The Right Coast

April 09, 2005
Intellectual diversity at Dartmouth
By Tom Smith

Let's just say, not a lot of Republicans. I would bet there are many more Republicans, proportionally speaking, among the working people of Hanover, N.H., than there are on the faculty. Working people, however, are notorious for not knowing their own interests.

I have not given this issue a lot of thought. I will say I have been on faculties where I felt isolated in terms of my views, and it is a major drag. I also think the chances that faculties will on their own motion somehow diversify themselves, are about zero. How some outside agency could force universities to diversify themselves, I have no idea. It seems very problematic. The only thing that seems possible to me is for institutions, including new institutions, to compete with those that have decided to be more or less permanently on the left, in areas where it makes sense to say there is a left and right (of which there are quite a few).

Actually, I have another thought. If you really want to change anything at a university, the last thing you want to do is come up with cogent arguments about why what some or all universities are doing is wrong and should be changed. You will only discover that there is a reasonable and lengthy explanation of why there not being a single Republican or conservative in the political science department is actually desirable. The capacity of academics for self-justification is, for all practical purposes, infinite. Most academics of the left are utterly convinced that they are doing the world a favor by discriminating against all things and people to their right, in those rare instances where they are even aware they are doing so, it being usually a matter of habit. The place to direct attention is not at people who last reconsidered their views, if ever, sometime in the Carter administration, but at how federal grant money and other federal support is dispensed. If institutions, say, had to show they were somewhat intellectually diverse, whatever that means, to be eligible for federal money, the paradigms, oh, they would shift.