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Want real diversity? Hire some conservatives

Illustration by Cody Angell
By Shane Dale
Arizona Summer Wildcat
Wednesday July 10, 2002

A month or so ago, I finally got around to reading Bernard Goldbergâs Bias, which had been at the top of my booklist for a long time.

The reason Bias had spent considerable time at number one on the New York Times bestseller list is that Goldberg, an award-winning CBS journalist ÷ and a liberal ÷ was writing about a liberal tilt in the broadcast media.

In Bias, Goldberg comments that it would be perfectly fine if every journalist in America leaned to the left ÷ as long as they were fair and balanced. ăIn an ideal world, we wouldnât need conservatives to balance liberals,ä he writes. ăBut obviously we donât live in an ideal world.ä

Apply the same logic to academia and youâll see the problem.

Last year, a poll taken by the Center for the Study of Popular Culture surveyed 151 Ivy League professors in the fields of journalism, social science, anthropology and economics. Here are some findings:

đEighty-four percent voted for Al Gore in the 2000 presidential election, while only 9 percent voted for George W. Bush.

đSeventy-nine percent thought Bush was ătoo conservative,ä while only 38 percent of the general American public in a coinciding Time/CNN poll felt the same way.

đThirteen percent of professors favored the use of the federal budget surplus for tax cuts, compared to 67 percent of the rest of America.

đForty percent thought reparations for slavery were a good idea, as opposed to 11 percent in the Time/CNN poll.

đAnd 71 percent of Ivy League professors disagree with the notion of a liberal media bias. Goldberg would be shocked.

A similar poll of UA staff has not been taken. But does anyone want to argue that itâs significantly different here?

There is, of course, the question of why far more liberals than conservatives are considered academics. I think itâs pretty simple: Couple left-wing, theory-oriented idealists with emotionally-driven young adults who have little real world experience, and you have an environment ÷ one of the few environments in America ÷ where the academics will truly be taken seriously.

The lack of conservative voices is no big deal to me because I already know what I believe. The problem is in dealing with those students who are still developing their minds politically. They deserve to hear both sides, and right now, theyâre not getting anything close to a proper balance.

Fortunately, not all faculty spread their bias in class. In fall 2001, I was lucky enough to have Peter Goudinoff, political science lecturer and former Arizona State Senate minority leader, for two classes. Goudinoff is also a partisan Democrat who has publicly made some very left-wing comments over the years.

But in class, Goudinoff was right down the middle. In fact, if I hadnât done a little research on the man, I would have never known where his political affiliations lied.

I wish there were more like him, but professors cut from the same cloth seem to be few and far between.

I can think of four professors Iâve had who have promoted liberal values while failing to provide a conservative point of view. Capitalism, war, defense, womenâs issues ÷ all distorted to a left-wing stance with no counter argument from the right. Yes, I do understand that some classes deal specifically with liberal ideas, but Iâm not counting those examples. I wish I were.

James Mitchell, my terrific Journalism 151 professor from last semester, pointed out that not every news story can have a bias attached to it ÷ a car wreck obviously canât be spun left or right. Similarly, not every college course deals with ideology ÷ a math problem, for example, canât have a liberal or conservative bias.

But itâs the classes in which spin can and will come into play that need to be looked at. Certainly, my major ÷ political science ÷ is at the top of that list, but itâs not the only one. Other fields, including the ones surveyed in the Ivy League poll, come into play as well.

There are conservative professors out there. I have seen them on TV. They canât be too hard to find.

When anyone on campus ÷ student, faculty, or administration ÷ brings up the word ădiversity,ä theyâre likely referring to ăliberal diversityä÷ female liberals, black liberals, gay liberals, etc. But if weâre serious about wanting some real diversity, we should get cracking on leveling out the ideological imbalance at UA.

That, for a change, would be time and money well spent.


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