July 14, 2009


Nearly all my professors are Democrats. Isn't that a problem?

"You understand that my column was basically a prophesy," I shot back. I had suggested right-leaning ideas weren't welcome on campus and in response the faculty had tied my viewpoints to racism and addressed me with profanity-laced insults.

What's so remarkable is that I hadn't actually advocated Republican ideas or conservative ideas. In fact, I'm not a conservative, nor a Republican. I simply believe in the concept of diversity – a primarily liberal idea – and think that we suffer when we don't include ideas we find unappealing.

Posted by: Sarah at 09:37 AM | Comments (4) | Add Comment
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1 Yes, it's a problem. Why aren't all of his professors Communists? I expected better from North Berkeley.

Imagine a world where people of all races, genders, and sexual orientations believe in one true ideology and worship one Great Leader. Diversity through conformity!

Posted by: kevin at July 14, 2009 12:39 PM (+nV09)

2 Very interesting read. Thanks for the link! I clicked through to read his article, and then his original op-ed that had gotten him in trouble at school... and came across this interesting bit: I want Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, Marxists, Independents and anyone with a halfway decent idea that doesn't incorporate hate. Well, that's the kicker, isn't it? :-) People can have hate, regardless of their political leanings. But when it comes to ideology, which seems more "hateful": a) Regardless of your feelings, you may not violate Person X's rights, nor may you join with others to do so in a collective fashion; or b) Regardless of your feelings or actions, if you have a material or immaterial advantage over Person X, then Person X may individually or collectively violate your rights to eliminate that inequality ? (Oh, this is SO getting its own blog post soon...)

Posted by: Krista at July 14, 2009 02:39 PM (sUTgZ)

3 This part: "I want Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, Marxists, Independents and anyone with a halfway decent idea that doesn't incorporate hate." should've been in quotes...

Posted by: Krista at July 14, 2009 02:40 PM (sUTgZ)

4 Thanks for finding the original article, Krista. I hope to see your article soon!

And thanks for quoting that key line. I also like what follows:

"I want that [intellectual diversity] more than free football tickets, a new basketball arena or pretty much anything else a University could offer. In exchange for paying $20,000 in tuition a year, I think I deserve it."

He's got a proper sense of priority. Academics before sports. And he should be demanding his money's worth.

Why are universities so overwhelmingly Leftist? One answer is that Leftism is obviously small-r right. Here's another:

The truth is that it is very, very hard to get a tenured faculty position at a university. And the hiring process is unlike anything in a private business. In most cases, one needs a unanimous vote of the professors in one’s department to get tenure. This puts a high priority on intangibles like collegiality, which often translates into sharing the same politics and ideology.

David Boxenhorn commented:

This is a sure-fire way to get uniformity - and mediocrity. The most original people are almost by definition controversial. (Not necessarily disliked, but disbelieved.) A system to promote diversity would be designed differently, with say, professors taking turns on a small tenure committee, or even having outsiders be in charge. The system described above sounds more like a self-perpetuating aristocracy or cult than anything else.

In another post, David proposed a new kind of academia:

Academic freedom is supposedly a big deal, but universities, at this point in time, have exactly the wrong kind of freedom: There are no clear rules, instead there is a clear ideology to which you must conform. So let's try to turn the situation around: What sort of rules should there be? What should the academic meta-ideology be? Well, I know where to start: The scientific method. Unfortunately, the scientific method is not easily applicable to all fields of study, and it is true that in those areas where it is clearly applicable (physics, for instance) ideology is much less important. But, in fact, the scientific method (plus some statistics to make up for the difficulty of doing experiments) can be applied much more widely than it is. Fashionable fields like Woman's Studies or Black Studies are actually very amenable to the scientific method, if you are honest. And it's beyond me why Linguistics isn't a "true science" - you can really do experiments in many branches of Linguistics almost like you can in Physics. So the first rule of academia should be: I can say anything I want as long as I can back it up with the scientific method. I think that will get us far, but what about areas like Political Science, Literature and History? I don't know, but I'm open to suggestions!

I am fascinated by the idea of applying the scientific method to identity studies. Why can't the history and current status of women and blacks - or men and whites - be studied scientifically?

Posted by: Amritas at July 14, 2009 03:26 PM (+nV09)

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