The presence of the three prevalent academic mechanisms (noted in the Tuesday's 8-18-20 article) of 1) political outlook, 2) disciplinary pyramids, and 3) one's own department, continue to increase the discrepancy between Democrats and Republicans at American Universities.
One pundit on higher education has described our colleges and universities as islands of oppression in a sea of freedom. While the comment is humorous, the observation is quite serious. The lack of intellectual diversity on our college and university campuses is increasingly troublesome and of profound concern and interest to educators, next generation of leaders and the SAPIENT Being.
As early as 1991, Yale President Benno Schmidt warned that, “The most serious problems of freedom of expression in our society today exist on campuses. The assumption seems to be that the purpose of education is to induce correct opinion rather than to search for wisdom and liberate the mind.”
In his last report to the Board of Overseers, retiring Harvard president Derek Bok similarly warned: “What universities can and must resist are deliberate, overt attempts to impose orthodoxy and suppress dissent. … In recent years, the threat of orthodoxy has come primarily from within rather than outside the university.”
The American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA), was founded in 1995 and is a bipartisan network of college and university trustees and alumni across the country dedicated to academic freedom and excellence. Since their founding, they’ve had occasion to evaluate colleges and universities in terms of academic freedom and academic offerings and what they discovered confirms these eminent university presidents’ worst fears.
A Robust Exchange of Ideas is the Essence of a College Education
Rather than fostering intellectual diversity—the robust exchange of ideas traditionally viewed as the very essence of a college education—our colleges and universities are increasingly bastions of political correctness, hostile to the free exchange of ideas.
Threats to the robust exchange of ideas on our college and university campuses come in many forms, but typically manifest themselves in the following ways:
• Disinviting of politically incorrect speakers.
• Mounting of one-sided panels, teach-ins, and conferences.
• Sanctions against speakers who fail to follow the politically correct line.
• Instruction that is politicized.
• Virtual elimination of broad-based survey courses in favor of trendy, and often politicized, courses.
• Reprisal against or intimidation of students who seek to speak their mind.
• Political discrimination in college hiring and retention.
• Speech codes and campus newspaper theft and destruction.