Ideological Litmus Test at University of Wisconsin

Mary Grabar

A colleague on the job market tells me about a posting for a lecturer in World History at the University of Wisconsin, Platteville, that, along with the usual transcripts and letters of recommendation, requires “a separate statement describing a history of working with or demonstrated commitment to addressing issues of race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, and/or other issues of historic marginalization.”  To make it even more clear that conservatives need not apply, the college’s web page advertises the fact that it is located in a “friendly, progressive community.” 

This colleague, who earned his Ph.D. in 2000, has had to cobble together a living with temporary and part-time teaching positions, even though his students have petitioned to keep him on and change majors to history after taking his classes.  

Of course, an honest statement on my colleague’s part would address discrimination against conservative, white, heterosexual males, who, as a matter of principle, feel that such statements violate rights of academic freedom, not to mention the First Amendment. But this does not fit the category of “historic marginalization”—a Marxist-inspired category if there ever was one.  

This demand of a written statement and profession of belief in an ideology crosses a threshold.  Up until now, hiring committees could obscure their reasons for rejecting candidates with vague references to “qualifications” or being a good “match.”  They would deny that ideology had any role in decision-making.     

These are the same people who complain about requirements by private, Christian colleges, like Shorter College, that employees declare adherence to Christian principles.  

Where is the AAUP on this violation, not only of academic freedom, but conscience?  

Where are the sociologists who have published “studies” presumably proving that the paucity of conservatives in academia is due their narrow-mindedness and greed?

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March 23, 2011

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