Phi Beta Cons

Two Wall Street Journal Pieces on Diversity

The Wall Street Journal has recently run two pieces pertaining to the subject of campus diversity. Below is the letter I sent to the editor regarding them.

On April 1, you ran an op-ed by Professor John Hasnas, “The One Kind of Diversity Colleges Avoid,” then on April 4, Professor Jonathan Marks’s review of the recent book Passing on the Right. Both highlight the great intellectual imbalance one now finds at many of our colleges and universities. In fields where there are philosophical divisions (the social sciences and humanities especially), the faculty is overwhelmingly composed of individuals who hold “progressive” views.

That wouldn’t be a problem if faculty members stuck to teaching the bodies of knowledge in their respective disciplines, but many don’t. In fact, many “disciplines” on campus today don’t have any body of knowledge, but rather consist entirely of promoting grievances. In those where there is a body of knowledge, the faculty often consists largely if not entirely of zealous professors who see their mission far more as change agents out to make converts than as scholars who want to encourage students to master the material and draw their own conclusions.

The mindset of many faculty members today is captured in the title of the book Why Higher Education Should Have a Leftist Bias, by Professor Donald Lazere. Lots of academics believe that their students have been terribly misled by their earlier education and need to be liberated from their false ideas. The very last thing such professors want is to have non-leftists around who might un-do their proselytizing.

Some professors in fields that have been completely captured by the left acknowledge that their disciplines suffer. They’ve become so intellectually restricted that ideas in conflict with progressive orthodoxy can no longer be investigated, or even conceived. At this point, however, they are voices crying in the wilderness.

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

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