. People tend to giggle when a man wants to become a nurse, they say, and conservatives tend to feel similar embarrassment in entering leftist academe.
This giggle theory underrates what leftist domination does to faculties. In the recent book The Politically Correct University: Problems, Scope and Reforms, Charlotta Stern and I discuss groupthink mechanisms. The majoritarian procedure of each department means that once a majority leans left, the department will tend toward leftist uniformity. The pyramidal structure of each discipline means that publication, awards, grants, recommendations will follow the pyramid’s apex, and if the apex goes left it tends to sweep leftists/neuters into job posts throughout the pyramid.
If leftists have a lock on many fields, it means that non-left applicants will tend to be screened out. Awareness of that feeds back to the non-left student’s thoughts about the future. Self-selection is a function of the screening.

Continue reading Why So Few Conservative And Libertarian Professors?

That ”Hate America” Test

Candace de Russy’s January 7 post here, “Hate-America Sociology,” understandably attracted a lot of attention. It cited a 10-question Soc 101 quiz at an unnamed eastern college, complete with accusatory leftish questions and some simple-minded answers by a student who drew a mark of 100 for agreeing with the politics of his professor.
A few readers, and many more at other sites that linked to us, asked if the test and answers are authentic. I am satisfied that they are. The material came with assurances from Dr. de Russy, a former professor and trustee at the State University of New York. I know the college involved and have a copy of the test with answers filled in. I talked with the source for the story, who cannot be identified because of privacy concerns and fear of retaliation.
The blog Progressive Scholar saw nothing wrong with the test (“I don’t understand, what is the problem with this exam?”) Dr. de Russy replied, stressing what she saw as the “unremitting bias” of the test. Its point of view, she wrote, is “entirely anti-capitalist, anti-white, anti-male. No other perspective is included, even as a hypothetical.”
Readers who come across other politically loaded exams should send them to us at editor@campusmind.org or Minding the Campus, the Manhattan Institute, 52 Vanderbilt Avenue, New York, NY 10017.

We Are All Marxists Now

In an unintentional, if powerful, commentary on the grip that groupthink has on some quarters of the economy, LeMoyne professor Dolores Byrnes informed readers of the NEA’s Thought & Action that “some professors of education recently told me during a department retreat: ‘We are all Marxist, it doesn’t even need to be said.'”
No wonder Education schools—from Minnesota to the aggressive practitioners of the “dispositions” criterion—have proven so eager to purge from their ranks those with dissenting opinions. And no wonder LeMoyne’s Ed School was sued for dismissing a student because of his (non-Marxist, naturally) political beliefs. Byrnes’ anecdote also shows just how out of touch the higher education establishment has become—and how the nation’s colleges and universities have suffered as a result.
Essay after essay in the NEA’s annual higher-education publication complains about how professors lack respect from the public, without ever pausing to consider how the image of colleges and universities as the bastion of out-of-touch ideologues might have caused the problem.

Continue reading We Are All Marxists Now

On The Right In The Land Of The Tenured Left

What acid rain is to our irreplaceable forests, lakes and streams, leftist dogma is to American higher education. In every corner of the land, it has turned once-flourishing departments of English and history into barren wastelands where only the academic equivalent of cockroaches can thrive. Its corrosive poison – infantile anti-Americanism, hatred of capitalism, scorn for ideological pluralism – spreads far beyond the narrow confines of its source, polluting popular culture, public education, the very laws under which we live. Absorbed in sufficiently high doses, it is morally and intellectually fatal.
While the mind-boggling damage done to higher education by multicultural activists, diversity-mongers, and all-around leftist jerks is a subject very much on the minds of conservatives, liberals seem truly not to care. More precisely, they actually regard it as progress. Shakespeare elbowed aside by Maya Angelou? Hey, education’s got to change with the times, just like the Constitution. Mandatory sensitivity training for incoming freshmen to instill appreciation of transgendered persons? What kind of monster has a problem with sensitivity? Conservative students getting charged with hate speech for daring to take on affirmative action or women’s studies zealots? Exactly – that kind of monster. Even the occasional report in the mainstream press of epidemic ideological conformity on the nation’s campuses fails to elicit a reaction. So what if, as the Washington Post reports, 80 percent of faculty in America’s English literature, philosophy, and political science departments describe themselves as liberal and a mere 5 percent as conservative – with ratios of eighteen to one at Brown, twenty-six to one at Cornell, and sixteen to one at UCLA – or that a study after the 2004 election showed that the Harvard faculty gave John Kerry thirty-one dollars for every dollar donated to George Bush, with the ratios rising to forty-three to one at MIT and three hundred to one at Princeton? (And you think when someone gets around to a comprehensive analysis of the 2008 campaign donations, that will be any less lopsided?) For liberals, the only important question remains what it’s always been: How can I get my kid into one of those places?

