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A DARTMOUTH STUDENT'S TAKE ON CAMPUS INTELLECTUAL DIVERSITY:

I was forwarded a remarkable column written by Dan Knecht, a senior at my alma mater Dartmouth and a columnist for The Dartmouth, the traditional campus newspaper. Entitled "The Monolith on the Hill," Knecht observes:

In my almost four years at Dartmouth, I have encountered more than a handful of dyed-in-the-wool liberals. I have yet to meet one conservative professor.

I don't know Knecht or his politics, but I think the valuable point of the column is simply to illustrate the harm to students and the educational process from a lack of diversity of intellectual opinion on campus.

When I was a Dartmouth students, conservatives were on the threatened species list. There were a few, including notables such as Roger Masters, Vincent Starzinger, Colin Campbell, and Jeffrey Hart. This is an eclectic group--Straussian, Traditionalist, Libertarian, Paleocon. And there weren't many of them, but at least you knew where you could go to get some ideas that might be different from everything else on campus. But every one of these guys is now retired, and from a review of Dartmouth's faculty today it appears that conservatives are now on the endangered species list. There are a few, but if Knecht is right, they remain pretty well undercover in dealing with the students.

Casual observation about Dartmouth thus seems consistent with Dan Klein's findings about academia in general and elite universities specifically (Berkeley and Stanford). Klein finds that not only are conservatives and libertarians dramatically outnumbered in academia, but that among younger professors, conservative thinkers are virtually nonexistent. Like Dartmouth, the handful of conservatives on the faculty continue to retire, never to be replaced by like-minded successors.

Let me make very clear--I am not calling for affirmative action for conservative professors or some such thing (so save your emails about what a hypocrite I am). All I am observing is that students such as Dan Knecht are increasingly becoming aware that they are being cheated by spending tens of thousands dollars per year and not getting a true liberal education.

Update:

A number of students and alumin of various schools have written me this morning to remind me that Dartmouth and "elite" schools are not unique in lacking intellectual diversity, which seems readily apparent to me from Dan Klein's study of the public policy views of academics nationwide. This particular column just caught my eye because it came from my alma mater.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. Roll Tide!
  2. Intellectual Orthodoxy at Berkeley and Stanford:
  3. Courage at Dartmouth:
  4. A DARTMOUTH STUDENT'S TAKE ON CAMPUS INTELLECTUAL DIVERSITY:
Courage at Dartmouth:

A few days ago I commented on a very thoughtful article by a Dartmouth student commenting on the lack of intellectual diversity at Dartmouth and his view of the negative effect that has on his educational experience. I have received several interesting follow-up emails from current students and recent grads making similar observations (although a few have disagreed).

Nick Desai, a current Dartmouth undergrad sent me the transcript of a remarkable set of remarks given by Professor Meir Kohn of the Economics Department, introducing Daniel Pipes as an on-campus speaker at Dartmouth earlier this week. I was going to try to pluck out a few tidbits to whet your appetite, but every sentence and paragraph is powerful. So I just encourage you to read it for yourself on Nick's blog which you can find here.

OK, I will give you one little bit from the beginning:

Today, I have the honor to welcome Daniel Pipes to Dartmouth.

Before I tell you a little of his background, I would like to say a few words about the greater significance of Dr Pipes's visit here.

Because this is indeed a significant event-- a triumph over the intellectually deadening effects of political correctness.

Whether you agree or disagree with Pipes's views, I encourage to read Professor Kohn's brief remarks introducing him and his criticism. I once heard John McGinnis refer to political correctness as "shackles of the mind"--a sentiment that is reflected in Professor Kohn's thoughtful remarks.

Intellectual Orthodoxy at Berkeley and Stanford:

Dan Klein has a newspaper column summarizing his research findings on the intellectual orthodoxy at Berkeley and Stanford in the Palo Alto Weekly newspaper.

From the article:

The popular vote for President went 48 percent Democrat and 51 percent Republican. This nearly one-to-one national diversity is unlike colleges and universities, where a one-party system prevails.

We have conducted a scholarly study of voter registration and find that among Berkeley faculty the Republicans are outnumbered 10 to 1. At Stanford the ratio is 7.6 to 1. Lumping both together gives 9 to 1. Talk about a lack of diversity! If this were a gender, race or ethnic-background study it would be considered almost evidence of discrimination.

Most striking, is that the faculties are becoming less intellectually diverse over time. At Berkeley, tenure-track hires at the Assistant Professor level are 30 to 1 Democratic to Republican and at Stanford it is 12 to 1. For Associate Professors, at Berkeley it is 64 to 1 and at Stanford the ratio is infinite--Stanford does not have a single Republican among its Associate Professors (and 40 Democrats).

Dan says that if this was a gender, race or ethnic-background study, it would considered "almost" evidence of discrimination. I think this understates the case--if the ratio of men to women hires at Berkeley was 30 to 1, that would almost certainly constitute a prima facie case of discrimination. Or to put it more practically, if this was the ratio of male to female hires at Berkeley, I don't think a hypothetical plaintiff would have too much trouble finding a lawyer who would take the case on contingency.

