The OC Blog Back Issues Our Mission Contact Us Masthead
Sudsy Wants You to Join the Oregon Commentator

Money Talks

According to the Huffington Post’s nifty little campaign donation tracker, people who identified themselves as employees of the University of Oregon have so far donated $24,962 to political campaigns in the ’08 election cycle. It doesn’t look like the first quarter reports have been added yet, so the real number is most likely much higher by now. How does it break down?

Of that $24,962, only two contributions went to Republicans, totalling $956. Actually, I should say Republican because both of those went to …┬áRon Paul. The majority of the Dem donations went to Obama with only one donation to Hillary Clinton. No contributions were listed from Frohnmayer, although his pals Melinda Grier and John Moseley both donated to Obama.

  1. The Dude says:

    Frohnmayer’s son (Mark) donated to Obama.

  2. Chris Holman says:

    I should also mention that I lived as the minority in Northern Arizona for 8 years, the first 4 of which were in a locale where I was the only white male between the ages of 8-35. I was 12 when I arrived. Not sure why that is relevant other than to let people know where my comments are coming from.

    Even the last 4 years, I was among the 30% white minority.


  3. Chris Holman says:

    Nah, I hear ya…I’m not trying to be counter-Vincent in what I’m saying.

    I think the obsession on the ambiguous ‘diversity’ we’re talking about when it comes to academia or places like Eugene is very strange. I mean, people can be open to everyone, live in a place that is not ‘diverse’ and still feel ok about it all. Or, at least, they should be able to. There seems to be a movement of people who bemoan the fact that African-Americans (among others) do not move to Eugene, Oregon in droves. Should they? I don’t know. It’s up to them to decide where to live, but what a lot of people seem to advocate around here (not this forum, ‘here’ as in the PNW) sounds like something that can only be achieved by heading to centers of African-American (et al.) populations and marketing Eugene as a place to move to because of A, B and C. I hesitate to say that people are so obsessive as to seem like they’d like to ’round up’ minorities and bring them here, but that has too many echoes of slavery, etc. hehe

    Of course, I’d like to re-emphasize my point that if someone does move to Eugene and they are the minority and then, they insulate themselves from the community and somehow spin that into Eugene being unwelcoming, etc. and a land-o’-white people…that’s also b.s. I mean, I take it personally because I think I’m a decent, nice enough white guy who isn’t afraid of minorities and I like to casually say hello to people as I walk by on the street. I don’t do it out of some weird obligation, nor do I say hi more intensely if it’s a minority opposite my stride. I do it to be generally friendly.

    The Diversity sword swings both ways is my point…I guess. I have to go teach, but I’ll come back to finish my thoughts.

  4. Vincent says:

    I’d like to respond in full, but I’ve been sick as a dog for a couple of days, so I’ll manage as best I can.

    First off, I think there should be a general caution against taking the “forest” metaphor too far. In the initial draft of my response, I noted that the comparison does, in fact, break down since the sorts of things that endanger floral monocultures (blight, disease, insect infestation, etc.) are obviously not concerns within a university environment. So I am aware that, while I think there are parallels in the arguments for forest and cultural diversity, I am also aware that there is not a 1:1 parity between the two.

    I’m also unsure as to where exactly I’ve “anthropomorphized” a forest in order to speak about its “feelings.” I would caution against trying to read too much into my forestry example. I understood that the belief that a diversity of flora and fauna is conducive to maintaining a healthy forest environment was a rather well-accepted and uncontroversial one and I thought it was fairly clear that I felt that the argument for forest diversity was fairly similar to the argument in favor of “diversity” as it is more-or-less understood as an ideology rather than simply substituting “Hispanics” or “conservatives” or “homosexuals” for “trees” and calling it good.

    Enough said on forests, then.

    As for your thoughts on academia, I’m not sure we wholly disagree. For the most part, in my time as an undergraduate, then as a graduate student, and now once again as an undergraduate, I’ve had relatively few professors who’ve blatantly brought their politics into the classroom (a notable exception would be a history professor I had as a graduate student at Loyola University in Chicago who arrived half-drunk to class the day after Bush won the 2004 election and delivered a bitter, rambling lecture about how Republicans were fascists — but that’s a fairly extreme example).

    It is, however, undeniable that “diversity” is held in near-religious reverence among the halls of academia and academia’s clear failure to even admit that it is failing spectacularly to include a large segment of the population in its definition of that word I believe opens it to well-deserved criticism. So while a great many professors do in fact strive to be fair (and from what I’ve heard of yourself from some of your students, you’re to be commended on that point), it really is not a true substitute for… you know… an actually diverse faculty.

    No one would consider a bunch of white people gathering together to celebrate Eid in the absence of any practicing Muslims a proper expression of “diversity,” and I fail to see how the 72% of left-leaning faculty occasionally “playing devil’s advocate” in the classroom is substantively any different.

