Bill Seeks 'Intellectual Diversity' · 29 January 2006

By Celeste Calvitto--Rapid City Journal--01/25/06

PIERRE - Saying that they want to ensure that a wide range of views is heard and tolerated on college campuses, a group of state lawmakers is proposing legislation that would ask South Dakota's six state universities to report periodically on their efforts to promote "intellectual diversity."

Rep. Phyllis Heineman, R-Sioux Falls, chairwoman of the House Education Committee and the chief sponsor of HB1222, said Wednesday that the goal is to prevent situations already seen in other states where students, speakers and faculty members have been harassed because of their views.

"This is not an indictment at all," Heineman said. "For us, it is good governance."

She said there have been no such incidents on South Dakota campuses that she is aware of and that she has heard only "anecdotal" reports.

"We are just trying to be proactive and not wait for any incidents, such as the Iraq war veteran who was harassed at Columbia University," Heineman said.

Tad Perry, executive director of the South Dakota Board of Regents, said that he discussed the idea with Heineman but that he hasn't yet read the bill. He said it could raise some concerns.

"If it is just about making a report, we could go along with that," he said. "If it goes beyond that, I might have some questions."

Heineman said the measure takes a cue from the American Council on Education, which recommended in a report last year that "colleges and universities should welcome intellectual pluralism and the free exchange of ideas. … Such a commitment will inevitably encourage debate over complex and difficult issues about which individuals will disagree. Such discussions should be held in an environment characterized by openness, tolerance and civility," the report said.

The report also said that "academic decisions including grades should be based solely on considerations that are intellectually relevant to the subject matter under consideration. Neither students nor faculty should be disadvantaged or evaluated on the basis of their political opinions."

HB1222 has 25 co-sponsors, all of whom are Republican except three. The Senate's six co-sponsors are all Republican.

Rep. Mike Buckingham, R-Rapid City, said the measure is not aimed at any political viewpoint.

"It's not about liberal or conservative, and it is not an attack on the education system," Buckingham said. "It is just an affirmation of what education could consist of."

He said when he was a college student 25 years ago, "professors facilitated the arguments and challenged our minds."

"They threw everything at us, but at the end of the day, we didn't know what they (the teachers) believed," Buckingham said.

Rep. Gerald Lange, D-Madison, a retired professor, is one of the three Democrats who are listed as co-sponsors.

He said he signed on to encourage debate.

"It (the legislation) is probably unnecessary," he said. "Isn't freedom to speak in our Constitution?"

HB1222 would require each institution under control of the Board of Regents to report annually to the Legislature "on steps the institution is taking to ensure intellectual diversity and the free exchange of ideas." It defines intellectual diversity as "the foundation of a learning environment that exposes students to a variety of political, ideological and other perspectives."

HB1222 says the reports may include steps taken by each institution to:

n Conduct a study to assess the current state of intellectual diversity on its campus.

n Incorporate intellectual diversity into institutional statements, grievance procedures and activities on diversity.

n Encourage a balanced variety of campus-wide panels and speakers and annually publish the names of panelists and speakers.

n Establish clear campus policies that ensure that hecklers or threats of violence do not prevent speakers from speaking.

n Include intellectual diversity concerns in the institution's guidelines on teaching.

n Include intellectual diversity issues in student course evaluations.

n Develop hiring, tenure and promotion policies that protect individuals against political viewpoint discrimination and track any reported grievances.

n Establish clear campus policies to ensure freedom of the press for students and report any incidents of student newspaper thefts or destruction.

n Establish clear campus policies to prohibit political bias in student-funded organizations.

n Eliminate speech codes that restrict the freedom of speech.

n Create an institutional ombudsman on intellectual diversity.


Intellectual Diversity

By Jason Heppler-South Dakota Politics-01/25/06

Here's a breaking news story from the Rapid City Journal:

Saying that they want to ensure that a wide range of views is heard and tolerated on college campuses, a group of state lawmakers is proposing legislation that would ask South Dakota's six state universities to report periodically on their efforts to promote "intellectual diversity."

