The Perversity of College Diversity · 06 March 2006


By Brock Lawley--Millersville Snapper--03/02/06

Barb Stengel wrote a piece last week called "between a rock and a hard place". The article was directed towards House Resolution 177, which in a nutshell is a bill sponsored by Gib Armstrong which investigates the possibility that some faculty members in state schools have used college class time for partisan political messages. I usually enjoy and look forward to reading Stengel's column. And before I continue I will admit Stengel's perspective on Resolution 177 was engaging and succeeded in its attempt to get me to take a second look at Armstrong's real intentions.

However, the fact that a faculty member would be so quick to undermine Armstrong's bill is also somewhat of a red flag that perhaps the bill is onto something. Does it come as a surprise to anyone that college professors resent the idea that a politician could waltz onto a campus and tell them that they're bias or worse yet discriminators? The fact that professors don't approve however does not mean the bill has no merit.

Three years ago, the American Enterprise magazine examined voter-registration rolls for the party affiliations of professors. The results were overwhelmingly liberal. In most cases, Liberals outnumber conservatives eighteen to one. In some places, the results were even higher, by a ratio of twenty-six to one. It should be stated however, that Penn State for example came in a little better at only six to one, but even this can hardly be considered balance. It defies belief to suggest that these political allegiances play no part in the classroom.

The truth is there is hardly a university president around including our very own President McNairy, who doesn't prattle on about the importance of diversity. Yet few of them seem to believe that they should give more consideration to scholars who aren't keen on holding candles at anti-war vigils.

Conservative professors have become an endangered species on campuses, victims of an obvious determination to hunt them into extinction. Today's colleges and universities are not diverse places. They are quite the opposite: They are ideological monopolies and virtual one-party states. They simply do not, when it comes to political and cultural ideas, look like America.

It is undeniable that conservatives have a tough time winning jobs and earning promotions at colleges and universities. Fist-pumping feminists and tenured radicals have tightened their stranglehold, especially in the humanities. With few exceptions to the iron rule of left-wing exclusivity, academia remains an impenetrable wall of liberalism. As I Look at Resolution 177, these are the problems it has set its sights on. How can anyone look you in the eyes with a straight face and say there isn't a dangerous bias. There have been more Conservative Presidencies in the last half-century then conservative Ivy League Presidents.

A few years ago a woman by the name of Diane Ravitch joined the Bush administration as an assistant secretary of education. She served two years and then wrote a book on national standards for the Brookings Institution. With this project finished and her professional resume sparkling, she assumed she would be welcomed back to her old school, where she had taught for twenty years. She was told that her old colleagues that they didn't want her back.

Although Ravitch was by no means a deep-seated conservative, she was a school-choice supporter and therefore had broken ranks with the liberal education establishment and needed to be punished.

Just over two years ago at Elizabethtown College Wesley McDonald, a conservative political-science professor applied for a promotion to full professor. Although his teaching and scholarship were rated "high quality," he was rejected. "McDonald does not represent a model of collegiality, circumspection, or discretion," said a memo from the panel judging him.

Fortunately for McDonald, a new dean arrived at Elizabethtown and last year he received his promotion. McDonald was quoted as saying "I can't believe it has taken so long."

Colleges like to characterize themselves as wide-open places where every thought can be thought, where any opinion can be held, where all ideals and principles may be pursued freely.

The reality, however, is that you will find a much wider-and freer cross-section of human reasoning and conviction in the aisles of a grocery store. If for no other reason, I support House Resolution 177 for the pipe dream of someday enjoying a truly diverse college education.

Brock Lawley is a senior communications major. He can be reached at: snapperopinion@yahoo.com