    Also, I’d urge you to look past mere “political affiliation” when I mention “intellectual diversity.” One doesn’t vote for Barack Obama, Ralph Nader, or George Bush because they just happen to like the party mascots any more than one chooses to be a Christian or a Muslim because one likes the shape of the crucifix or thinks Arabic script is a feat of artistry. There are fundamentally different worldviews at play: capitalist versus Marxian; religious versus secular; intrusive government versus limited government. There’s a host of other things, of course; and it all goes beyond mere political affiliation.

    You ask me to explain the “boon” that I supposedly see in being exposed to different people. Unfortunately, I must say that I cannot, as I don’t necessarily find such a thing to be true — it’s merely asserted at every turn by proponents of diversity (check out the arguments in favor of departmentalizing Ethnic Studies to see how the benefits of diversity are taken for granted). On a personal level I guess I’d say that I feel that being exposed to people from other places and backgrounds is often pretty rewarding. I don’t see it as crucial, however, since a person can live a perfectly fulfilling and productive life without ever once meeting someone from outside their town or state.

    I don’t think we much disagree on the state of education and I’m not sure that there’s much else to say about the collision between voting patterns and white guilt, so I suppose I’ll leave it all at that.

    Actually, it seems that my link to the statistics about political affiliations that I posted above does not work, so in the interests of completeness, here it is again.

  5. Chris Holman says:

    I’m not debating any contention about academia leaning one way or another. I know what a monoculture is as well; however, I think it’s a bit of a stretch to draw a parallel between human culture and the ‘diversity’ of flora in an ecosystem. I mean, if we follow your analogy to its logical conclusion, many flora will only be seen in certain stages of the ecosystem’s development and then the dominant species will out-compete others for water, sunlight, etc. Then, the diversity one sees is actually the ‘natural’ outcomes of an ecosystem’s species competing with each other for space. Where Spruce are dominant in plot A, Oaks are in plot B and so on. Slippery slope when applied to humans unless the racial map of the US is showing the dominant species of each plot as it currently stands…and we’re not even getting to managed ecosystems that abound in our ‘National’ forests. Of course, massive forest fires (affirmative action?) can sweep through and start things over from the beginning. The ultimate end to the process remains the same, more or less, after the fire though. Again, slippery slope.

    Beyond your anthropomorphication of a forest’s feelings about what is ‘best’ (i.e. diversity) and the underlying flaws to that logic, I get what you’re trying to say. A diversity-obsessed crowd like we see sometimes here in the Eug strives to manufacture a reality that is more ‘diverse’ and then, somehow, everyone is better. I’d say they’re off-base a bit, and it’s kind of insulting. The same can be said for people who are insular and do not try to communicate or be open when they are the minority in any given situation. Also, at least to me, insulting. I’d also say that it’s insulting to most teaching professionals who are able to keep their own politics out of the classroom when they are lumped together under the whole ‘academia leaning to the left’ label. There ARE people who cannot keep their politics out of the classroom and push an agenda. Personally, I think they could tone it down a bit, but so long as they are open to critical thought and rational opponents who disagree and can encourage a healthy dialectic….I don’t think it’s a problem. A great deal of learning can happen in these types of situations, and I even play devil’s advocate at times to encourage such debate. Granted, some people can’t seem to do that well, or at all. Of course, what I’m saying remains true regardless of the lean’s direction.

    Still, there are only so many subjects where one’s political affiliation could have some sort of impact and overriding influence over what students get out of the class…or are ‘allowed’ to get out of the class within an ‘accepted’ framework.

    I find the quest for diversity that you mentioned to be an interesting endeavor. Namely because of what I said before–there seems to be an impulse to create something that is not natural. Diversity is really just a buzzword though, and its meanings seem to be myriad. As for intellectual diversity, you’re still losing me when you start to conflate political affiliation with intellectual diversity and by extension the notion/disconnect that there is a boon in being exposed to difference. Can you flesh that out a bit more so that I can see where you’re trying to come from? It seems like you’re trying to piece together things that don’t quite fit in order to formulate your argument. I could be wrong though…or mis-reading you.

    I am a cynic when it comes to Education these days. It is hard to see where Education is really a priority given that what has become important in academia these days is how much money one can bring in via grants, teaching is delegated out to academic trainees (GTF’s) who often are unable to teach effectively, and there is an emphasis on what is chic and new and contradictory…and marketable. This….includes….diversity (in all of its meanings I imagine).

    I mean, the Education College at the U of O is a classic example of the first case. They are ranked #5 in the US as far as Ed programs go (#3 last year I think), but when you talk to students in their program they are very unsatisfied. Why? Because the people in the program are great at bringing in funds via grants and doing some research, but they are particularly bad at educating future educators, et al. who are looking for guidance and need some one-on-one time. I’m not trying to smear their program, but it is a good example of how the emphasis on $$$ out-competes the notion of teaching. Teaching is often the lowest on the totem pole, or, perhaps, the weaker species in the academic forest…trying to find ways to get water and light.

