The Corner

Education

On the Intellectual Decay at the University of Virginia (and Elsewhere)

At a great many colleges and universities across America, traditional academic standards and norms are being replaced by the “progressive” trinity of diversity, equity, and inclusion. That serves the interests of the people who are intent on transforming the country so it will fit their vision. That vision doesn’t look kindly on dissent or freedom.

In today’s Martin Center article, Joel Gardner addresses this enormous problem. Gardner, a graduate of the University of Virginia and its law school, has been in Charlottesville for six years, working on a book about his alma mater and how it has changed over the five decades since he was a student.

While most higher ed leaders blithely tell us that things are fine on campus, Gardner disagrees, writing, “The fact is that there is an endemic rot of indoctrination, politicization, and intellectual intimidation that is eviscerating the historical purpose and nature of our institutions of higher learning.”

The root of the problem is that many faculty members use their classrooms for preaching rather than teaching. They preach the left’s social justice agenda as much as possible. In doing so, they undermine free thought and civil debate.  They are also turning campuses into places where it’s hard to have fun.

Gardner points to surveys on student attitudes, such as the one conducted by FIRE, finding that 60 percent of students agree that they have suppressed statements about their beliefs out of fear of reprisal.

Moreover, decisions on admission of students and the hiring of faculty and administrators is now dominated by considerations of “diversity” rather than individual excellence. Gardner sarcastically notes, “The one area of university life that this agenda has thus far not intruded is athletics. One does not often hear that college football and basketball teams are anti-Semitic or anti-Asian based on the dearth of those groups on such teams.”

We need to reverse the politicization of our colleges and universities, but Gardner questions whether their leaders will recognize the problem and have the will to do anything about it.

George Leef is the the director of editorial content at the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.

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