Recently, a study sponsored by the Randolph Organization discovered that 72 percent of American professors identify themselves as liberal, while only 15 percent align themselves with conservatives. Additionally, 50 percent vote Democratic, with only 11 percent voting Republican. This study has officially confirmed what we already know: There is a paucity of conservative thought on American campuses. As a result, conservatives have pressured universities to hire more diverse faculties. Liberals, on the other hand, fearing the poisoning of their left-wing utopia, have opposed the idea of ideological diversity. Even our very own Michigan Daily has stated in a recent editorial: “Attaining perfect ideological balance in the classroom is neither practical nor desirable” (From the Daily: Stop talking about ‘bias’, 04/11/2005). Furthermore, the Daily opines, “As long as the University has a free marketplace of ideas, and intellectual freedom is not stifled, the liberal bias of many of its professors should not be a matter of concern.” Why isn’t ideological balance desirable? How can a “free marketplace of ideas” function without the existence of a dialogue between opposing viewpoints? And isn’t it a bit hypocritical that the liberals are speaking out against ideological diversity while touting the necessity of racial diversity on campus? Diversity should not be categorized or sub-divided, but, by definition, should be all inclusive. Either you support diversity of all types, or you aren’t really supporting diversity at all.
So why is racial diversity desirable, but not ideological diversity? As expressed in the Daily, this overwhelming bias in the classroom is necessary and beneficial, because for conservative students “exposure to alternative ideologies can only strengthen their own arguments.” Face it: We all know that this is code for “let’s set those misguided conservatives straight.” The only arguments that I feel need strengthening are those of liberals. True ideological diversity on campus is necessary to foster a meaningful exchange of ideas, allowing for all viewpoints to be heard and for the student to make informed political decisions. Our campus is severely deficient in its exposure to conservative thought; there is a mournful lack of conservative professors and conservative speakers at the University. There is no lack of Bush-bashing professors on campus or speakers like the truth-twisting Michael “Moore-on.” The left-wing monopoly on America’s educational institutions must be disrupted in order to create a true “open marketplace of ideas,” instead of the squelching of opposing points of view.
The University clearly supports racial diversity as a means to achieve a multiplicity of background, experience and culture here on campus. No doubt, racial diversity is beneficial and desirable, but is it being used as a proxy for ideological diversity? This situation engenders a campus inhabited by a racially diverse group of “robots,” nodding their heads mindlessly to liberal rhetoric. Racial diversity cannot be used as a substitute for ideological diversity; both are necessary to stimulate us as free-thinking students.
How do we effectively achieve diversity? According to the Daily, “the University should hire on the basis of competence and expertise … regardless of their political leanings.” True enough, preference programs to hire professors should not be used, as they are discriminatory: “Sorry, we can’t hire you, you’re too liberal,” or “you’re a Democrat,” or “too Jewish.” By extension, if preference programs should not be used to hire University faculty, likewise, they should not be used to admit students. I have already demonstrated that preference programs involving race do not promote racial diversity (Support the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative, 03/23/2005). Likewise, preference programs involving ideology will not promote ideological diversity. The experience and quality of the professor should take precedence over his political beliefs. The University must therefore actively seek out qualified and experienced conservative professors in a broad outreach program — exactly what is being done, successfully, with minorities in states that banned racial preferences.
Shuster can be reached at email@example.com.