• July 22, 2021

A modest proposal to curb awake universities

Earlier this month, Nikole Hannah-Jones, lead author of The New York Times’ controversial (and historically dubious) Project 1619 and a apparent supporter of the Cuban regime, turned down an tenure offer from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. If you recall, he was initially denied tenure, with his lack of academic credentials and the fact that the findings of Project 1619 have been widely challenged by historians cited as probable reasons.

However, unsurprisingly now, the university’s leadership gave in amid backlash to the initial decision, which was replete with with accusations of (you guessed it) “racism” and accusations of conservative intolerance of opposing views. The trustees then voted to offer tenure to Hannah-Jones, only for her to poke fun at Chapel Hill’s change of heart.

For both of them, having spent considerable time in recent years on college campuses (at Chapel Hill and Yale, respectively), this change of direction by the Chapel Hill trustees is not surprising. With Erich Prince having been to the Yale campus in 2015, in the middle of now infamous hysteria After a nondescript email about Halloween costumes, it has become clear that college administrators are adept at bending under pressure, be it such demands They come from the national press, from a small group of activist teachers, or from the students themselves.

This was also shown when Governor Pat McCrory taught a policy seminar in Chapel Hill in 2019, which was accompanied by frequent statements by the faculty aiming to alienate the university from the seminary, as if exposing students to different perspectives amounted to the political science department assuming a frightening degree of responsibility.

Certain statistics further make it clear that universities, all of which receive a considerable amount of money from taxpayers, including the federal government, are not only overtly ideological projects, but are also unmistakably hostile to conservative (or even conservative) views. just not left). A 2020 Study from The Harvard Crimson determined that only 1.46% of teachers self-identified as conservative, with campaign contributions from teachers overwhelmingly flowing to the Democrats. Students from campuses across the country self-censor; freedom of expression in universities is constantly evaporating; and speakers who even remotely challenge the cherished left-wing orthodoxies yelled at or forbidden to speak.

As such, the time has come for conservatives to respond in a concrete way. There are a number of steps that universities, particularly those with right-wing presidents and boards, can take on their own. Now, instead of seeking to advance something like the quotas that a certain number of conservative professors or students demand on campus – something very much in the left’s playbook – we would prefer that universities become less political in general. This also prevents the misguided creation of oversight boards to monitor the content of teachers’ teaching, something that would be as at odds with free speech and serious academic research as some of the current forces gripping academia.

The focus should go back to teaching subjects, be it accounting, physics or history, with more attention to the actual content, rather than drifting into politics and advocacy. Moving things in this direction could even take the form of basing a portion of instructors’ compensation on student performance, with the idea that if an instructor spends his computer science class discussing race and gender, it is less. Students are likely to perform well when it comes time for a final exam that requires the construction of a computer program. This can also be helped by following the example of institutions like Drexel University in Philadelphia. that actively prioritize collaboration with industry.

Then you should focus less on “interdisciplinary” learning. This is how one or two rebel departments and activists contaminated all the other departments in the first place. Maintaining the independence and integrity of each academic department is paramount. Also, crucially, universities should not have any kind of “diversity, equity and inclusion” committees or programs. As has now become clear, these benign and good-sounding terms are simply a code to smear and exclude anyone who does not support far-left identity politics.

As universities continue to argue over terms like “equity”; diverts entire semesters discussing identity politics instead of academics; Y invite the progenitors of critical race theory to be keynote speakers, it is clear that reasonable people must back down. Conservatives, moderates, and even old-school liberals have for too long been guilty of giving up more and more ground to left-wing activists. And what starts in universities then unfolds in corporate boardrooms, medical schools, Y even the military. Meanwhile, the views of conservative students and the working and tuition-paying families they hail from are being stigmatized.

The next few decades require skilled electrical engineers, thoughtful journalists, and competent future doctors, not more activists. Although some commentators may be inclined to dismiss the possibility of even attempting to repair higher education at this point, having functional, purpose-oriented universities is an important enough goal to try one more time.

Pat McCrory was the 74th Governor of North Carolina from 2013 to 2017 and the 53rd Mayor of Charlotte from 1995 to 2009.

Erich Prince co-founded and runs the online magazine Merion West.


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