The Corner

Whither Chicago?

Last year, I went to the University of Chicago and debated HR 3077, the bill that would reform federal funding for area studies. Several of the students I met after that panel were in despair about the absence of professors of Middle Eastern studies at Chicago who could balance the overwhelming number of faculty critics of America and Israel. It is shameful that students at the University of Chicago need to import professors like Berkowitz to defend Israel, while critics of American and Israeli policies can easily be found on the Chicago faculty. The Berkowitz-Sassen episode can’t help but raise the question: What has happened to the University of Chicago? Two years ago, I wrote about the gutting of Chicago’s famous Western Civilization program. Things seem to have gone downhill from there. Chicago used to be the only truly great American university where conservative students could get a fair shake. Those days seem a long way off. Slowly but surely, the University of Chicago is transforming into just another leftist dominated university. Perhaps the intellectual monopoly is not quite as total as elsewhere. But the signs are frightening. Of course, any fine faculty will have its share of leftist professors–and rightly so. But why must the other side be shut out? Perhaps if we had more intellectual diversity–the only sort of diversity that should count on a college campus–professors would not confuse mere disagreement with inadmissable bias. The real victims here are the students, deprived of exposure to intelligent representatives of different perspectives, and intimidated into withholding their own views for fear of losing faculty recommendations. Conservative students and parents take note: The University of Chicago is not what it used to be–not by a longshot. And let the University of Chicago administration take note as well. Is there no room for a thoughtful and intelligent supporter of America’s Middle Eastern policies, or of Israel, on your Middle East studies faculty? Is academic merit so unevenly distributed throughout the population that it falls to leftists alone?


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