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.
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 diversityDONATE
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