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U.S. Universities: Education or Indoctrination?

The market of ideas in academia isn't so free.

by
Robert Shibley

Bio

April 27, 2009 - 12:00 am
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It’s difficult to find anyone to publicly admit they believe our nation’s institutions of higher education should not serve as free marketplaces of ideas, where any and all topics can be openly discussed. After all, such an opinion runs counter to the basic nature of the university ideal and would be massively unpopular with the public. Nobody wants to think that he or she is paying for his or her children to be indoctrinated rather than educated.

Unfortunately, on campuses across the country, the line between indoctrination and education is being blurred and ignored on a daily basis. Even more appallingly, students and faculty members are victims of enforced campus orthodoxy. One of the most recent examples comes from Virginia Tech, where the faculty of the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences recently voted on a proposal that would make a demonstrated commitment to “diversity” a mandatory part of tenure and promotion reviews. And Virginia Tech offered a hyper-politicized definition of diversity seemingly calculated precisely to leave those who disagree politically with the university out in the cold:

We, the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences Diversity Committee, use the term “diversity” to mean the desirability and value of many kinds of individual differences while at the same time acknowledging and respecting that socially constructed differences based on certain characteristics exist within systems of power that create and sustain inequality, hierarchy, and privilege.* The College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences is determined to eliminate these forms of inequality, hierarchy, and privilege in our programs and practices. In this sense, diversity is to be actively advanced because it fosters excellence in learning, discovery, and engagement.

* These characteristics include, but are not limited to ability, age, body size and condition, class, color, ethnicity, gender, gender expression, geographical and cultural background, health status, national origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, and veteran status. [Asterisk in original.]

That’s right: Virginia Tech was telling prospective tenured faculty members that if they were not sufficiently committed to eliminating “socially constructed differences” and inequalities based on characteristics including “body size,” they were not wanted.

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