On Wednesday we reported on an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal by a Georgetown professor who reveals the University is engaging in systematic institutional discrimination against libertarians and conservatives.
The problems with this are many, but particularly troubling is the effect, which results in a lack of intellectual diversity, something that ultimately hinders the search for truth and degrades the quality of scholarship and teaching. This leads to Georgetown becoming nothing more than an echo chamber for liberal points of view, something which is already a severe problem, not just on the Hilltop, but university campuses across the nation.
Even more problematic is the overwhelming dominance of liberals in positions of power and privilege in the faculty and administration. This dominance has given some faculty members at Georgeotwn the sense they are free to sexually harass and bully those who think differently than them (something the University countenances when it refuses to speak out when such behavior occurs), and for employees of various administrative units to engage in attempts at silencing the speech of others. That the victims of this abuse and attempts at suppressing speech are always libertarians and conservatives is telling and troubling for those who think Georgetown should protect and promote diversity of thought.
Here’s what Georgetown Professor John Hasnas has to say about the situation:
In the more than 20 years that I have been a professor at Georgetown University, I have been involved in many faculty searches. Every one begins with a strong exhortation from the administration to recruit more women and minority professors. We are explicitly reminded that every search is a diversity search. Administrators require submission of a plan to vigorously recruit applications from women and minority candidates.
Before we even begin our selection process, we must receive approval from the provost that our outreach efforts have been vigorous enough. The deans and deputy deans of each school reinforce the message that no expense should be spared to increase the genetic diversity of our faculty.
Yet, in my experience, no search committee has ever been instructed to increase political or ideological diversity. On the contrary, I have been involved in searches in which the chairman of the selection committee stated that no libertarian candidates would be considered. Or the description of the position was changed when the best resumes appeared to be coming from applicants with right-of-center viewpoints. Or in which candidates were dismissed because of their association with conservative or libertarian institutions.
In other words: the faculty and administration actively discriminates and takes steps to avoid hiring anyone who isn’t a liberal. And it goes even farther by blackballing people who even if they're not libertarian or conservative, simply "appear" to be so based on past relationships with institutions or academics known to be libertarians or conservatives.
Remember, you read it here, and not The Hoya or The Voice, because those publications won’t cover stories that don’t advance the liberal or Social Justice Warrior narrative unless they absolutely can't be ignored.
Here’s the rest:
I doubt that my experience is unusual. According to data compiled by the Higher Education Research Institute, only 12% of university faculty identify as politically right of center, and these are mainly professors in schools of engineering and other professional schools. Only 5% of professors in the humanities and social-science departments so identify.
A comprehensive study by James Lindgren of Northwestern University Law School shows that in a country fairly evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans, only 13% of law professors identify as Republican. And a recent study by Jonathan Haidt of New York University showed that 96% of social psychologists identify as left of center, 3.7% as centrist/moderate and only 0.03% as right of center.
The advocates of diversity in higher education claim that learning requires the robust exchange of ideas, which is enhanced when students and faculty have the greatest possible variety of backgrounds. They argue that exposure to people from different backgrounds breaks down unfair stereotypes and promotes understanding of those who come from different circumstances than oneself.
It is also claimed that being in a diverse academic environment better prepares students for an increasingly diverse workforce, and that this preparation can only be developed through exposure to people of diverse cultures, ideas and viewpoints. And a diverse faculty provides students with role models who demonstrate that people from all backgrounds can achieve intellectual excellence and are worthy of respect.
These are good arguments. But surely the robust exchange of ideas is enhanced by exposure to and interaction with people who have diverse political and philosophical viewpoints, not only cultural or ethnic backgrounds. Actually engaging with those with whom one disagrees can break down stereotypes and promote understanding across ideological divides. And if students see faculty members who share their unpopular viewpoints, they may be more inspired to pursue intellectual excellence.
The relentless call to actively recruit women and minority candidates arises from the fear that if left to their own devices, predominantly white male faculties will identify merit with those who look and think like them, undervalue the contributions of those from different backgrounds, and perpetuate a white male stranglehold on the academy. Yet without an exhortation to pursue viewpoint diversity, this is exactly what happens.
Predominantly liberal faculties identify merit with positions that are consistent with theirs, see little value in conservative and libertarian scholarship, and perpetuate the left-wing stranglehold on the academy.
Having a diverse faculty is a genuine value for a university and its students. Indeed, it may be valuable enough to justify spending $50 million or $100 million to increase the percentage of women and minority professors. But if diversity is really such an important academic value, then why are universities making no effort to increase the political and ideological diversity of their faculties?
Professor Hasnas asks a good question:
If diversity is so important, why don’t we attempt to foster intellectual diversity instead of simply diversity of skin color or sexual orientation or gender? We are constantly told to "think outside the box" and that having diverse teams (in terms of identity group) is essential for the development of new ideas or to advance knowledge, and yet, when it comes to intellectual diversity, here we have evidence that Georgetown actively discriminates against scholars who don't share politically correct or left-wing views.
Here are some more questions:
Doesn't the University have a responsibility to hire the best qualified applicants?
If we want to make Georgetown the best it can possibly be, doesn't that mean we should be hiring the best professors we can find when it comes to research and teaching, as opposed to simply hiring or promoting someone who is under-qualified and who is only there to check the diversity box so as to insulate bureaucrats in the administration and faculty from attacks by those in the identity group mafia?
If we use affirmative action for women, blacks, Latinos, gays, and various other identity groups in order to ensure their numbers representative of their numbers in the larger population, shouldn't we do the same for Evangelicals, libertarians, conservatives, Republicans, and those identity groups that make up what may be considered the philosophical and political right?
And if intellectual diversity, the advancement of knowledge, and the search for truth are so important to a university's missions, shouldn't diversity of thought be more important than diversity of skin color or sexual orientation when it comes to recruitment?
Finally, in your personal life, who do you want performing brain surgery on you or a family member if ever the need arises: the best qualified and most experienced doctor who can do the job right, or an under-qualified affirmative action hire? Teaching courses isn’t brain surgery, but considering it costs $300,000 dollars to attend Georgetown, it’s not unreasonable to expect we only hire the best professors.