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Conservatives on campus speak out against ideological intolerance

Campuses not truly diverse

By Jon Sanders

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December 13, 2002

"Down with 'Diversity,'" proclaims the October 2002 cover of New Sense magazine at Duke University, published by the students of the Duke Conservative Union. “Trampling UNC’s Intellectual Diversity,” proclaimed the March 2002 cover of Carolina Review, a conservative student publication at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The Review cover, which featured a grinning donkey treading underfoot the word “DIVERSITY,” also asked, “If all your professors are Democrats, is Carolina diverse?”

Those student publications reflect a growing trend at colleges nationwide. It takes universities’ manifold pronouncements in favor of diversity seriously, and questions why the collegiate notion of “diversity” apparently doesn’t include conservatives.

This fall conservatives at UNC-Wilmington have criticized a search committee for a new chancellor at UNCW as politically biased because only three of 19 committee members were Republican. They have also criticized the universities’ “unwarranted searches” of the private email messages of a conservative professor and a conservative student “at the behest of a liberal professor and her child, a prominent liberal activist at UNCW,” and the refusal by the university’s Women’s Resource Center to publish information about pro-life groups on their website alongside the information they publish about pro-abortion groups.

At Duke, wrote Bill English in New Sense, “the most perverse manifestation of the diversity hoax” were the speakers brought by Duke’s Major Speakers Committee—several leftists (“Ralph Nader, Jesse Jackson, Jocelyn Elders, Al Frankin, Carl Bernstein, Spike Lee, Joe Lieberman, and Gloria Steinem”) and only one who wasn't (Chief Justice of the Supreme Court William Rehnquist).

Carolina Review’s March issue found that more than four-fifths of faculty members in the departments they surveyed at UNC-CH were registered Democrats.
Elsewhere in the nation, students and their parents have begun to speak out against this intolerance for ideological diversity. The Internet has provided them a means to reach others nationally. New web sites such as NoIndoctrination.org and www.cantwatch.com provide clearinghouses for information about ideological intolerance in academe. And the recent phenomenon of "blogging" (individuals hosting their own weblogs) is providing greater numbers of individuals opportunities to catalog campus intolerance.

Also, the Center for the Study of Popular Culture has begun a campaign to bring ideological diversity to college campuses. “How can [students] be getting a good education when they’re only getting half the story?” asks CSPC founder David Horowitz.

In 1999 a law student at Berkeley, David Wienir, and Marc Berley, executive director of the Foundation for Academic Standards and Tradition, published a compilation of Berkeley law students’ essays on what “diversity” really means at Berkeley. Their book, The Diversity Hoax, contained essays from students across the political spectrum who described the frustrating and frightening ways that the former home of the “Free Speech Movement” now allowed speech from the Right to be stifled.

In November, a junior at Amherst presented a case for the creation of a new “diversity seat” on the Amherst student senate, which already has “diversity seats” set aside for gays, Hispanics, and foreign students. Noting that “[t]here is only one conservative among this year’s faculty,” the student, Theodore Hertzberg, said. “It ought to go without saying that conservative students have been silenced on this campus.” Hertzberg’s attempt was voted down, but it was enough to prove his point that diversity seats were just “a way of giving preference to favored groups on campus.” As Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby wrote, “what better way to prove the point than for a disfavored group to apply — citing exactly the criteria used to justify the other ‘diversity’ set-asides — and get turned down?”

As Jacoby wrote, a similar attempt (with a similar point) was made at Tufts University. There a conservative student named Rob Lichter made the doomed-to-fail case for a “cultural representative” slot for conservatives in Tufts’ student government.

A poll conducted this past winter by the Luntz Research Companies found only three percent of professors at Ivy League colleges identified themselves as Republican, while twice as many (six percent) identified themselves as members of the Green Party and 19 times as many (57 percent) identified themselves as Democrats. The Luntz survey also found that 80 percent of Ivy League professors voted for the Democrat candidate for president, Al Gore, while only nine percent voted for the Republican candidate, George W. Bush.

The American Enterprise magazine’s September 2002 issue featured an article by Karl Zinsmeister entitled “The Shame of America’s One-Party Campuses,” in which Zinsmeister examined faculty political affiliation at 21 universities, including Harvard, Stanford, Cornell, Brown, Berkeley, UCLA, Davidson, and others. Zinsmeister found extremely small (usually single-digit) proportions of faculties affiliated with political parties on the Right (Republican or Libertarian), while the overwhelming majority were affiliated with parties on the Left (Democrat, Green, or Working Families). At Davidson, for instance, 91 percent of the faculty were registered on the Left.

“Even the press corps isn’t this uniformly liberal,” opined The Wall Street Journal on receiving the TAE study. “That this lack of faculty diversity eludes university administrators is especially interesting given the totality of their efforts to reorder all other aspects of campus life based on that principle.”

 


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