Campus suppression



>The Christian Science Monitor
>6 May 2002
>For more balance on campuses
>By Christina Hoff Sommers
>Washington - In a recent talk at Haverford College, I questioned the
>standard women's studies teaching that the United States is a patriarchal
>society that oppresses women.
>For many in the audience, this was their first encounter with a dissident
>scholar. One student was horrified when I said that the free market had
>advanced the cause of women by affording them unprecedented economic
>opportunities. "How can anyone say that capitalism has helped women?" she
>Nor did I win converts when I said that the male heroism of special forces
>soldiers and the firefighters at ground zero should persuade gender
>scholars to acknowledge that "stereotypical masculinity" had some merit.
>Later an embarrassed and apologetic student said to me, "Haverford is just
>not ready for you."
>After my talk, the young woman who invited me told me there was little
>intellectual diversity at Haverford and that she had hoped I would spark
>debate. In fact, many in the audience were quietly delighted by the
>exchanges. But two angry students accused her of providing "a forum for
>hate speech."
>As the 2000 election made plain, the United States is pretty evenly divided
>between conservatives and liberals. Yet conservative scholars have
>effectively been marginalized, silenced, and rendered invisible on most
>campuses. This problem began in the late '80s and has become much worse in
>recent years. Most students can now go through four years of college
>without encountering a scholar of pronounced conservative views.
>Few conservatives make it past the gantlet of faculty hiring in
>political-science, history, or English departments. In 1998, when a
>reporter from Denver's Rocky Mountain News surveyed the humanities and
>social sciences at the University of Colorado, Boulder, he found that of
>190 professors with party affiliations, 184 were Democrats.
>There wasn't a single Republican in the English, psychology, journalism, or
>philosophy departments. A 1999 survey of history departments found 22
>Democrats and 2 Republicans at Stanford. At Cornell and Dartmouth there
>were 29 and 10 Democrats, respectively, and no Republicans.
>The dearth of conservatives in psychology departments is so striking, that
>one (politically liberal) professor has proposed affirmative-action
>outreach. Richard Redding, a professor of psychology at Villanova
>University, writing in a recent issue of American Psychologist, notes that
>of the 31 social-policy articles that appeared in the journal between 1990
>and 1999, 30 could be classified as liberal, one as conservative.
>The key issue, Professor Redding says, is not the preponderance of
>Democrats, but the liberal practice of systematically excluding
>conservatives. Redding cites an experiment in which several graduate
>departments received mock applications from two candidates nearly
>identical, except that one "applicant" said he was a conservative
>Christian. The professors judged the nonconservative to be the
>significantly better candidate.
>Redding asks, rhetorically: "Do we want a professional world where our
>liberal world view prevents us from considering valuable strengths of
>conservative approaches to social problems ... where conservatives are
>reluctant to enter the profession and we tacitly discriminate against them
>if they do? That, in fact, is the academic world we now have...."
>Campus talks by "politically incorrect" speakers happen rarely; visits are
>resisted and almost never internally funded. When Camille Paglia, Andrew
>Sullivan, David Horowitz, or Linda Chavez do appear at a college, they are
>routinely heckled and sometimes threatened. The academy is now so
>inhospitable to free expression that conservatives buy advertisements in
>student newspapers. But most school newspapers won't print them. And papers
>that do are sometimes vandalized and the editors threatened.
>The classical liberalism articulated by John Stuart Mill in his book "On
>Liberty" is no longer alive on campuses, having died of the very disease
>Mr. Mill warned of when he pointed out that ideas not freely and openly
>debated become "dead dogmas." Mill insisted that the intellectually free
>person must put himself in the "mental position of those who think
>differently" adding that dissident ideas are best understood "by hear[ing]
>them from persons who actually believe them."
>Several groups are working to bring some balance to campus. The
>Intercollegiate Studies Institute, The Young America Foundation, Clare
>Boothe Luce Policy Institute, and Accuracy in Academia sponsor lectures by
>leading conservatives and libertarians. Students can ask these groups for
>funds to sponsor speakers.
>More good news is that David Horowitz's Center for the Study of Popular
>Culture has launched a "Campaign for Fairness and Inclusion in Higher
>Education." It calls for university officials to:
>1. Establish a zero-tolerance policy for vandalizing newspapers or heckling
>2. Conduct an inquiry into political bias in the allocation of student
>program funds, including speakers' fees, and seek ways to promote
>underrepresented perspectives.
>3. Conduct an inquiry into political bias in the hiring process of faculty
>and administrators and seek ways to promote fairness toward - and inclusion
>of - underrepresented perspectives.
>Were even one high-profile institution like the University of Colorado to
>adopt a firm policy of intellectual inclusiveness, that practice would
>quickly spread, and benighted students everywhere would soon see daylight.
>Christina Hoff Sommers is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise
>Institute. Her most recent book is 'The War Against Boys: How Misguided
>Feminism Is Harming Our Young Men.'