Last week, a group of students launched the Georgetown Review, a publication dedicated to the analysis of world affairs and campus news through a conservative lens. Upon hearing the news, I was glad that a group of students had stepped up to correct a notable gap in our campus media: the lack of conservative voices available to balance the liberal commentary we receive every day.
To paraphrase the editor of the Review Kevin Toohers (SFS ’17), “a conservative is as welcome at Georgetown as a waiter without a bowtie and an Oxford button-down at The Tombs.” But our campus should not be this way. Students who identify with more conservative values and who are willing to explain and defend their opinions in a rational way should not feel like outliers. Georgetown’s promise of free speech should also include an increasing diversity of thought.
The Hoya recently published an editorial supporting this position from the point of view of a liberal campus media outlet (“Diversifying Campus Discourse,” The Hoya, Oct. 21, 2016, A2). The editorial board celebrated the diversification of campus discourse and welcomed the presence of a new conservative publication in its midst.
Therefore, the arrival of a new, conservative student-run publication on our campus should be celebrated, and will hopefully encourage liberal publications to rise to the challenge set forth by the Review’s editorial board and facilitate debate between both conservatives and non-conservatives alike.
However, I want to go a step further than this and argue that, if we truly want to foster diversity of thought on our campus, we need to do more than just support conservative publications. We also need to ensure that those who dedicate their careers to teaching us about the world and shaping our critical thinking skills also span a spectrum of thought from liberal to conservative.
Georgetown is far from the only campus with a problem of lack of diversity in academia, and students and activists have taken note. The Heterodox Academy, a national group of students and teachers who adhere to the simple belief that university life requires people with diverse viewpoints and perspectives engaging in an environment of free and open discourse, collect data on the increasing homogeneity of America’s faculty.
The Academy’s data shows how American universities have always traditionally leaned left but also how, in the 15 years between 1995 and 2010, the educational institutions went from “leaning left to being almost entirely on the left.” The sharp decline of teachers who identify as moderate or conservative is a problem that should worry everyone, especially liberals, whose opinions lose value when they go unchallenged. To New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof: “when perspectives are unrepresented in discussions, when some kinds of thinkers aren’t at the table, classrooms become echo chambers rather than sounding boards — and we all lose.”
The liberal bias of academia is worrying for other reasons as well: the over-representation of liberal, moderate or independent professors belies a reality of intellectual discrimination. A 2012 study by the Association for Psychological Science found that over one in three social psychologists would discriminate against more conservative candidates when making hiring decisions.
By embracing the idea that most viewpoints have an inherent value and that active debate is a positive tool for change and progress, we avoid alienating an entire part of the student population. The field of academia should not be a synonym for liberalism; it should be a space where all thought is admitted and where everyone, bowtie and button-down or not, is welcome at The Tombs.
Annabelle Timsit is a senior in the College. USE YOUR WORDS appears every other Friday.
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