Continue reading On The Right In The Land Of The Tenured Left

The Left Reacts To Horowitz

Whenever David Horowitz issues a broadside against leftwing bias in higher education, academics have a ready reply. He packs his sallies with pointed illustrations but the record is feeble, they say. He cherry-picks evidence and magnifies a few bad cases into an epidemic of malfeasance. He relies on indirect documents (for instance, course descriptions) but never enters classrooms to witness how teachers actually teach. And he casts as ideological claptrap respected thinking in fields that has evolved through professional rites of research and peer review.
His latest book, One Party Classroom: How Radical Professors at America’s Top Colleges Indoctrinate Students and Undermine Our Democracy (Crown Forum, $26.95), co-authored with Jacob Laskin, they will maintain, does the same. It profiles radical pockets at 12 universities, examining more than 150 courses in Women’s Studies, Sociology, English, Rhetoric, African American Studies, and several other departments. The conclusion: “An alarming number of university courses violate existing academic regulations that have been designed to ensure that students receive professional instruction” (p. 5). While every statement of principle by academic organizations advocates open-minded, evidence-based, John Stuart Mill-like marketplaces of ideas, in these heated hives “Curricula are designed not to educate students in critical thinking but to instill doctrines that are ‘politically correct'” (5).
Consider the Women’s Studies department at Penn State. Its Web site proclaims, “As a field of study, Women’s Studies analyzes the unequal distribution of power and resources by gender” (quoted, 93). Political inequality, then, is not one of many aspects of women’s history, literature, art, employment, etc., to study, but instead the basic premise and purpose of the field.

Continue reading The Left Reacts To Horowitz

Coping With The Diversity University

Fellow co-believers frequently ask me how I, a “notorious” conservative professor, have survived decades surrounded by loony lefties. My answer—it is not nearly as bad as it appears—usually causes surprise. Appearances are deceiving, I say, and even in the social sciences and the humanities, the left’s stronghold, the batty left’s domination is incomplete—the tip of the contaminated iceberg image is wrong. Unfortunately, the conversation usually stops here; perhaps the upbeat news is not quite believed. It is also a complicated topic, far too involved for lunch-time table talk among university outsiders. But, the seeming contradiction between outward professors-gone-wild appearances and a happier reality is important and deserves a fuller explanation. This is not to say that all goes well within the academy—the oft-discovered abuses are real enough—but it would be a strategic mistake to equate a few loud mouth, often subversive and attention-getting radicals with widespread idiocy. Those wanting to re-capture the academy need to be precise in their surgery.
The primacy of politics among vocal loopy left professors versus and rest of the faculty is fundamental. We are talking about the folk who favor “War in Not the Answer” bumper stickers, plaster office walls with Bush-is-worse-than-Hitler propaganda and consider goofy political buttons and vulgar tee shirts treasured fashion accessories. They are proud of their race/sex/class obsessed lectures and reading assignments. While most professors loath administrative tasks but dutifully shoulder them, radical academics relish this sort of stuff. In a nutshell, they live for in-your-face politics; it vitalizes them and provides meaning to otherwise dreary existences. Attitude towards research is the great divide—serious researchers just lack the time or inclination to save the gay whales. By contrast, among those who find research burdensome, joining the faculty Senate to condemn racism or the Iraqi war is a coveted responsibility. Here they can scheme with ideological fellow-travelers and fill endless hours “helping humanity” while neglecting more scholarly duties.
University rules help fuel this radical clatter. Particularly at research-oriented institutions where a full teaching load is two courses per semester (about six hours or less of actual classroom time), and the same courses are regularly repeated, the activist-minded professor might enjoy 50 hours per week (plus ample vacation time) to agitate. To be sure, his or her non-radical colleague who has likewise abandoned research enjoys comparable leisure, but lack of ideological urgency typically means more time for family, hobbies or just lolling about. As is true for certain evangelical religions, save-the-world radicalism must be expressed energetically; liberals might send checks off to the ACLU or Common Cause but this is weak tea for those frantically rescuing humanity. The urge to propagate the faith is irrepressible.

