In recent decades American higher education has come under the sway of ideologically driven activists who seek to replace traditional liberal arts education with progressive political activism. They have eviscerated the core curriculum, through which students once took systematic survey courses in history, philosophy, English, mathematics, the sciences, and foreign languages, and have imposed on colleges a new core curriculum centered around social justice, diversity, sustainability, multiculturalism, and “civic engagement.”
This new core curriculum seeks to impose a comprehensive, one-dimensional political ideology on students, which leaves little room for debate and forecloses the open-ended search for truth. It is antithetical to intellectual freedom and contrary to the fundamental purposes of higher education.
Politicization also affects the status of external speakers at institutions of higher education. Colleges and universities invite a large number of speakers from outside their campuses. These invited speakers do not have the formal protections currently extended to students and faculty, but academic freedom depends on the extension of these rights to speakers. It also depends on measures to ensure that colleges and universities invite an intellectually diverse array of speakers so as to maximize intellectual freedom.
Speaker fees and honoraria are also vulnerable to corrupt abuse. Ideologically homogenous administrators and faculties direct considerable sums of money to like-minded politicians and activists as speakers, and thus convert higher education budgets into a patronage machine. The federal government should take all practical steps to inhibit the use of speaker fees and honoraria as political patronage.
Congress should work to reverse all aspects of the politicization of higher education.
Mandate Intellectual Diversity
Congress should make intellectual diversity protection a condition of Title IV eligibility.
Legislative Language: Add to 20 USC §1087c. (Selection of institutions for participation and origination) a subsection mandating that public colleges and universities:
- establish procedures and institutions to encourage intellectual diversity, within and without the classroom, in hiring procedures, course requirements, administrative procedures, extracurricular events, debates, and lectures;
- define “intellectual diversity” as “multiple, divergent, and opposing perspectives on an extensive range of public policy issues widely-discussed and debated in society at large, with particular attention to ensuring that institutions provide students and faculty the opportunity to hear perspectives on widely debated public policy issues that reflect the range of American opinion, but which are otherwise poorly represented or unheard on campus”;
- not redefine concepts such as “diversity,” “equity,” and “inclusion” as “intellectual diversity,” or engage in any action which presumes that “diverse” membership in different identity or ethnic groups in any way satisfies the requirements for “intellectual diversity”;
- not use political and ideological litmus tests in any hiring, promotion, and admissions decisions, including “diversity statements” and any other requirement that applicants describe their commitments to concepts such as allyship, diversity, social justice, sustainability, systemic racism, gender identity, equity, or inclusion, or to any ideology that classifies individuals within identity groups, divides identity groups into oppressed and oppressors, and prescribes advantages, disadvantages, or segregation based upon identity group membership, or to any other ideology, principle, concept, or formulation that requires commitment to any belief or policy that is the subject of political controversy.
- not make any hiring, promotion, or admissions process or decision that shall encourage, discourage, require, or forbid students, faculty, or administrators to endorse, assent to, or publicly express a given ideology, political stance, or view of social policy; or use a “diversity statement,” or any other assessment of applicants’ commitments to concepts such as allyship, diversity, social justice, sustainability, systemic racism, gender identity, equity, or inclusion, in any hiring, promotion, or admissions process or decision.
- not make any process or decision regulating conditions of work or study, such as committee assignments, course scheduling, or workload adjustment policies, that shall encourage, discourage, require, or forbid students, faculty, or administrators to endorse, assent to, or publicly express a given ideology, political stance, or view of social policy.
- not charge student organizations security fees on the basis of the content of speech, including for events whose content the university deems “controversial” or otherwise might require extra security;
- not endorse, oppose, or comment on policy positions concerning issues such as climate change, electoral politics, foreign policy, federal or state diversity programs, immigration policy, or marriage policy, although it may endorse Congress’ actions when it declares war or establishes another state of armed hostility against a foreign power;
- not engage in or abet activities such as boycotts, divestments, or sanctions;
- not define “bias” to include any expressed judgment on any policy position, or any expressed judgment on the characteristics of any individual or community based upon actual or perceived background or identity including: age, color, disability, gender identity or expression, marital status, national origin, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, or veteran status;
- not take any action to record, sanction, provide care, educate, mediate, conduct proactive outreach, assess, plan, provide “accountability,” or any other action to respond to any expression or incident of “bias,” which consists of any expressed judgment on any policy position, or any expressed judgment on the characteristics of any individual or community based upon actual or perceived background or identity including: age, color, disability, gender identity or expression, marital status, national origin, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, or veteran status;
- inform all students and employees of the institution’s mandate to provide intellectual diversity; and
- require the Board of Trustees to certify annually either 1) that the university has respected all faculty and student intellectual diversity rights; or 2) that the university has violated faculty and/or student intellectual diversity rights, and that it has begun work to provide restitution for that violation, and ensure that no such violation recurs.
