A Great Trust Betrayed: The Politicization of America’s Public Campuses

Kevin Nestor

In 2008, then Ohio governor Ted Strickland said America’s public systems of higher education “strengthen our people” and “provide ideas that our [nation] needs to grow.”1 I agree that they should do this. After recently serving as a trustee of The Ohio State University at Mansfield for nine years, though, I have begun to believe that in some very important ways, they are actually undermining and doing significant harm to these essential goals.

Numerous surveys and studies show that the faculty and administrations of America’s major public campuses are, politically, well to the left of the typical American. This would not be cause for concern—or the writing of this essay—if these political preferences were merely expressed by faculty and administrators in their private activities as citizens and had no significant impact on the quality of education, programming, or scholarship taking place on our taxpayer-supported campuses. Unfortunately, this is not the case. What I saw and learned as a trustee made me aware of just how pervasive the politicization of our campuses is, and how significant and detrimental its impact. It permeates virtually every aspect of campus culture and academic and student life. Anyone with open eyes and an inquiring mind will soon find many examples of politicization, such as those described below, on most of Ohio’s and America’s public campuses:

  • A proliferation of ideologically based centers, programs, majors, and courses, many of which are taught or run by professors and staff who believe that political activism is an important part of their profession. In the great majority of cases, these taxpayer-funded activities very clearly articulate ideologies that are well to the left of America’s political spectrum. A few examples include: social work degree programs (such as Ohio State’s) that require students to abide by the National Association of Social Workers Code of Ethics, which requires social workers to be political activists for a number of left-leaning ideological causes; women’s studies programs designed to develop students into activists immersed in a radical feminist world view; gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) centers, studies, programs, and courses, many of which have a primary purpose of advocating for the positions and perspectives that the major GLBT political advocacy organizations promote, and of converting students, faculty, and staff into supporters and allies; centers that explicitly promote and support multicultural ideologies and political perspectives; and “social justice” studies, cultural studies, and peace studies programs, majors, and courses rooted in theories and teachings developed by socialist and Marxist political leaders, activists, intellectuals, and scholars.

  • The increasingly common use by professors of politically and ideologically liberal methods of teaching and pedagogy such as “social justice pedagogy” and critical theory—both based on teaching methods developed by socialist and Marxist intellectuals—that are being applied to the teaching of many subjects, particularly in the social sciences, the humanities, social work, sociology, psychology, journalism, and law. These approaches are also being incorporated into the teaching methods that elementary, middle, and high school teachers are being taught to use in our classrooms by our colleges of education. And they are even being incorporated into the methods used for teaching largely non-subjective subjects such as math.

  • The use of public funds to staff and support university sponsored centers and publications whose specific aims are to promote one side of highly controversial cultural and political issues such as multiculturalism and the normalization, mainstreaming, and full acceptance of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender sexual activity and relationships.

  • Faculty and administrator hiring, promotion, and tenure practices in which current faculty members form and select the committees that hire, evaluate, and promote their peers, and are granted similar control to determine which students will be accepted into graduate and doctoral studies. This nearly complete control of the hiring, promotion, and graduate studies admissions processes provides many opportunities for faculty to insert self-perpetuating ideological biases and selection criteria into these critically important decision-making processes.

  • Required first-year reading experience programs designed to introduce incoming freshmen to the college experience and help them bond that very often involve a book that is unmistakably liberal in its ideological point of view. This perspective naturally carries over into the lecture, guest speaker, and discussion sessions that accompany these programs.

  • Orientation and residence hall diversity training programs for incoming students that often explicitly incorporate clearly liberal ideological perspectives on socially and politically controversial issues.

  • Campus sponsored speakers, authors, presentations, films, and books featured at forums organized by university faculty and staff that are, far more often than not, politically liberal in their ideological point of view.

  • Formal speech codes on some American campuses that prohibit speech that may be considered offensive to certain groups or individuals simply because it does not comport with their point of view. Even where no formal speech code exists, other policies and programming often make it implicitly or explicitly clear that students, faculty and staff are discouraged from presenting certain viewpoints or raising certain topics for discussion for the same reason.

  • Finally, there have been numerous instances where faculty and administrators have openly discouraged the expression of viewpoints, either in class or on committees, that are not in line with their ideological perspectives. In such cases the perception (and sometimes the reality) can often be that differences expressed on such issues may lead to a student being publicly ridiculed by the faculty member or receiving a lower grade, or that speaking up may affect the job, career and promotion opportunities for faculty and staff members.

