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Bad Scene


What can we say about the findings of the studies cited by Tierney? The bottom line is that a bad situation is getting very much worse. Massive imbalance is rapidly becoming near total monopoly. The University of Chicago, so important to conservatives, may be lagging at the rear of this trend, but it’s being dragged along nonetheless, as we’ve seen. I see no easy solution here. The elimination of tenure at least has to be considered. While meant to protect and encourage free discussion, tenure has instead allowed a determined ideological cadre to purge its opponents and take control of the academy. I’m not saying I favor eliminating tenure. But I think it’s time to debate the issue. As the Tierney article points out, David Horowitz and others are pushing for legislative reform via an “Academic Bill of Rights.” I have been supporting HR 3077, a bill that would reform federal subsidies to area studies. Carefully tailored legislative remedies will help. But in the end, nothing big can change until the academy decides to reform itself. Yet the emerging total monopoly of the left looks to make real reform impossible. That leaves only the creation of new colleges (like Ave Maria) or other alternative institutions that offer programs for college students–think tanks for students, so to speak. Perhaps the best solution would be more small programs within universities that are congenial to conservatives–on the model of the Robert George’s Madison program at Princeton. But leftist faculties will do all they can to prevent the emergence of even such small programs. For now, we have to keep exposing the shameful truth about bias in the academy, while hoping that new ideas or new institutions will arise to solve the problem. As the studies show, bad as it is, this situation is getting worse. But at least we’ve now got empirical proof of what every honest person should have known all along.


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