Diary

Reforming Academia Starts With The States

Meeting in the Tumwater High School gymnasium Monday, Sept. 17, 2018, in Tumwater, Wash. Black Hills High School teacher Matt Bell leads a jubilant group of his fellow educators in the Neil Diamond song "Sweet Caroline" as they celebrate a 98% ratification of their new two-year contract with the district. (Steve Bloom/The Olympian via AP)

Academia is broken and needs reform. Much of higher education is thoroughly corrupted by ideology and groupthink, including the STEM Departments, and instead of educated, well-rounded national and global citizens and scholars, are churning out mindlessly chanting, self-righteous, totalitarian and censorious ignoramuses.

Clearly, just waiting for employment and taxation {chortle} to rectify so many years of maleducation and indoctrination is not a solution. Therefore, more active measures are needed.

This means Republican Governors and State Legislatures with GOP majorities unapologetically setting about breaking up the Left-Wing indoctrination fiefdoms that have been established in their state owned colleges and university systems.

The David French approach of “gentle persuasion” is not going to work here because the most dominant segments of academia rejects such niceties as instruments of “oppression”. So it’s bull in a china shop time. Sometimes a structure is so compromized that demolition and rebuilding is the only option.

Simply put, the Economics Department at the University of North Dakota should not have seven Marxists, three communists, four liberal Democrats and one Republican Professor (Emeritus). The Literature Department at the University of Utah should not have zero Republican members or every single member’s research focused on sexuality, race and gender.

It is the responsibility of legislators to ensure that taxpayer money is spent judiciously. With this in mind, it is not only entirely appropriate, but an affirmative duty for legislators to question the value, and the very existence of pseudo-disciplines like Gender Studies, Feminist Biology, Critical Race Theory, etc.

They should conduct a deep dive inquiry into these so-called academic disciplines; the curriculum, the texts, assignments, jargon, etc. Hold hearings with the professors, students, critics, etc. Is there any way of validating what is being taught, in the real world? Is it even comprehensible? Does it provide any marketable skills to its students?

If not, there should be no hesitation in defunding these pseudo-disciplines, and insisting that if the university intends to keep offering them, they must use money specifically raised for them outside of public funds or tuition fees.

University presidents, provosts, deans, faculty and department heads should be called before the legislature and required to affirm and reaffirm their dedication to the values of merit, objectivity, empiricism, rigor, non-discrimination, freedom of speech and pluralism.

And then they need to explain and justify, with documentation, the ideological imbalance of their institution. To be blunt, if over 75% of a state university’s professors in a state as Republican as Utah are Democrats, then the burden of proof is on them to prove the lack of a de facto policy of discrimination.

They will need to bring records of every hiring and tenure decision made, including lists of applicants, and the scoring criteria they used to winnow down to their eventual choice for every professor employed by the University.

Ultimately, University leaders will be forced to ideologically diversify their teaching staff dramatically within the academic year. If this means foregoing other capital projects, extra-curricular activities, even letting go of administrators, then so be it.

Where the subject matter is actually useful but genuinely controversial, particularly in the Humanities and Social Sciences, it is essential that a true advocate is employed to provide the other side.

Regular surveys of the campus climate for free speech and inquiry and reports on disciplinary procedures against students and faculty involving non-criminal activity should also be mandated to ensure punishments are not being levied on the sly against non-conforming individuals.

Furthermore, going forward, University hiring processes – for both faculty and Administration – must be based on objective measurable criteria to the fullest extent possible, and their hiring deliberations should also be henceforth made public for the perusal of the people who pay their salaries.

A good idea is to include external parties to participate in the vetting of these hiring decisions – including alumni and other qualified members of the taxpaying public in a manner similar to jury duty. If a candidate’s portfolio of work is a mish-mash of incomprehensible, intersectional jargon, it is far less likely to impress the ordinary person than the faculty lounge.

Shrieks about the loss of academic freedom would certainly ensue. The AAUP, ACLU, etc. will be full-throated in opposition. Professors and Administrators will threaten to resign. Students will protest and riot. Lawsuits will be filed in friendly (i.e. Democrat-appointed) Federal Judges’ courtrooms.

Progressives in charge of University rankings will threaten to drop the state’s institutions down to the bottom, and attempts will be made to rescind accreditations.

The media will trash the state; CNN, MSNBC, and major newspapers all over the country will blare out headlines like; “North Dakota Republicans: Black Students Don’t Belong In Our Universities”. And many of the titans of progressive corporate America will level threats and echo the inevitable charges of “racism”, “sexism”, “homophobia”, “white supremacy”, etc.

This, when media and corporate power show up slinging smears and ultimatums, is usually when Republican politicians lose their nerve and cave to the baying mob. Precisely when courage is most required.

Courage will allow a Governor or Legislative leader to see this as a political opportunity. For example, I firmly believe Pat McCrory would be finishing up his second term as Governor if he had responded to the corporate threats against NC’s transgender bathroom ban legislation with a defiant “Who the hell do you think you are?!”

This means, all offers by Administrators and Faculty to resign in response, should be accepted with all due speed, even if the professor is a STEM Nobel Prize winner – the graveyards are full of indispensable men (and women). All students who wish to drop out should be allowed to do so with minimum fuss, along with their course credits and tuition fees.

This presents a valuable opportunity to bring down the exploding costs of administrators on college campuses and even allow a funding formula that puts limits on the number of administrative and teaching staff versus the number of students.

To be clear; the claims about the loss of “academic freedom” by shrieking professors and administrative staff will be thoroughly disingenuous and should be openly dismissed as such using the copious prima facie evidence that their hiring decisions clearly and heavily involve ideological litmus tests. Academic freedom cannot exist in such an environment.

Second, the point needs to be made that the state’s taxpayers expect their universities to uphold the values of merit, objectivity, freedom of speech, empiricism, rigor, non-discrimination and pluralism, not to be turned into stultifying politically correct indoctrination centres. That’s when to announce that private schools receiving taxpayer funding and tax exemptions are also expected to uphold those same values.

So this is about *returning* academic freedom to higher education on behalf of the people who pay for these institutions.

The final point to make is that academia has clearly proven that it cannot be trusted to police itself, that the professoriat cannot be trusted to safeguard academic freedom, and therefore, like in every other institution in America, checks and balances are needed on behalf of taxpayers and, ultimately the students themselves.

Being exposed to only one side of the story is being manipulated, not educated.