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Hamilton College student speaks out against the real diversity problem on campus

Hamilton College student speaks out against the real diversity problem on campus

The school that kicked Western Civilization off campus is blind to its own lack of intellectual diversity

When Professor Jacobson graduated from Hamilton College in the early ’80s, it was a school known for its rigorous academics and absence of  “political correctness.”

Fast forward to the new millennium, when it seems not only like a different time, but also a different world.

Now, student Dean Ball shines the light on a real campus diversity problem: The lack of representation of conservative speech.

Walk up to any poster display space in Sadove, KJ, Beinecke, or the Science Center. Look for events sponsored officially by the College (the President’s office, the Dean of Students, the Dean of Faculty, the Days-Massolo Center, etc.). Do you notice any similarities?

Perhaps you spot Dr. Wendy Doniger’s upcoming lecture on the “political framework of gender in the Kamasutra,” sponsored by the Dean of Faculty, among other offices. Or perhaps you see Marvin Sterling’s talk on Japanese reggae, paid for by the Days-Massolo Center and the Chief Diversity Office. You might find, much to your chagrin, that you missed Bat Sheva Marcus’ riveting lecture entitled “Exploring Possibilities of Pleasure”. Your eye will no doubt also be drawn to one of the biggest events of the semester: Dr. Cornel West’s lecture for the Voices of Color series. If you’re beginning to see a trend, you just might have put your finger on Hamilton’s latest diversity problem….

There are many kinds of diversity, and Hamilton is profoundly fortunate to have the prestige and wealth to foster all of them. On an administrative level, the college is laser-focused on some forms of diversity and entirely blind to others. Why? I wish I had an answer. What I do know, however, is that the student body doesn’t share the administration’s blindness.

Ball and his compatriots are on the frontline of the battle for real free speech on campuses. While Hamilton’s deans are sanguine about race agitator West and myriad other progressive pundits being scheduled to speak, with a lone exception, “not one figure whose thinking could reasonably be described as Republican, conservative, libertarian or classically liberal has been invited by the college administration to speak about a political issue on this campus.”

The situation at Hamilton is replicated too many times across the country. We covered the cancellation of Ann Coulter’s speech at Fordham University, done after the school’s administration put pressure on the College Republicans hosting the event. A college in Florida said that its Christian student groups had to have non-Christian leaders. Swarthmore College staff sponsored student attendance at leftist protest events against “Big Oil”.

Even more tragic for free speech: Some students are getting in on the act. For example, the University of North Carolina discriminated against its school’s student gun group by manipulating funding requirements.

However, conservative student activists like Ball are pushing back: He challenged his school’s administrators about the event funding disparity directly when he began asking for co-sponsorship for an event with Dr. Kenneth Minogue, a noted free market advocate.

Dean Reynolds replied that my questions were “not productive,” and asked me to “desist from emailing me on this subject further.” Shocked that a college official would respond so tersely to a few simple questions, I contacted President Stewart’s office for a meeting. Not only did she claim to have no funds at her disposal (not even enough for a small, symbolic gesture), she went so far as to say she couldn’t see a problem with intellectual diversity on campus. Imagine the frustration and surprise I felt when I saw her office (as well as Dean Reynolds’s) listed as a funding sponsor for Dr. West’s lecture.

At other schools, there are petitions for real “political balance”, protests against “inclusion” assignments, and derision of tasteless campus “sex week” events.

None are so blind as those who will not see. Hamilton College’s administrators have only to look at its exclusion of the Alexander Hamilton Institute for the Study of Western Civilization and its preferred speaker roster to see they fail to meet the true definition of “diversity” where it counts most at college — intellectual diversity


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casualobserver | March 8, 2013 at 3:09 pm

Perhaps the new, progressive, totalitarian left that is prevalent in academia sees the ‘old left’ as the limits of diversity? One thing I find often with ‘thoughtful’ progressives – or those who see themselves as leaders in progressive thought – is the need to bury a lot of the past. In other words, to truly ‘move on’ or go ‘forward’ (familiar terms?), you must necessarily stop discussing aspects of the past. And to them, conservative thought is a part of the archaic past. It’s not valid, but it’s how many I’ve talked to see it. In their conclaves (academia), there are only the ‘old’ and ‘new’ progressives.

I saw this interesting tweet last week:

I’m not the only non-conservative calling for affirmative action for conservs in universities. Jonathan Zimmerman:— Jonathan Haidt (@JonHaidt) March 2, 2013

I don’t think we need to resort to affirmative action so much as a little restraint from active discrimination against conservatives. Heck, a little tolerance for diversity of opinion from students who are paying through the nose to attend these schools might be nice.

My son, home on break this week, commented his english professor warned them against writing opinion pieces with which she could tolerate no variance from her opinion. Top of her list was immigration, followed by gay marriage then a litany of other liberal positions. Basically the assignment was to write a piece that buttressed her firmly held ideological positions. Let me tell you how thrilled I am to be shelling out a couple grand for that class.

    Browndog in reply to Mary Sue. | March 8, 2013 at 7:42 pm

    I’m not the only non-conservative calling for affirmative action for conservs in universities.

    Progressive problem solving 101.

    If that doesn’t work, how about they gather a dozen or so at the Student Union and chant “Ho-ho, hey-hey, some conservatives have got to stay!”

    That oughta do the trick.

    Juba Doobai! in reply to Mary Sue. | March 8, 2013 at 8:37 pm

    When I taught at CUNY in the 90’s, the department head liked to keep me around as their token. We liked each other very well, but she appreciated the diversity I brought to the English Department by being the only Conservative there. You see, I was the one who would give my students controversial topics to write on and tell them they were not required to agree with me. Some of them scoffed at first, but the academic rigor of the class and the corresponding rigor in evaluating their work soon assured them that the formulation of a sound argument was of more interest.

Kudos to the students for recognizing that the diversity includes conservative and classically liberal and libertarian thought.

It seems the students can teach the faculty a thing or two about diversity!

[…] This article:Hamilton College student speaks out against the real diversity … […]

Henry Hawkins | March 8, 2013 at 6:15 pm

OK, I demand to know who started this, this college insurrection???

Bruno Lesky | March 8, 2013 at 6:18 pm

As well as ideological affinity with the left, I assume many college administrators are anxious to curry favor with / not antagonize government progressive workers with the power to underwrite all manner of higher education programs. With taxpayer money.

Well I think it’s important that we celebrate and recognize the diversity and contributions, culture, and heritage of all of our students, including the white ones:

Leslie, have you ever read Buckley’s God and Man at Yale? It was written in 1951 and could have been written today. Everything old is new again.