Sunset the Diversity Bureaucracy
Congress should require recipient colleges and universities to draft plans to close diversity, equity, and inclusion offices upon meeting specific goals.
Legislative Language: Add a subsection to 20 USC §1087c. (Selection of institutions for participation and origination) requiring colleges and universities, as a condition of Title IV eligibility,
- to draft set, quantifiable targets for diversity, equity, and inclusion. Colleges and universities must define the mission of any offices and staff positions devoted to diversity, equity, and inclusion in quantifiable terms, so that the office and positions are automatically discontinued when those targets are achieved.
Defund Irredeemably Politicized Components of Higher Education
Congress should defund components of higher education that have become irredeemably politicized, such as “service-learning,” “community service,” and “sustainability,” which have become euphemisms for social justice advocacy.
Legislative Language: Congress should
- add a subsection to 20 U.S.C. § 1011m.(Certification regarding the use of certain Federal funds) stating: “No funds disbursed by the Department of Education may fund, facilitate, or in any way support any “Service-learning,” “Service-learning Coordinator,” or “Service Sponsor,” as defined in 42 U.S.C. § 12511(40, 41, 42) (Definitions: Service-learning, Service-learning Coordinator, Service Sponsor).
- delete 20 U.S.C. § 1087–53(b)(2)(A) (Grants for Federal work-study programs, Community service): “for fiscal year 2000 and succeeding fiscal years, an institution shall use at least 7 percent of the total amount of funds granted to such institution under this section for such fiscal year to compensate students employed in community service, and shall ensure that not less than 1 tutoring or family literacy project (as described in subsection (d) of this section) is included in meeting the requirement of this subparagraph, except that the Secretary may waive this subparagraph if the Secretary determines that enforcing this subparagraph would cause hardship for students at the institution; and”;
- delete 20 U.S. Code § 1161u (Sustainability planning grants authorized), which authorizes “grants to eligible entities to establish sustainability programs to design and implement sustainability practices, including in the areas of energy management, greenhouse gas emissions reductions, green building, waste management, purchasing, transportation, and toxics management, and other aspects of sustainability that integrate campus operations with multidisciplinary academic programs and are applicable to the private and government sectors.”
Rescind Service-Learning Authorization
Legislative Language: Congress should delete 42 U.S.C. § 12511 (40, 41, 42) (Definitions: Service-learning, Service-learning Coordinator, Service Sponsor).
Dedicate Civics Funding to Classroom Instruction
Congress should ensure that students learn civics as factual knowledge in the classroom, not as “civic engagement,” which is pedagogically ineffective and all too often replaces genuine civic education with political activism.
Legislative Language: Congress should
- add to 20 U.S.C. § 1003 (Additional definitions) the following definition for “Civics Education”: “Classroom instruction in American history, American government, or the history of Western civilization, which includes no ‘Service-learning,’ as defined by 20 U.S. Code § 1003(18).”
- delete 20 U.S.C. §1087–57. (Additional funds to conduct community service work-study programs), which authorizes the use of federal work-study funds for community service-learning.
Mandate Speaker Intellectual Diversity
Congress should make speaker intellectual diversity a condition of Title IV eligibility.
Legislative Language: Add to 20 USC §1087c. (Selection of institutions for participation and origination) a subsection mandating that colleges and universities:
- seek out intellectual diversity in invited speakers;
- provide evidence that they have integrated the intellectual diversity mandate into their programmatic structure.
Require Disclosure of Speaker Fees and Honoraria
Congress should require colleges to disclose their speaker fees and honoraria.
Legislative Language: Add to 20 U.S.C. § 1015 (Improvements in market information and public accountability in higher education) a subsection mandating that colleges and universities:
- disclose and distribute annually, both to the Department of Education and to all enrolled students, on a reasonably accessible Internet website, a complete list of all speaker fees, honoraria, and other emoluments in excess of $5,000.
- Federal Legislation
- General Principles
- Title IV Federal Funds Eligibility
- Federal Student Aid
- Rigorous Academic Standards
- Title IX Due Process Protections
- Freedom to Learn
- De-Politicizing Campuses
- America's National Interest
- Educational Variety
- Equal Opportunity
- Education Department Procedures
- College Board Donate Join