The Right Coast

March 04, 2005
They're Beginning to Notice
By Maimon Schwarzschild

Ward Churchill, and the academic iceberg of which he is the tip, is beginning to produce an understandable public reaction:
Thank you Ward Churchill! As the poster child for so much of what's wrong with higher education today, you moved this issue from the back burner to the front burner of public policy. Whether you stay or go is merely another battle. This is about the war of ideas.

The debate stimulated by the Churchill affair has escalated into a long overdue exploration into the politics and processes of higher education. The sacred cow of tenure is under review, along with the limits of academic freedom and the shameful lack of ideological balance within college faculties. It's like peeling off the outer layers of an artichoke to get to the heart of the issue.

Self-important academics believe themselves to be beyond reproach, sitting as philosopher-kings, dispensing their wisdom to the ignorant masses. Nonsense. They're ordinary people, government employees dependent on their customers and the taxpayers for their income, and ultimately accountable to their bosses and the citizens who elect the Board of Regents. Academic freedom is not absolute.

Whatever the outcome for Churchill, the battle lines have formed and are hardening. Here's what many of us, I hope most, would like to see: substantive change, a revolution even, at the University of Colorado. It must start with electing regents who have a commitment to restoring real, intellectual diversity and an evenhanded exchange of ideas. That means hiring conservative professors to balance the now left-lopsided scales.

It means ending politically correct speech codes for students and the "diversity" and "sensitivity" re-education camps freshmen are forced to attend. It means a housecleaning of administrators, starting with President Betsy Hoffman. It means hiring new administrators with sufficient backbone to take on the entrenched, leftist faculty with knowledge that the regents will stand behind those administrators. If the changing culture disturbs some in the tenured left who preferred their monopoly, let them leave, and good riddance.
Once the public begins to find out what has been going on, this reaction is inevitable, isn't it?