University’s bias needs correction

To address this problem, first the University must plainly acknowledge the liberal campus tilt.

The University Board of Regents Policy on Diversity reads, “The University shall seek to establish and nurture an environment that actively acknowledges and values diversity Ö”

Accordingly, the board and University administrators must have been shocked to read The Minnesota Daily’s Aug. 18. article, “U employees give more to Dems.” The article reported a gross imbalance between University employees who give to Democratic candidates and their Republican counterparts. In the same article, one University faculty member categorized Minnesota’s campus as “more liberal than Berkeley,” and another described the disparity between liberal and conservative faculty as “overwhelming.”

Anyone who has stepped foot on this campus in the last 40 years knows these disproportionate campaign contributions are representative of a greater ideological imbalance on college campuses across the country. In class and out, capitalism is denounced, determinism is espoused, moral relativism is championed, faith is ridiculed, conservative students are labeled “backwards” and conservative professors are few and far between.

Today, the public university, which trumpets a free marketplace of ideas, has become a bastion of liberal ideology and a marketplace devoid of competition. Undoubtedly, the trend stems, at least in part, from the dominance of liberal faculty on campus.

While many faculty members respectfully refrain from endorsing their political beliefs and ideological presuppositions in the classroom, many do not.

In departments such as history, political science, sociology, psychology and gender studies, ideological presuppositions undergird all that is taught. Too often, liberal professors abuse the great power they wield as educators, ridiculing conservative political stances during lecture or making authoritative and sweeping generalizations packed with unchallenged ideological presuppositions.

At the heart of University diversity policies is the belief that diverse individuals bring unique ideas and perspectives to the classroom, helping to challenge pre-existing stereotypes, expose ideological biases and question engrained presuppositions. True diversity ultimately contributes to a better education and sharpens students’ critical-thinking skills. It seems ironic then, that if the true fruits of diversity are unique ideas and perspectives, diverse ideas and perspectives are exactly what the University lacks.

The administration’s ambivalence and seeming acceptance of such ideological uniformity leaves students with only one of two rational conclusions. Either the University is unwilling to address the overwhelming liberal bias on campus, or their statement on diversity and supposed ideological neutrality are simply disingenuous.

To address this problem, first the University must plainly acknowledge the liberal campus tilt and recommit to fulfilling its diversity statement from more than a race- and gender-based perspective. The University community must recognize the adverse effects of an overwhelming ideological bias and acknowledge the disservice it does to its students by shrugging its shoulders at a system which fails to challenge and sharpen all perspectives.

Second, if the University is truly committed to fostering a diverse intellectual community, it will begin taking concrete steps to develop more of a conservative influence on campus. A logical starting point would be to identify the factors contributing to the imbalance.

As such, the University would be wise to review its hiring procedures for political and ideological bias, and examine the ways in which its hiring process might inadvertently or overtly discriminate against conservative applicants. In addition, the University should begin to actively seek out and recruit conservative scholars in all fields of study.

For too long, conservative voices have been marginalized on this campus. It is time the administration make its rhetoric a reality and reap the fruit of true intellectual diversity.

Bryan Freeman’s column runs every-other Thursday. He welcomes comments at [email protected]