To understand the situation better, let’s look at the two related concepts of diversity and multiculturalism. At Ohio State, as at many public universities today, “celebrating” and “respecting” diversity are considered highly important goals that should be broadly incorporated into the curriculum and student programming and activities. Because the term is all-encompassing it is necessary to define what the university means by “diversity.” The preface to “A Diversity Action Plan for the Ohio State University” establishes the focus of the university’s diversity efforts:

The committee [that developed the plan]…reaffirmed that the focus of the proposed diversity plan would remain on increasing the number of women and racial/ethnic minorities and improving the campus climate for all, including persons with different sexual orientations….The work of this committee and the recommendations focus on gender, and racial and ethnic differences—the core interests of the civil and women’s rights movements of the 1960s and at the heart of the subsequent social change in this country—and on persons with same-sex orientation. This plan is, however, just the first step in a longer-term commitment to increasing diversity, in its broadest meaning, on the campus.2

And in the “Diversity Dictionary,” borrowed from the University of Maryland, that has been used at Ohio State, “diversity” is defined in this way:

A situation that includes representation of multiple (ideally all) groups within a prescribed environment, such as a university or a workplace. This word most commonly refers to differences between cultural groups, although it is also used to describe differences within cultural groups, e.g., diversity within the Asian-American culture includes Korean Americans and Japanese Americans. An emphasis on accepting and respecting cultural differences by recognizing that no one culture is intrinsically superior to another underlies the current usage of the term.3

Both documents clearly narrow the focus of what is intended by diversity at Ohio State to the areas of gender, racial, ethnic, and cultural differences, and sexual orientation.

Several years ago, the Ohio State administration directed that strategic plans be developed for each of its regional campuses and that these guiding principles for diversity be fully incorporated into these plans. In response, the May 2007 “Draft Strategic Plan” that Ohio State Mansfield’s administration and faculty and staff executive committee presented to trustees made diversity one of its highest priorities. The plan listed diversity as one of its five “Core Values” and “creating and supporting a welcoming community that celebrates, appreciates and respects diversity” as one of its seven “Guiding Principles.”4 To implement this guiding principle, more than thirty diversity-related goals and strategies were incorporated into the plan. I should add that in a later version of this draft in April 2008, many of these diversity related goals and strategies were removed from the strategic plan. The board was informed, though, that while the deleted goals and strategies no longer appeared in the plan, they continued to be action items that the campus administration and faculty intended to implement. In other words, they were deleted and not deleted at the same time.

Here are some of the goals and strategies that were listed:

  • Add courses or academic programs that enhance an appreciation of diversity

  • Integrate an examination of diversity in all aspects of the curriculum

  • Create a monthly “Diversity Day” that may involve films, speakers, and field trips

  • Offer cultural programming that examines and/or celebrates diversity throughout the year

  • Display photographs of persons who reflect diversity in common spaces on campus

  • Proceed with a Student Life Center plan that incorporates a Multicultural Center

  • Expedite the implementation of the Multicultural Action Plan and establish a policy to assess progress on the Multicultural Action Plan and Diversity Plan

  • Develop multicultural programs that celebrate our community’s diversity

  • Study the establishment of an Institute for the Study of Social Justice on campus

In addition, the plan included a diversity strategy stating that the campus will identify spaces to be devoted to underrepresented student groups. While later drafts no longer specified these underrepresented groups, the May 2007 draft of the plan specified them as GLBTQ (Gay, Lesbian, Bi-sexual, Transgender, and Questioning), Non-Christian, African American, American Indian, and Asian American.

Thus diversity can be—and is—used to justify and support the development and implementation of a wide variety of highly ideological programs, majors, courses, activities, and centers.

It is also readily apparent that Ohio State’s definition for diversity incorporates the primary tenet of multicultural ideology with its statement that “An emphasis on accepting and respecting cultural differences by recognizing that no one culture is intrinsically superior to another underlies the current usage of the term.” By definition, Ohio State’s diversity efforts incorporate the multicultural premise that all cultures are basically equal and equally deserving of acceptance and respect, and the corresponding implication that culture doesn’t matter. If this premise is false—and there are abundant examples that show that it is—it follows that diversity directives based on this definition will also be false.

