UO undergrad calls for more diversity of ideas

Mateo Sundberg’s Op-Ed is on the Daily Emerald website here:

Over one year ago, the Black Student Task Force released a list of twelve demands for the University of Oregon administration to address campus issues surrounding diversity and tolerance. One of the demands, demand number six, was a request for the University of Oregon to commit to hiring more African-American professors, specifically in areas outside of the humanities and the social sciences, to encourage diversity in our university’s faculty.

However, this demand, and many other similar demands for diversity by means of race and ethnicity in higher education, fails to reach its goal of creating a space of intellectual rigor, debate and ideological diversity.

Commentators on both the political left and right have highlighted how academic departments value diversity in the form of race and ethnicity over diversity in thought. Few people would try to argue that having an entire faculty of white, middle-aged, straight and upper-middle class professors would create a campus climate that was diverse and inclusive. Sadly, this line of thought does not ring true when applied to faculty having diverse political ideologies.

The University of Oregon should continue to pursue faculty candidates of diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds because the life experiences and worldviews of minorities are important and valuable for intellectual debate.

However, if the universities do not diagnose and fix their ideological bias problem, they will become an echo chamber of only liberal ideas and thought, which would result in the failure of our universities duty to be a space of intellectual rigor that is full of debate. Universities do not have a monopoly on knowledge and intellect; they need to hire more faculty members of diverse ideological and political thought before universities render themselves obsolete.

Please consider commenting on the ODE site. Also see this post on Nick Kristof’s recent NYT Op-Ed on the same theme.

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11 Responses to UO undergrad calls for more diversity of ideas

  1. honest Uncle Bernie says:

    This undergraduate sees more clearly than most of our faculty.

    Even among invited speakers, of those addressing issues of public or political interest or controversy, almost all are left of center. Mostly well to the left.

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  2. Anonymous says:

    What mechanism does this bright student propose? Those who agree we should have greater ideological diversity on campus, explicitly or implicitly indicting existing mechanisms, such as they are, what do you propose.

    The whole notion seems entirely Orwellian to me.

    “Thank you for your job talk. Your research seems quite interesting and well received by peers. However, we are only interested in certain perspectives in this hire, in order to achieve ideological diversity. Can you please submit your voting history, your political donation history, and a transcript of your non-academic writings, letters to editor, op-eds, political speeches. That sort of thing. We send the whole package to Johnson Hall 101. Thanks. We will be I touch.”

    Mateo and UOmatters are unintentionally validating one of the most erroneous and dangerous tropes of the right and so far appear to have no concept how to achieve that which they call for. Until they do they are effectively doing the work of the rightists, in my judgment.

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    • just different says:

      Fifty thumbs up. Should ideological tests be administered annually to ensure sufficient ideological diversity? What happens if your “ideology” changes?

      First, a fact check: Mateo’s sole piece of “evidence” of discrimination against conservative academics is a link to a WSJ piece by John Hasnas, of the Cato Institute and Georgetown’s b-school, which alleges in very vague terms that he personally witnessed such discrimination. Given that business schools are chock full of rightists and libertarians of every stripe, Hasnas’ allegation that some left-leaning search committee (at a business school?!?!) sought to exclude candidates for ideological reasons strains credibility. It’s really hard for me to read the Emerald op-ed as anything other than an in-training version of a standard think-tank snow job. I’m sure it will be proudly mentioned in Mateo’s application for a William F. Buckley fellowship someplace, as will the attention it’s getting at UO Matters.

      Progressives allowed this right-wing trojan by being so inclusive when defining diversity that they lost sight of its initial purpose, sort of like being so open-minded that your brains fall out. The broader underlying question is: Should the American academy mirror America–this is the main contention of the “ideological diversity” crowd who say that the academy is “insular”–or should it lead the way in creating the society we want to have?

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      • Honestly inquiring says:

        All of these objections are sound, but such screening is already being done by an overwhelmingly leftist faculty. The question for hor honestly inquiring minds is how to bring a greater va iety of perspectives, unless we are fully self satisfied with an echo chamber. Of course many are quite satisfied with the current echo chamber.

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        • just different says:

          “Echo chamber” used to mean the propaganda technique of incessant repetition of false or misleading statements until they sunk in as truthiness if not truth (e.g., “Al Gore invented the internet,” “Obama is a Muslim,” and pretty much everything from the Trump campaign). But now this meaning has been twisted by the right into a pejorative for someplace (= academia, NYC, California) where everyone (= liberal majority) agrees with each other (= disagrees with social conservatism).

          Maybe we can make this discussion concrete and someone could provide an actual, specific example of a (socially) conservative point of view which (1) is conspicuously missing from academic discourse at UO, (2) where there is evidence of deliberate exclusion of this point of view, and (3) is not an intellectualized attempt to make bigotry respectable? I can’t think of one, but that might just be my echo chamber talking.

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  3. honest Uncle Bernie says:

    I think it is the responsibility of the faculty and administration to come up with ways and means, more than it is the responsibility of the students. (I commend Mateo for having the spunk and insight to speak up on this.)

    For starters, how about inviting some people from those hated rightwing think tanks? To speak in one of the many formal or informal series.I’ll bet they would be thrilled to cone, if they got a civil reception. (Hasn’t always been that way ar UO, I must say.)

    Example: someone from that list of rightish intellectuals who publicly supported Trump. Many of them are well known.

    Maybe one of them could help us here at UO understand how and why most of us didn’t see what was coming.

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    • Progressive Circular Firing Squad says:

      Is it not the burden of those who make claims to defend them, if they are to be believed?

      Is it not the burden of those who call for change to describe those changes and explain how they will work?

      I can think of no worse way to implement the terrible idea of ideological affirmative action than to give that power to the administration.

      I applaud Mateo for expressing his view – truly, we need more of that. But a willingness to make an argument does not make that argument a good one.

      Applauding him for making a weak argument does not address the question by anonymous: what is the mechanism?

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    • Anonymous says:

      Please name these right intellectuals who supported Trump and invite them. What is stopping you?

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    • Progressive Circular Firing Squad says:

      Please feel free to identify these well-known rightish intellectuals who supported Trump and invite them to campus. I will kick in $50 toward the visit if its success puts to bed this this particular hobgoblin.

      “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary.” Mencken

      One of those imaginary hobgoblins is this notion of a left-wing cabal shutting down conservative thinkers on campus. It does happen, now and then, here and there, for various reasons and I agree it is unfortunate. It is not pervasive but primarily a function of self-selection with respect to career choices.

      In the meantime I will be waiting for that invitation to Liberty University to talk up the virtues of atheism.

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  4. Conflict of interest says:

    Don’t forget the climate change deniers, creationists, and pyramids-are-grain-silos advocates. We need a diverse, fair and balanced coverage of all opinions, right? Anything else would indicate some kind of attempt to discriminate between accurate and inaccurate positions.

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  5. honest Uncle Bernie says:

    For those who ask just who are these rightish intellectuals are who supported Trump — they can easily be found. Google ‘Trump support intellectuals.’ You’ll find a number of links, several from sources that didn’t support Trump.

    The list I had in mind — the one I know of — will be found at a link that comes up:

    http://amgreatness.com/2016/09/28/writes-scholars-for-trump/

    Some of them are quite substantial academics, scholars, and writers that I would gladly hear, even if I did not perhaps share their enthusiasm for Trump.

    As for inviting one (or more) myself — I don’t have a budget, nor am I affiliated with any of the groups or offices that would be in a position to sponsor someone in an appropriate series.

    Perhaps some from among our faculty will rise to the occasion.

    Or perhaps some enterprising undergraduates?

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