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UO Keepin’ It Classy On Ideological Diversity Issue

UO grad student Dan Lawton, who penned an opinion piece bemoaning the lack of ideological diversity at the UO, has a follow-up opinion piece in the Christian Science Monitor. Lawton describes his further adventures in diversity-land, such as when he sat down to talk with one of the professors who disagreed with him:

He was eager to chat, and after five minutes our dialogue bloomed into a lively discussion. As we hammered away at the issue, one of his colleagues with whom he shared an office grew visibly agitated. Then, while I was in mid-sentence, she exploded.

“You think you’re so [expletive] cute with your little column,” she told me. “I read your piece and all you want is attention. You’re just like Bill O’Reilly. You just want to get up on your [expletive] soapbox and have people look at you.”

From the disgust with which she attacked me, you would have thought I had advocated Nazism. She quickly grew so emotional that she had to leave the room. But before she departed, she stood over me and screamed.

“You understand that my column was basically a prophesy,” I shot back. I had suggested right-leaning ideas weren’t welcome on campus and in response the faculty had tied my viewpoints to racism and addressed me with profanity-laced insults.

  1. Katie Bowen says:

    Kudos!! I saw a slight comment about your question on Fox News and wanted to thank you for bringing up the issue! I’m a poli sci minor and really get frustrated when professors belittle my views to almost nothing just because I’m a member of the GOP!

    There are a few teachers out there- I at least know one at UNLV and appreciate his open minded opinions for both sides! I feel that I learn more with an open minded professor!

    I’m not sure why professors tend to be liberal (it’s a generalization for almost ALL universities). I feel it’s unfair to have such a bias, especially for political science departments.

  2. C.T. Behemoth says:

    That should be 1.8% up there…stupid me forgetting a step in my Math.

  3. C.T. Behemoth says:

    “Do you really expect Lawton to attend every class in the social sciences, histories, humanities, and arts to draw a more thorough analysis?”

    When he backs up his arguments with “research”? Yes. Otherwise, his argument has no real merit other than to make a superficial, unsubstantiated accusation. If he is just writing opinion pieces, fine. Just don’t bother with the extrapolation and acting like there is something more to it…even if you have anecdotal evidence that includes 2 of the 111 faculty he mentions (.02%)

    I honestly think that it’s a very interesting thing he is touching on, and I think that it extends into every label under the ‘diversity’ mantra. I just start to see his work being used as some sort of “a-HA!” moment that leads to more speculation guised as reality crap…and I can’t let it go. Of course, that comes with my name too I guess.

    I agree with what Vincent is saying at 11:36am too. Good points.

  4. Vincent says:

    Well, I only say it’s valuable because, like it or not, “Marxian” thought of various flavors has become a fairly influential method of analysis and there’s mounds of literature that uses it. So, while I think most Marxist analysis is fundamentally wrong and increasingly outdated, I think it’s valuable that students, especially at the graduate level, at least have the opportunity to be exposed to it and understand how it’s applicable to a given subject. Doesn’t mean I don’t think it’s totally wrong-headed, but at least in terms of being able to understand where other scholars are coming from, there’s some value there.

    And that’s the problem I see with shunting people who believe in free markets and all that off to the economics department — entire generations of future scholars in a lot of fields are basically ignorant of anything except a caricature of capitalist thought (“Consume!”) because there aren’t competent advisers for graduate students and no one willing or able to design a curriculum around those ideas for undergrads.

    I think that’s a problem (and, when discussing race/gender/sexuality/etc., that exact situation is frequently defined as a problem.).

  5. Timothy says:

    Vincent – I agree there, although I think that would be a perfectly adequte response. I also disagree with you on the value of applying Marx to anything :-).

  6. Vincent says:

    All those classes are in the econ department.

    Sure, but that’s like saying “if you want to learn about [insert minority] history, go take an Ethnic Studies class.” It’s a standard no one would tolerate if it weren’t usually only applied to capitalism.

  7. Betz says:

    Then why do Lawton

  8. C.T. Behemoth says:

    “Except we

  9. Timothy says:

    All those classes are in the econ department. Economics is not very interesting for command economies, so economists tend to like capitalism okay.

  10. Vincent says:

    Except we’ve been through this a million times before. The answer is not quotas or actively seeking people from Team Red or Team Blue. It’s a matter of re-evaluating curricula and looking for candidates whose work reflects an interest in an ability to teach subjects and offer approaches that aren’t the obligatory racial grievance/3rd wave feminist/cultural Marxist/Gramscian/anti-imperialist/whatever approach that you can find all over virtually any social science or humanities department anywhere in the country.

    Is having someone who can apply Marx to a given subject a valuable member of a particular faculty? Absolutely. So where are the people who can talk about Friedman? Because I’m not sure that, throughout all my years of school, I ever had a class where capitalism was discussed in anything except basically pejorative terms in class (“ruining” “traditional” societies, raping the environment, etc.).

  11. C.T. Behemoth says:

    I forgot to add:

    “that is almost always in the spotlight” and assumed to be an issue that (R), (D), (I) or whatever prescribes to.

  12. C.T. Behemoth says:

    You’re reading too much into my random thoughts Vincent (and incidentally you’re right that it is Jemmalian logic…which was my point). I merely picked an issue du jour. It could have easily been Abortion, the 2nd Amendment, or any other hot topic that is almost always in the spotlight.