A cursory examination of history and the contemporary world provides many empirically obvious examples that some cultures are far better than others at elevating the human condition and at fostering and nurturing advancing levels of individual, group, and societal health, happiness, and well-being. Examples that demonstrate this on a personal and social group level are the differences in culture between inner-city and “gangsta” culture and the traditional cultural mainstream of America. On an organizational level, it is clear that the cultures at companies like Arthur Anderson, Enron, World Com, and Lehman Brothers ultimately led to their failure and dissolution while many of their competitors thrived. On a societal level, just a few of many obvious examples of cultures that have been less successful at advancing human health, happiness, and well-being than others would include the Soviet and Maoist Communist cultures, the Nazi German culture, and the Islamist culture in Taliban Afghanistan.

These examples clearly show it is important that students learn about different cultures—not so they can celebrate, appreciate, and respect all cultures equally—but so they can better understand the impact that culture has on individuals and the greatly differing outcomes that various cultures have created for those who live in them as well as the overall effect that different cultures have had on humanity, throughout history and in today’s world. Knowing this, students can then develop the essential abilities they need to think analytically about why culture is so important, the key elements that create a culture or subculture, how these elements differ among cultures, and what elements are most important to creating cultures that elevate humanity and advance individual and societal health, happiness, and well-being. Any approach to the study of culture that discourages such serious and analytical thinking endangers the future of our society.

There is also at least one absolutely fundamental aspect of diversity that is absent from Ohio State’s diversity plan, and likely from those of most other public campuses as well. It is an essential aspect of diversity without which all of the others lose much of their value and meaning, and the one most important to the elevation of society and the fundamental purposes for which America’s publicly supported schools and universities were founded. It is diversity of perspective.

Fostering a university culture and environment that values and protects the free pursuit and dissemination of knowledge in search of truth—above all other things—and that inculcates a love of truth and learning in students and in society, is the primary mission of America’s public universities and the primary reason why Americans have historically valued these institutions so highly that they have been willing to tax themselves to support them. This great purpose and mission follows naturally from the first principles enshrined in our Bill of Rights, which affirm the natural rights of all people that are essential to the free pursuit and dissemination of knowledge and truth: freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, the right to assemble peaceably, and the right to petition the government to redress grievances. The essential good that this affirmation of our natural rights protects is diversity of perspective.

It necessarily follows that fostering a campus culture that values and encourages—above all else—the pursuit of knowledge and truth through freedom of thought, freedom of speech, freedom of inquiry, the free discussion of ideas, and critical and analytical thinking about the implications of those ideas among students, faculty, and staff is of paramount importance for America and our public colleges and universities. It also necessarily follows that these principles must be given priority over all others in every aspect of the operation of our public campuses. No ideology, no concern for personal or political sensitivity, and no political perspective should ever be allowed to trump them.

It is also important to note that diversity plans at Ohio State—and most other public campuses—fail to outline strategies for how we will foster a greater understanding of and appreciation for the many things that we Americans share in common. What we share creates the centripetal forces that build strong bonds between us and hold our society together. It is the strong center of gravity these centripetal forces create that enables the diversity of our local, state, and national populations to become a potential source of strength rather than a dangerous centrifugal force that weakens, pulls us apart, and rends our nation’s social fabric. Without acknowledging and understanding these forces—and creating strategies to build upon them—the diversity and multicultural plans and centers at our public colleges and universities will lead to further social splintering and segregation.

One Key Example

The second half of this essay takes an in-depth look at one particular issue as an example to show how the many manifestations of the politicization of our public colleges and universities can and do come together in ways that undermine diversity of perspective and the great purposes for which our public colleges and universities were founded.

One of the most visible aspects of diversity at Ohio State and most of America’s taxpayer-supported campuses is gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender sexual relationships and activity. Political issues surrounding GLBT relationships and activity are among the most divisive, controversial, and emotionally charged in America. GLBT advocacy groups and their supporters claim that the traditional perspective on sexual activity and relationships is personally and financially discriminatory—yet most Americans disagree. In the latest political typology study done by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press in 2005, Pew found that liberals were the only one of the nine distinct political types they identified that approved of legalizing marriage between people of the same sex, and did so by the overwhelming margin of more than 5 to 1, with 80 percent approving and only 15 percent opposed. In sharp contrast, among the eight other political types Pew identified, approval for marriage between people of the same sex ranged from a low of 8 percent to a high of 37 percent with the average being just 24 percent.5 A 2009 Pew survey found largely similar results.6

