Intellectual Diversity Not Quotas · 11 September 2003

Filed under: Press Coverage

Diversity, Not Quotas, for Faculties
By David Horowitz, Rocky Mountain News, 09/12/03

Although I am not a Coloradan, I find myself at the center of a Colorado education controversy. Allow me, therefore, to introduce myself.

I am a civil rights activist whose first political demonstration was in 1948 to support Harry Truman's plan to desegregate the civil service. I am now the head of a public interest foundation in Los Angeles, where for fifteen years I have been active in defending the free speech rights of both liberals and conservatives in universities. In the course of my efforts to promote academic freedom, I have visited over 250 college campuses, including Colorado University (Boulder) on three occasions and Denver University twice.

I am neither a lobbyist nor a politician, but a promoter of ideas. I have shared these ideas with academics, journalists and politicians of all stripes. Last July, I proposed an Academic Bill of Rights at a bi-partisan conference in Washington held by the Association of Legislative and Economic Councils at which Governor Owens and Senator Andrews also spoke. While in Washington, I visited with Al From, the head of the Democratic Leadership Council, and proposed the Academic Bill of Rights to him.

In the course of my visits to college campuses I became aware of problems that led to the drafting of this Bill of Rights. Among these were overt politicizing of the classroom (for example, one-sided faculty "teach-ins" on the war on terror); faculty harassment of students -- generally conservatives and Christians, but increasingly Jews; politically selective speakers programs and faculty hiring practices, which have led to the virtual exclusion of conservatives and Republicans from the university public square.

Ten years ago, Vince Carroll of the Rocky Mountain News wrote a column in which he observed that registered Democrats on the faculty of the University at Boulder outnumbered registered Republicans 31-1. It was this extreme disparity that actually inspired my first interest in the problem of academic bias. Last year, I commissioned another study of the Boulder faculty and added Denver University as well. We found that in the social science departments - including history, political science, sociology, English, communications, and African-American and Women's Studies - over 94 percent of the Boulder faculty were Democrats. (At Denver University the figure was 98 percent.)

These are unreasonable results, and strongly indicate that there is political bias in the hiring process - a practice that is illegal under the U.S. Constitution and the laws of the state of Colorado.

What is the remedy? I have proposed the Academic Bill of Rights, a copy of which is available at . In a recent editorial (9/9/03) the Rocky Mountain News asked whether this meant, "Political Quotas in Higher Education?" Absolutely not. The Academic Bill of Rights expressly forbids hiring (or firing) on the basis of political beliefs. ("No faculty shall be hired or fired or denied promotion or tenure solely on the basis of his or her political or religious beliefs.") In other words, it is designed to make quotas unacceptable.

Nor does it mean that faculty ratios need to be "balanced" to reflect a balance in the population at large. "Diversity" means just that - the availability of different viewpoints and respect for intellectual differences. The words "balance" and "quota" do not appear in the Academic Bill of Rights or in any of the literature of Students for Academic Freedom, the organization I have sponsored on 70 college campuses to support these reforms.

As the Rocky Mountain News editorial pointed out, Republicans like Governor Owens have consistently opposed the quotas implicit in racial diversity schemes and it is a good bet, therefore, that they can be counted on to oppose quotas for intellectual diversity as well. I couldn't agree more.

In fact, I have no idea what Governor Owens or Colorado legislators are proposing in their efforts to deal with the troubles on our college campuses. I have not spoken to the governor or his staff or any legislators since I was in Colorado last summer. It is of course my hope that they will be inspired by the ideas in the Academic Bill of Rights. But it is also my hope that institutions like the Rocky Mountain News, the academic community and the Colorado Democratic Party will support these ideas as well.