mad anthony

Rants, politics, and thoughts on politics, technology, life,
and stuff from a generally politically conservative Baltimoron.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Avoiding the issues on campus diversity...

My roomate is a grad student at Hopkins majoring in English. Our bathroom is a reflection of our different tastes in reading material - I have copies of Maxim, Car and Driver, and Reader's Digest, while he has the New Yorker and Harper's.

While taking care of business, I noticed that the cover of this month's Harper's had an article titled "Affermative Reaction: what to do when Campus Republicans start playing the diversity card".

I took a quick glance at the article - what it did was set up four scenerios and have people discuss them. The first was if a college in a predominatly Republican area with a predominatly Democrat/Liberal faculty should intentionally hire a Republican/conservative in order to respond to complaints about the lack of diversity. Another case delt with a bio professor who belived in Intelligent Design. All the cases dealt with faculty.

My guess is that most of the people who complain about campus diversity and the lack of conservative/Republican/Libertarian views don't want affermative action. I don't. It would be hypocritcal to complain about affermative action or proportional representation in college admissions and then advocate the same for professors. Besides, there will always be more lefty profs - right-wingers know they can make more in the real world and will head to private sector jobs.

When hiring faculty, the question should not be "what are your views" but "how will you respond to students with views different than yours?". Most students whose politics lean right have at some point run accross a professor who doesn't agree with them - and knows that some professors are more tollerant and open-minded than others.

I would say in college I had two professors who leaned socialist/leftist in classes that discussed subjects where those issues came up. The first guy, a theology professor, let it show in his distain for me. While talking about a paper with him regarding social justice and distribution of wealth, he once said something to the effect of "but what if these people were your family? You wouldn't want your parents to have to work in a factory, would you?" I was speechless at the time, but regret not pointing out that my dad's office was, in fact, in a factory. He is a QA inspector for the government, and while he doesn't work on an assembly line, he supervises the testing of the stuff that comes off the line. His previous job was as a systems technician in a chemical plant. And if you go back a couple generations, his grandparents were so willing to work in a factory that they took a boat from Italy to Raritan, NJ to work in it's woolen mills. I ended up with a low grade in that class.

Another class I took - a philosophy class on Marxism - was also taught by a left-leaning prof. I felt, however, that he was always respectful of people who didn't agree with him. He let me write my final paper for the class contrasting Marx's view on capital with that of Hernando DeSoto, a South American economist who argued that more property rights would lift many countries out of poverty, because ownership of land and houses could be used as collateral to start businesses. I was very happy with my grade in that class.

But much of the complaints by campus conservatives is the environment outside the classroom. Organized lectures and events are often all left-leaning, and campus conservatives who want to protest lefty events or bring right-wingers to campus often recieve static from the administration or worse. Witness the way that campus Republicans protesting Ward Churchill were treated by DePaul or watch the excellent BrainWashing 101 movie by Evan Coyne Maloney, which deals mostly with outside-the-classroom issues.

College campuses will always be way more liberal than the population at large, and conservatives realize this. They don't want a world where professors are hired because they are republicans in the name of forcing diversity. What they do want is to be treated with the same respect that those on the left want to be treated - to not be called rasicst or evil or stupid for expressing a different viewpoint, and to have a campus where controversial issues and speakers from both sides of the isle are given a fair listen, even by people who don't agree with them.


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