Despite these facts, Ohio State has made it clear that it is lending the full political weight of its taxpayer-supported educational institution to one side of this culturally important and politically divisive battle:

  • Several years ago Ohio State Mansfield held a three-day Arts & Lectures Series Forum on GLBT sexual orientation. This could have been an open and valuable dialogue on the issues that deeply divide Americans on this subject. Instead, the forum was clearly designed to support one side and to ignore or repress the other. A good example of this was a panel entitled “Social and Legal Issues of Homosexuality.” Its four panelists consisted of two lesbians, a bi-sexual man who was also the coordinator for Ohio State’s GLBT Student Services Office, and a young teenage boy whose mother is lesbian. In addition, the faculty member who organized the panel told the audience that he was gay. The only perspectives presented were those supportive of normalizing and mainstreaming GLBT sexual activity and relationships and legalizing marriage between people of the same sex. Only one event during the entire forum presented any differing viewpoints, and even on this panel two of the four panelists spoke in favor of normalizing and mainstreaming GLBT sexual activity and relationships.

  • During this same forum, it was revealed that Ohio State has been employing a paid staff of GLBT advocates at its Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Student Services Office since around 1990, and the coordinator for this office stated that he “is paid to be gay” by Ohio State. In other words, taxpayers are funding the gay advocacy work of this office, which includes organizing and promoting “National Coming Out” day, “GLBT History Month,” the “National Day of Silence,” and training on “How to Be a GLBT Ally.”

  • Several years ago, during a “How to be a GLBT Ally” session, the GLBT Student Services Office reviewed materials from Ohio State’s “Toolkit on How to be a GLBT Ally.” The only perspectives presented were those supported by GLBT advocacy groups. One topic covered was the term “homophobia,” which was defined so broadly it could easily be interpreted to mean that anyone who believes that normalizing and mainstreaming GLBT sexual activity would be detrimental to our society is a “homophobe.” Ohio State’s ally training materials also included virtually identical definitions for the terms “biphobia” and “transphobia.”

  • In the summer of 2004, the Ohio State University trustees, at the strong urging of the university administration, voted unanimously to treat same-sex partners of Ohio State faculty and staff members and graduate teaching, research, and administrative associates as though they were married couples for taxpayer subsidized and university paid health insurance benefits, which would also extend to any children that either partner may have.

  • A report commissioned in 2005 to help Ohio State Mansfield improve minority recruitment and retention stated that community leaders and stakeholders who were interviewed mentioned “that the campus embraces the GLBT community, which was cited as a positive step.”7 This was a major misrepresentation. Eight of the ten “community leaders and stakeholders” interviewed were Ohio State Mansfield employees. The campus leadership never corrected this misrepresentation.

  • A real low point demonstrating Ohio State Mansfield’s intolerance for true diversity occurred when Scott Savage, a campus library official serving on the campus’s first-year reading experience committee, proposed several conservative books for students to read, including The Marketing of Evil, which presents a strongly negative view of the marketing methods used to promote the gay cause.8 As a result of this, a faculty committee, by a vote of 21 to 0 with 9 abstentions, charged him with sexual harassment. After this vote was rescinded, apparently due to procedural issues, a complaint was then filed against Mr. Savage for harassment based on sexual orientation.

  • For its Distinguished Diversity Speaker event in fall 2007 Ohio State Mansfield sponsored a presentation by University of Michigan professor Dr. David Halperin entitled “Plato’s Theory of Erotic Desire.” The materials advertising the event promoted Dr. Halperin as a distinguished Plato and classical scholar. It was not advertised that Dr. Halperin is Professor of the History and Theory of Sexuality at Michigan, teaches a literature and culture course entitled “How to Be Gay: Male Homosexuality and Initiation” (English 317), is the author of One Hundred Years of Homosexuality and Other Essays on Greek Love (Routledge, 1990), How to Do the History of Homosexuality (University of Chicago Press, 2002), and How to Be Gay: Male Homosexuality as a Cultural Practice (forthcoming ), or that he edited The Lesbian and Gay Studies Reader (Routledge, 1993).