    As for your speculation about people voting to erase their white guilt…you’re entitled. It is impossible to quantify, as you said, and there may be some truth to it. Who knows? It does seem that a minority candidate does fit, even if forced to do so, into the overarching story of diversity in places like Eugene.

  6. Vincent says:

    You are correct in noting that the tally is highly non-representative. On the other hand, I think you’re being willingly naive if you’re trying to support the contention that academia does not overwhelmingly skew to the left. here are a few statistics.

    That being established, I’ll try to provide an example of the perils of monoculture. A forest consisting entirely of one sort of spruce, for example, stands a high risk of being blighted by disease or insects. In a more diverse forest, consisting of many species of trees, the results would be minimal. Spruces would perish, but oaks, pines, birches, etc. would survive. In a forest consisting only of spruce, however, the entire forest can be lost, as every tree in the forest is at risk of being infected.

    The parallels between the ecological arguments against monocultures and the arguments in favor of “diversity” are, I believe, fairly clear. In the case of the forest, the argument is that more kinds of flora and fauna make for a healthier ecosystem. Proponents of diversity hold that having a wide range of ethnicities, religions, and — supposedly — ideas makes for a healthier workplace, a more enriching learning environment, etc.

    As the statistics I cited above indicate, academia seems to be utterly failing in its quest for “diversity”, at least as far as fostering intellectual diversity among its own ranks goes. It seems there is a disconnect between the reality of the breakdown of faculty political affiliation and the notion that being exposed to people with different backgrounds, ideas, and beliefs is a boon in and of itself.

    If education is the function of the University (a cynic might wonder if business interests haven’t supplanted that function to some extent), and diversity is held to be an important — if not crucial — element of a proper education, then isn’t a disservice being done to students when the educators themselves, by a ratio of nearly 5:1, come in one form or another from the one end of the political spectrum?

    Incidentally, I do in fact feel that there is a not-insignificant number of people in this most un-diverse of cities and elsewhere that feel that they can erase their white guilt by electing an African American as President, regardless of his ideas or qualifications. Of course, such a sentiment is impossible to quantify, so I cannot of course prove that it is a factor in anyone’s choice of candidate. It’s kind of the watered-down, no-risk, 2008 version of “I marched with Dr. King”, if you will.

    In any case, Obama had nothing much to do with my post. If you’re curious about my thoughts on the man, I have a couple of front page posts elsewhere on the blog, so feel free to take a look at them if you haven’t already.

  7. Chris Holman says:

    I’m not sure I follow Big V’s completely argument.

    I didn’t realize that a non-representative tally of political contributions had anything to do with diversity. Then again, maybe Vincent thinks that people gave to Obama due to some twisted sense of diversity envy due to living in the great white northwest?

    Also not sure how political affiliation has anything to do with defining one’s culture. Then again, is supporting an African-American candidate trying to erode the monoculture…wait, what in the hell is a monoculture anyway? Where does one find such a thing? I mean, without resorting to historical record of groups completely isolated from any ‘outside’ forces…

    The last couple of para’s have a couple of good thoughts though. : )

  8. Timothy says:

    I’d take the beer, but Vincent is known to be defensive of such things. And, for the record, I’m more likely to say something like “punched in the junk by his own gorilla.”

  9. Vincent says:

    Um, can you even read?

  10. Sakaki says:

    A beer for Timothy for using the phrase “hoist by it’s own petard”.

  11. Vincent says:

    Hardly surprising. Interesting, though, that we have been told repeatedly that monocultures are unstable and unhealthy and that being exposed to a diverse range of cultures and ideas is key to a well-rounded education. And yet here we are, with the very institutions who have been among the loudest promoting the “diversity” agenda nationwide failing to live up to their own loudly proclaimed ideals.

    Since this is basically further ammunition for the argument that “diversity” is essentially synonymous with “ethnic or cultural minorities who toe the ‘progressive’ line”, I believe that we can expect to see some histrionic conservatives and other right-of-center sorts beginning to try to use “diversity” as a weapon against comfy progressives who’ve become entrenched in the bureaucracy and are used to getting their own way.

    The results of such an effort, of course, are predictable — and the effort itself is likely to come off as a bit childish — but the point will have been made in any case. In time, the diversity crowd will be hoist by its own petard. It’s hard to reconcile a supposed commitment to diversity when one’s own ranks are singularly uniform.

  12. Michelle Haley says:

    The lady that inserted by IUD gave to Kerry in ’04, too much info. I’m sure. I didn’t realize all of this was public record.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.