The Corner

Politics & Policy

‘Wokeness’ Infiltrates College Music Departments

It shouldn’t surprise anyone that college music departments are under assault by the “woke.” These days, academics in all fields, even STEM, are under pressure to conform or face the fury of the Social Justice Warrior squads.

In today’s Martin Center article, I write about three recent incidents involving music.

One involves Meredith College, a women’s school in Raleigh, N.C. After the death of George Floyd, the school felt the need to begin an anti-racist initiative, and the music department eagerly followed suit. It hired a “consultant” who had a conversation with minority students and alums (to keep everything “safe” of course) and she reported back that they were concerned about racism in the department. As a result, the curriculum has been revised to de-emphasize white, European music and teach more about other music and musicians. It’s a solution to no real problem.

Another involves the University of Arizona, where a music professor who specializes in the viola has created a database of compositions for viola that pointedly excludes anything written by white men. That will put a big dent in any latent racism among viola students.

Third, there’s an opposite case from the University of North Texas, where a music professor is in hot water because he dared to dispute another music prof’s assertion that a little-known German theorist was a racist. The academic mob at his university immediately demanded his punishment and a thorough investigation to root out all racists lurking in the department. Instead of defending him, the administration chose to appease the mob.

The ice under academic freedom gets thinner and thinner.

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