  • During university-sponsored GLBT Awareness Weeks at Ohio State in January 2008, the GLBT Student Services Office sponsored a public art exhibit on the Columbus and Mansfield campuses entitled “In Our Family: Portraits of all Kinds of Families.” Promotional materials for the exhibit stated that one of its purposes is to teach that every family should be celebrated and the display included numerous photos designed to celebrate same-sex relationships. The exhibit was created by the Massachusetts-based Family Diversity Projects, whose advisory board includes members from the Family Pride Coalition, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, the author of The Lesbian and Gay Parenting Handbook, the author of Heather Has Two Mommies, and both the director and the producer of It’s Elementary, a film that educates teachers about ways to teach kindergarten and elementary school children about GLBT sexuality.9

  • Other programs at Ohio State in Columbus during GLBT Student Services Awareness Weeks included “Safe Sex between Women,” “The B Word: Bisexuality,” and a drag show at the Stonewall Center. In addition, the Social Justice Cohort, part of the Ohio State Multicultural Center, sponsored “Social Justice Cohort Discussions” entitled “Homophobia/Biphobia/Civil Rights” and “Personal Accounts/Becoming an Ally.” (In 2008, Ohio State’s website indicated that the Social Justice Cohort “critically analyzes issues of privilege and oppression.” In 2011, Ohio State’s website says that cohort members “expand their knowledge” on social justice issues such as “racism, sexism, heterosexism, and classism.”)10

My final examples come from other public universities in Ohio.
  • In May 2008 at the University of Toledo, Crystal Dixon, a black woman serving as the university’s interim Associate Vice President for Human Resources, wrote a letter objecting to an op-ed in the Toledo Free Press that equated discriminating against someone because they have black skin with disapproving of a person’s gay sexual activity. University president Lloyd Jacobs published a letter in Toledo’s largest paper, The Blade, repudiating Ms. Dixon for this opinion. A short while later, he fired her.

  • The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) Center at Ohio University in Athens publishes a university-sponsored newsletter called OUTwrite: Totally Gay and Then Some. The lead headline in the November 2007 issue was “Buying from the Enemy.” In this article, OUTwrite encourages readers and consumers to stop buying from companies considered “not-so-LGBT-friendly” because they have corporate policies that are more in line with traditional societal perspectives on marriage, sexuality, and relationships, and because LGBT advocates do not believe that these companies do enough financially to contribute to, support, and promote the goals and work of LGBT advocates. Instead of dialogue or argument, the instinct shown here is to create a list of “enemies” to be punished, including Toys “R” Us, Rubbermaid, Domino’s Pizza, Heinz, Cracker Barrel, and Wal-Mart.

  • Many public universities also use taxpayer, tuition, and student activity fee dollars to sponsor officially sanctioned programs designed to undermine and discredit traditional sexual mores among students, faculty, and staff. In February 2009, the University of Cincinnati held Sexploration Week, which included programs entitled “America’s War on Sex: The Attack on Law, Lust, and Liberty,” “Pizza and Porn,” and “Got the Hookup?” Also presented was a program entitled “The Naked Truth: Frequently Asked Questions about Sexuality,” run by Pure Romance, an “in-home party” purveyor of sex products and the corporate sponsor for Sexploration Week. Their corporate website said their educational programs are “introducing Pure Romance to all walks of college-life, including classrooms, social groups, and even the traditional Greek community,” and that they have put these programs on at other universities including Ohio State, Indiana, Purdue, Michigan, and Kentucky, and that they have sponsored Sex Week at Yale and participated in Sex Out Loud at Illinois, Sex on the Beach at Indiana University Southeast, Sex Fest at the University of Wisconsin, and Sex Week at Northwestern University.11

Those familiar with the work of the leading GLBT advocacy organizations will recognize just how closely these examples fit with many of the specific political advocacy and campaign strategies that GLBT advocates have been pursuing for the past twenty years or so.

The most comprehensive, and probably the most well thought-out and influential presentation of these strategies is to be found in After the Ball: How America Will Conquer Its Fear & Hatred of Gays in the 90’s (Plume, 1989), by Marshal Kirk and Hunter Madsen. After the Ball makes a strong and arresting case for the comprehensive “propagandistic advertisement” campaign that the authors propose to help GLBT advocates achieve their political goals.

The heart of this campaign consists of three powerful psychological approaches for influencing and shaping human behavior and perceptions to the advantage of GLBT advocates and their agenda, and six specific campaign strategies that incorporate these approaches.