And to think that one reason that Larry Summers is in hot water because only 4 of the last 32 tenure-track hires at Harvard were women. I'm sure Stanford's students and faculty would be overwhelmed with joy at an 8 to 1 ratio of Democratic to Republican hires.

You can find the longer version of Dan's research on his homepage here.

Update:

Some clarifications in response to reader emails: First, the observation that the intellectual orthodoxy is getting worse is implicit in the numbers I originally quoted, but not obvious. At the Full Professor ranks, the ratio is 8 to 1 and 6 to 1 Democratic to Republican at Berkeley and Stanford respectively. The observation, thus, is that as full professors retire, and are replaced by the Associate and Assistant Professors, this ratio will worsen over time.

Second, it is true that Republican and Democrat imperfect proxies for intellectual diversity. For instance, many libertarians don't vote, and if they do, they don't register for any party--although I doubt there are so many uncounted libertarian professors at Berkeley and Stanford that it skews the numbers. But that's why it is important to read this article in connection with Klein's other paper, where he does a more nuanced analysis of public policy views, and discovers that views on particular public policy issues match up very closely with this study on Democratic vs. Republican professors. In that paper, he also captures a greater cross-section of instiutitions, beyond just Stanford and Berkeley. So the measure here just gives an easily-quantifiable measure that seems consistent with a more qualitative nuanced analysis.

Update:

Of course I'm a lawyer, so I can't do math, but if 4 of the 32 Harvard hires were women, that would mean there were 28 men and 4 women, which of course, would be 7 to 1 (not 8 to 1). So that's still better than ratio for the entire Stanford and Berkeley faculties and substantially better than for their recent hires.

Update:

There seems to be some ambiguity about what I wrote. First, I did not say that there was a bias here. I said that if we saw a ratio of 30 to 1 in a general population that we know to be roughly 1 to 1, this usually will create a prima facie case of bias. Then the the burden shifts to the other side to provide a nondiscriminatory explantion for what is observed. So that, for instance, it may be that there are no Republicans in the applicant pool--but that answer, of course, just shifts the analysis back one step, and has been quite plainly rejected in the context of women and minorities.

Second, and more fundamentally, this is key point--when Harvard hires 7 men to 1 woman, this is met with a blue ribbon panel tasked with the duty of getting to the bottom of things and finding out what is really going on. When Klein find a ratio of 30 to 1 Democrat to Republican, the academy has two responses. First, it simply denies the problem. Second, even if it is acknowleedged, the "response" is faculty lounge speculation and hand-waving about how this might all be rationalized. The irony, of course, is obvious--there aren't actually any conservatives there to participate in the conversation! Where is the blue-ribbon panel at Stanford on intellectual diversity? There may very well be a nondiscriminatory explanation here--but we'll never know unless we actually consider it to be a problem worth investigating and actually do the investigation.

Whatever the correct approach, surely it can't be that in one case we task a blue-ribbon panel of leading faculty members to find out what is going on and to recommend improvements, and in the other we shrug our shoulders and sit around and simply speculate?

Roll Tide!

Kudos to the University of Alabama Student Senate for having the courage to stand up to their own faculty and condemning the faculty's endorsement of a speech code. The indispensible FIRE is on the case, and has the full story on its website.

From the Student's Resolution:

The Student Senate resolution, sent to UA President Robert Witt and Faculty Senate President John Mason, passed unanimously on February 24, 2005. Authored by Student Senator Pat Samples, the resolution states that "[f]ree speech is absolutely vital to the mission of any university, where new and often controversial ideas must be discussed openly and rationally in order to make advances in knowledge" and proclaims that "[b]y defending free speech for all students, one in no way condones any kind of hate or intolerance; [o]n the contrary, one is promoting tolerance of others despite their differences, especially their differences of opinion." The student resolution also warned that adopting a speech code would be a legal liability for UA and would "greatly tarnish its public image." The resolution's call for free speech for all students directly opposes the Faculty Senate's "hate speech" resolution passed last September.

I want to also express my congratulations to several old friends of mine on the Alabama faculty who were willing to stand with the students in favor of free speech.

It really is extraordinary that we live in an age where students have to educate faculty on the importance and educational value of free speech.

The Torch--FIRE's new blog--also reports that this is not the first time that Alabama's students have stood up to bullying by their Administrators, who once tried to prohibit the display of American flags on campus.

Update:

Whoops--looks like Randy was already on the case.

Update:

Several readers have emailed me noting a comment from Washington Monthly which clarifies that Alabama actually tried to ban the display of all dorm window displays, which would, of course, include the American flag, and that Alabama students protested the ban by displaying the American flag in their dorm windows, which would have been prohibited under the university policy. I apologize for understating the full reach of Alabama's proposed trampling on free speech in the earlier situation.