    If you read closely, you’ll see that I’m sarcastically making that point about labeling issues or coming at it the other way and labeling people as if they are going to ‘believe’, ‘teach’ or whatever you want to call it…said issue. This, of course, doesn’t even touch on the fact that the political spectrum is far more nuanced than ‘conservative’ or ‘liberal’ and forcing an argument through that dichotomy only simplifies the argument and reduces it to meaningless banter.

    This leads to another question as to whether we’re looking for ideological diversity via label, or if we’re looking for ‘conservative’ issues to be taught, discussed, researched (etc) more often on campus. One might make a better argument by looking at that, but then we’re back to labeling an issue with a political affiliation…which you’ve already pointed out, is sofa king retarded.

    In other words, if we take what you’ve said and follow it to its logical conclusion, then this argument is moot. By assuming a person’s stance on an issue or how they teach or their ideology (etc) via their political affiliation…one is just making an ass out of his or herself. Which begs the question: What, if anything, does having more people with an (R) next to their name even mean in the end? I would say, nothing changes other than people who like simplistic and reductionist interpretations of anything are going to smile a bit wider that day. Really though, it’s nothing beyond the fact that this ambiguous, non-deterministic and hollow label exists next to their name on some list.

    That’s my real issue with the whole argument being made here. Beyond the fact that it is superficial, political affiliation tells us little about a person working in academia other than how they choose to register. The stereotype(s) about Oregon, the U of O, and Eugene in general definitely feeds into this line of thinking though. But again…so what? Yes, I also believe that this criticism can also be leveled against the ‘diversity’ issue as well.

    Furthermore, Oregon law makes it even harder for a person to be ‘other-than’ given the fact that only people with (D) or (R) next to their name on a list are allowed to participate in things like primary elections.

  13. Vincent says:

    Right. Because finding ways of attracting conservative job seekers to campus ipso facto means we’re trying to lure in people who will teach “creationism”.

    That’s some fucking Jemmali-level thinking right there, man.

  14. C.T. Behemoth says:

    Random Thoughts:

    Isn’t quality of scholarship more important than what party you belong to? Are there particular issues that can be branded with one political stripe, and if so, what does that entail for those issues? Shall we begin to categorize and label each issue a certain way? Are we limited to Evolution (D) and Creationism (R)?

    Would Michael Jordan be looked down upon if he made his achievements as a liberal in an NBA that had a dearth of conservative voices? Would Gretzky be despised as a lone liberal in a conservative NHL? Does anyone care about either person’s political affiliation? Why not? Of course, we shouldn’t stop at universities or major sports organizations…right?

    But really, would any top performer in any area even not be recruited because in doing so an imbalance in political affiliation would occur within an organization? Would not hiring someone on the basis of their political affiliation because of such an imbalance occurring be legal and/or justified?

    We could require all faculty to register as Independents. Then it would be a unanimously independent university, right? I mean, all we’re really talking about here is a label that, at the end of the day, doesn’t mean too much and is certainly not deterministic when it comes to a person and their work. That seems to be the accusation here; that one’s political affiliation (or the majority’s) means that the quality of scholarship is tainted and is not addressing all known points of view (which of course we would have to do if we’re going to worry about anyone other than ‘conservatives’ and ‘liberals’).

    This argument is also rooted in the idea that all points of view are, ipso facto, relevant, respected, accepted and worth pursuing at a university (or anywhere). For instance, the argument that Creationism should be a part of any scientific discussion on Evolution because Evolution is a theory (never mind that it has withstood the test of time and the scientific method for hundreds of years and countless studies) which is somehow the same thing as an untested, unscientific, faith-based belief. There is a place for either, of course, but to be taught together as if they are somehow related…is misleading at best.

    Disclaimer: These comments were made by a registered Independent.

  15. Rarian Rakista says:

    Think they go crazy at you when you identify yourself as right? Try being a pro-life progressive at any Oregon campus as it will rile their sense of homogeneous identity politics to the point you can see their blood boil. They will spit with rage as you tell them you are still a feminist, some will say you can’t use that word unless you are adamantly pro-choice that you are not even progressive, that you are are really a republican even though you are are far left of the typical democrat on every other issue.

    Isn’t it more frightening that they are intolerant of other ideological vantages outside their own sphere but fiercely guarding any change from the party line to the point of refusing to identify people who share different viewpoints from the party line as ideological progressives.

    Here is an another anecdote for you all to chew on. I was having a polite conversation with a fellow student on at PSU about gay marriage when another student took interest and began listening intently. The topic went the overwhelming black participation in the California elections causing Prop 8 to pass and she began foaming at the mouth saying that such views were ignorant and racist. When I called Obama an opportunistic bigot for not supporting Gay Marriage now after supporting it in 2004 she pointed at me and shouted, “RACIST, RACIST, I Knew it!” at the top of her lungs.

    What the average Democrat can’t fathom is that there are people more progressive than they are and they will attempt to make every one who disagrees with them a Republican.

  16. Vincent says:

    Congrats to Dan for getting linked at Instapundit, by the way.

  17. C.T. Behemoth says:

    I think it’s dangerous to cite several instances of anecdotal evidence as “research”. Obviously that teacher that blew up went off the deep end, but we didn’t hear much else about the conversation he had with Prof. Jefferson Davis. We also heard nothing of the research other than the fact that political affiliation is a part of the diversity dogma at the U of O and that the number of self-identified conservatives at the U of O is small.

    Still some pretty large gaps of information here before I’m going to start taking Dan’s ‘findings’ more seriously. It’s good that he’s doing this, but he is writing more of an op-ed here than anything.

    Maybe someone out there will read it and actually do more meaningful research and get to more robust findings. In that sense, this is also a good article.

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