Three Psychological Approaches

Desensitization

Kirk and Madsen say desensitization “aims at lowering the intensity of antigay emotional reactions to a level approximating sheer indifference.”12 According to the authors, “We can extract the following principle for our campaign: to desensitize straights to gays and gayness, inundate them in a continuous flood of gay-related advertising, presented in the least offensive fashion possible. If straights can’t shut off the shower they may at least get used to being wet.”13

Jamming

As the authors describe it, “Jamming attempts to blockade or counteract the rewarding ‘pride in prejudice’ (peace, Jane Austen!) by attaching to homohatred a pre-existing, and punishing, sense of shame in being a bigot, a horse’s ass, and a beater and murderer….Thus, propagandistic advertisement can depict homophobic and homohating bigots as crude loudmouths and assholes—people who say not only ‘faggot’ but ‘nigger,’ ‘kike,’ and other shameful epithets—who are ‘not Christian.’ It can show them being criticized, hated, shunned. It can depict gays experiencing horrific suffering as the direct result of homohatred—suffering of which even most bigots would be ashamed to be the cause.”14

Conversion

“Both Desensitization and Jamming…are mere preludes to our highest—though necessarily very long-range—goal, which is Conversion.”15 But the authors warn: “Please don’t confuse Conversion with political Subversion. The word ‘subversion’ has a nasty ring, of which the American people are inordinately afraid—and on their guard against. Yet, ironically, by Conversion we actually mean something far more profoundly threatening to the American Way of Life, without which no truly sweeping social change can occur. We mean conversion of the average American’s emotions, mind, and will, through a planned psychological attack, in the form of propaganda fed to the nation via the media.”16 “The bigot,” they continue,

who holds a very negative stereotypic picture, is repeatedly exposed to literal picture/label pairs, in magazines, and on billboards and TV of gays—explicitly labeled as such!—who…are carefully selected to look like…the kind of people he already likes and admires. This image must…be carefully tailored to be free of absolutely every element of the widely held stereotypes of how “faggots” look, dress, and sound….The objection will be raised—and raised, and raised—that we would “Uncle Tommify” the gay community; that we are exchanging one false stereotype for another equally false; that our ads are lies; that that is not how all gays actually look; that gays know it, and bigots know it. Yes, of course—we know it, too. But it makes no difference that the ads are lies; not to us, because we are using them to ethically good effect.17

The Six Propaganda Campaign Strategies for Putting These Psychological Approaches into Successful Action

The psychological approach most associated with each strategy is noted parenthetically:

  • Talk about gays and gayness as loudly and as often as possible. (Desensitization)

  • Portray gays as victims, not as aggressive challengers. (Jamming)

  • Make the victimizers look bad. (Jamming)

  • Give homosexual protectors a just cause. (Jamming and Conversion)

  • Make gays look good. (Conversion)

  • Get funds from corporate America. (The goal here is to raise the money required to implement the large propaganda campaign needed for Desensitizing, Jamming, and Converting “the average American’s emotions, mind, and will, through a planned psychological attack, in the form of propaganda fed to the nation via the media.”)18

It’s not difficult to see how the many GLBT campus activities described in this essay fit into at least one of the three psychological approaches and six propaganda campaign strategies prescribed in After the Ball.

And keep in mind that these examples are all from just one issue out of many in which this level of politicization is taking place on campus.

In America, many diverse points of view are held on a wide variety of controversial issues. In a free and self-governing society such as ours, it is the highest responsibility of our public universities to do all they can to ensure that their policies and practices provide our student citizens with the forums and opportunities they need to study all important perspectives on controversial issues—presented in a fair and balanced manner—so they can develop the reasoned capacity to consider, analyze, and critique differing points of view, and the ability to determine for themselves what they believe to be in the best interests of society on these issues.

For university trustees, the public trust they hold goes well beyond their responsibilities to any one campus or university. Trustees hold an even higher trust to their students, to the parents who are paying for the education of their sons and daughters, to the taxpayers whose taxes help pay for that education, to their states and our nation as a whole, and to all those whose lives will be affected—either positively or negatively—by the education that students at their institution receive and the future actions their graduates will take as a result of that education. If trustees fail to fully address the politicization of our public campuses, in all of its many manifestations, their failure would be a clear violation and betrayal of the great public trust they have been given.

What I saw and learned during nine years as a trustee has convinced me that the politicization of the curriculum, programming, and scholarship on our nation’s public campuses is indisputably real and systemic—and that it is gravely detrimental to the fundamental purposes for which our public colleges and universities were founded, and to the well-being of our nation and its citizens. I cannot in good conscience stand idly by while this politicization continues to grow and to fester. Can you?

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