Continue reading Coping With The Diversity University

Obama And The Campus Left

Apart from Barack Obama’s call for students who perform national service to receive a college tuition credit, issues related to higher education received scant attention in the 2008 campaign. Yet for those interested in meaningful reform on the nation’s college campuses, the election provides some intriguing possibilities—provided that Republicans move beyond the perspectives offered in the campaign and return to the higher education agenda articulated by conservatives and libertarians over the past 15 years.
On issues relevant to higher education policy, Obama was clearly the most centrist of the three major contenders for this year’s Democratic nomination. John Edwards, who hitched himself to the far left of the party, surely would have been a paragon of political correctness. And before her reinvention as a tribune of the white working class, Hillary Clinton employed an often crude, gender-based identity politics.
A January New York Times op-ed typified how the Clinton campaign and its supporters reflected the excesses of 1970s feminism. Gloria Steinem (erroneously) rejoiced that “women over 50 and 60, who disproportionately supported Senator Clinton, proved once again that women are the one group that grows more radical with age.”

Continue reading Obama And The Campus Left

NAS And FIRE Draw Fire

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) and the National Association of Scholars (NAS), two groups conspicuously devoted to protecting traditional freedom on campus, have both come under attack as right-wing organizations.

The criticism of FIRE came in a distorted entry on Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia. The Wikipedia entry, which has since been corrected, argued that FIRE is “keen to wage a culture war on the leftists they see at every turn.” It is true that FIRE defends more conservatives than liberals, but that is because students and professors on the right are far more likely to get in trouble on our left-dominated campuses.

In a sharp defense of FIRE, president Greg Lukianoff pointed out that the organization extensively and aggressively defended Ward Churchill, Sami Al Arian, Nicholas DeGenova (“I pray for a million Mogadishus”), Richard Berthold (“Anyone who can blow up the Pentagon has my vote”) and Donald Hindley, a liberal professor at Brandeis under fire for months for using the term “wetback” in class. Hindley, who has been penalized without getting a hearing, has been assigned monitors to audit his class. The founders of FIRE are Alan Charles Kors, a conservative professor at the University of Pennsylvania, and Harvey Silverglate, a prominent liberal lawyer and a board member of the Massachusetts Civil Liberties Union. Lukianoff, who once worked for the ACLU of Northern California and the EnvironMentors Project in Washington, D.C., is a Democrat.

The NAS probably has more political conservatives than liberals, but it is non-partisan and takes no stances on issues not directly related to the campuses. Years ago, People for the American Way placed the NAS on its weblist of right-wing organizations, citing donations from some conservative foundations. This week the executive director of the NAS, Peter Wood, issued a response, saying that the organization is in fact opposed to intellectual and institutional developments that pose a danger to academic freedom, including politicization of the academy, curtailment of free speech on behalf of sensitivity, and race and gender preferences in admissions and campus hiring – but it is open to people of different views and is not part of the political right.

Wood wrote: “For the crime of standing against the tide of political correctness, the NAS was convicted as ‘conservative.’ It was a false label bestowed in an effort to marginalize critics who spoke not the language of William F. Buckley, but the language of Bacon, Locke and Montesquieu and who took their bearing not from Barry Goldwater, but from figures such as Jefferson, de Tocqueville and Weber. As political correctness moved from an expansion movement to a settled fact, the term ‘conservative’ expanded to include anything whatever outside the charmed circle of identity politics.” The attack on the NAS is another attempt to discredit dissent from campus orthodoxy.