Rep. Phyllis Heineman, R-Sioux Falls, chairwoman of the House Education Committee and the chief sponsor of HB1222, said Wednesday that the goal is to get ahead of situations in other states where students, speakers and faculty members have been harassed because of their views.

"This is not an indictment at all," Heineman said. "For us, it is good governance."

She said there have been no such incidents on South Dakota campuses that she is aware of and that she has heard only "anecdotal" reports.

"We are just trying to be proactive and not wait for any incidents, such as the Iraq war veteran who was harassed at Columbia University," Heineman said.

Tad Perry, executive director of the South Dakota Board of Regents, said he discussed the idea with Heineman but he hasn't yet read the bill. He said it could raise some concerns.

"If it is just about making a report, we could go along with that," he said. "If it goes beyond that, I might have some questions."

For the complete story, see Thursday's Rapid City Journal.

For a little background on intellectual diversity read this piece by the man who conceived it, David Horowitz.

UPDATE: Here's a copy of the bill. Here's the Rapid City Journal's full report on the bill.

For more background, see this:

According to Karl Zinsmeister's article, "The Shame of America's One-Party Campuses," The American Enterprise (September 2002), campus political, and hence ideological, diversity is all but absent. Mr. Zinsmeister sampled faculty political affiliation obtained from local voter registration records at several universities. He classified faculty who registered as Democratic, Green or Working Families Party as members of the party of the Left and those registered as Republicans or Libertarians as members of the party of the Right.

The results were: Brown University, 5 percent of faculty were members of the party of the Right; at Cornell it was 3 percent; Harvard, 4 percent; Penn State, 17 percent; Stanford University, 11 percent; UCLA, 6 percent; and at UC Santa Barbara, 1 percent. There are other universities in the survey; however, the pattern is the same - a faculty dominated by leftist ideology. In some departments, such as Women's Studies, African-American Studies, Political Science, Sociology, History and English, the entire faculty is leftist. When it came to the 2000 election, 84 percent of Ivy League faculty voted for Al Gore, 6 percent for Ralph Nader and 9 percent for George Bush. In the general electorate, the vote was split at 48 percent for Gore and Bush and 3 percent for Nader. Zinsmeister concludes that one would find much greater political diversity at a grocery store or on a city bus.

And this from the New York Times:

At the birthplace of the free speech movement, campus radicals have a new target: the faculty that came of age in the 60's. They say their professors have been preaching multiculturalism and diversity while creating a political monoculture on campus.

Conservatism is becoming more visible at the University of California here, where students put out a feisty magazine called The California Patriot and have made the Berkeley Republicans one of the largest groups on campus. But here, as at schools nationwide, the professors seem to be moving in the other direction, as evidenced by their campaign contributions and two studies being published on Nov. 18.

One of the studies, a national survey of more than 1,000 academics, shows that Democratic professors outnumber Republicans by at least seven to one in the humanities and social sciences. That ratio is more than twice as lopsided as it was three decades ago, and it seems quite likely to keep increasing, because the younger faculty members are more consistently Democratic than the ones nearing retirement, said Daniel Klein, an associate professor of economics at Santa Clara University and a co-author of the study.

In a separate study of voter registration records, Professor Klein found a nine-to-one ratio of Democrats to Republicans on the faculties of Berkeley and Stanford. That study, which included professors from the hard sciences, engineering and professional schools as well as the humanities and social sciences, also found the ratio especially lopsided among the younger professors of assistant or associate rank: 183 Democrats versus 6 Republicans.

The political imbalance on faculties has inspired a campaign to have state legislatures and Congress approve an "academic bill of rights" protecting students and faculty members from discrimination for their political beliefs. The campaign is being led by Students for Academic Freedom, a group with chapters at Berkeley and more than 135 other campuses. It was founded last year by the leftist-turned-conservative David Horowitz, who helped start the 1960's antiwar movement while a graduate student at Berkeley.