Readers will find a great deal of interest in the National Association of Scholars report on Bowdoin College, but they would probably not have expected humor. Nevertheless, it is there in the exposure of the deluded self-satisfaction of the Bowdoin population – administrators, faculty, and even students.
For example, the preface to the NAS report estimates that perhaps four or five out of approximately 182 full time faculty members might be described as politically conservative. The college doesn’t dispute the imbalance but insists that the liberal faculty is capable of representing all views, even conservative views when necessary, and, moreover, denies that the imbalance in any way squelches opposition. In response to an article titled, “100 % of Faculty Donations Go to Obama,” the dean of academic affairs blandly declared her expectation “that individual political opinions do not stifle the education in the classroom and that all viewpoints are welcome and respected.”
One Professor Henry Laurence found himself outraged and insulted at the thought that Bowdoin’s liberals are unable to represent conservative views adequately and called the very idea “morally bankrupt.” The college’s president, Barry Mills, went even farther in countering what he called the “perception” of liberal dominance on campus. In a commencement address he pompously touted Bowdoin as more diverse than what he assumed were the benighted communities for which the graduating class were now departing.
Best of all, perhaps, is the trusting attitude of the students, who signed a statement in the college newspaper declaring, “We believe the vast majority of professors are responsible enough to insure that their own political biases do not adversely affect the way they teach.” Even further, they expressed their considered opinion that liberal professors are actually preferable to conservative professors because “modern conservatives often have very simplified world views and see things in black and white,” while “modern liberalism advocates a much more balanced view of the world.” Could that be true? Why then did history professor Patrick Rael refer to Bowdoin students who had advocated an Academic Bill of Rights as “McCarthyite . . . anti-democratic . . . and Far Right.”
Come to think of it, maybe this is not so funny after all.