Soft Bias Against The Right

In recent years, conservative critics of academia have had few better friends than Ward Churchill, the Group of 88, MIT biology professor Nancy Hopkins (who fled Larry Summers talk about variations in intelligence between genders), and a few other hot-headed leftists on campus who made headlines. They proved the point about ideological bias every time they opened their mouths or printed their opinions. They were the slam dunk cases, and their high standing proved an embarrassment to their colleagues.

Beyond those outspoken circles, though, the evidence appears to grow thin. For the truth is that the majority of academics are not fiery, intolerant people railing against Bush in class or berating a conservative sophomore in office hours. They fall on the left side of the spectrum and wouldn’t dream of voting for a Republican, yes, but they pretty much stick to their jobs of teaching a field and pursuing more or less apolitical topics. Churchill et al discredited the profession with their partisan heat, but mainstream professors restore credibility precisely by their dutiful, everyday manner.

It is all the more regrettable and exasperating, then, that when they make fundamental choices in their work these moderate professors harbor some of the same biases, although in softer form and more judiciously expressed, and they produce equally discriminatory effects.

Continue reading Soft Bias Against The Right

J-School Propaganda

Nestled away in the heart of one of the most conservative Midwestern states is a publicly funded university radically at odds with its surroundings.

Universities are in theory, marketplaces for ideas and ideologies; centers for free expression as well as vigorous and informed debate; refuges for free and independent thought. But if the taxpayers who help fund this institution heard what certain professors in its school of journalism are teaching students, they might ask for their money back. To some extent, this is no surprise. Most universities and their journalism schools are notoriously left leaning in nature. However, the sheer ferocity of the indoctrination is astonishing. I know first hand. I spent much of the past year at this institution.

It was not a surprise that as a conservative, I was ideologically alone in journalism school. However, it did not seem like a gigantic leap to think that no matter their leanings, professors would keep their politics out of the curriculum and fellow students would be open to and accepting of dissenting voices.

Wrong.

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Professors Of Groupthink

At a conference on November 14, the American Enterprise Institute released two important new studies by Daniel Klein of George Mason University and Charlotta Stern of Stockholm University. Their research, part of a forthcoming book titled Reforming the Politically Correct University, verifies even further that liberals and progressives outnumber conservatives and libertarians on campuses, overwhelmingly so in certain disciplines.

The authors also find that socially conservative professors must publish more than their liberal colleagues to obtain the same positions (a conclusion bolstered by earlier statistical evidence accumulated by Stanley Rothman of Smith College and S. Robert Lichter of George Mason University). Exploring relatively undocumented but equally compelling demonstration of bias, Klein and Stern show too that conservative students are steered away from pursuing Ph.D.s because of fewer research offers from their professors.

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Ave Maria And Credible Right-Wing Threats To Academic Freedom

The Naples News reports that Stephen Safranek, Edward Lyons and Phil Pucillo, all Ave Maria professors, have filled suit against Ave Maria University, contending that they were discharged in violation of their contracts.

The lawsuit was not an unexpected development given the recent controversy at the school. The move to Florida and its handling by the school’s administration has been at the center of faculty complaints. Last year, members of the faculty held a vote of “no confidence” in Dobranski and asked the board to remove him, but it refused. The American Bar Association, which is the primary accreditation body for law schools, is investigating the school’s ability to attract and retain competent faculty members. The ABA also must give its approval for the school to move to Florida. An ABA spokesman declined comment on the lawsuit and reiterated its inquiry process is “confidential.”

Safranek, a tenured professor, was suspended with a recommendation for termination and barred from campus at the end of July. Lyons and Pucillo were denied tenure and placed on administrative leave of absence in August.

To add to this, last month the Law School Alumni association board made a vote of no confidence in Bernard Dobranski and called for Monaghan’s resignation.

The lawsuit is not surprising. Ave Maria seems ever more clearly an interesting effort gone badly wrong.