Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Lack of Political Diversity at the University of Oregon Part I

Every one who knows me knows I am a big fan of the University of Oregon. I graduated from the UofO and bleed green and yellow. However, it makes me sad that the University lacks political diversity. This was true when I was a student in the 1960's and it is true today. Recently a student statistically proved the lack of political diversity in a column in the student newspaper the Oregon Daily Emerald. He writes:

Among the full-time faculty of the University departments of journalism, law, political science, sociology and economics, there are 111 registered Oregon voters. Two of them are Republicans.

That’s what I discovered last week, via the public voting terminal at the Lane County Voting Office. I spent two hours there, with a spreadsheet full of names generated from the various department Web sites. It was a laborious process, but I was in no hurry. In fact, I even took a break to eat a sandwich and muse on the gorgeous summer weather outside. There would be plenty of time to continue the long, winding procession of faculty down the screen.

When I finished, there were 98 Democrats, nine Independents, two Republicans and two members of the Pacific Green party staring back at me. Both of the two Republicans were in the School of Law, and one of them was University President Dave Frohnmayer. I wondered, as I came across his name marked red in a sea of blue, if he was aware of the monolithic politics of University faculty. Did it irk him? Did it belie the diversity standards that his tenure had ushered in? …

That’s not to say there isn’t a range of political viewpoints on campus. But those on the right of University faculty are basically Social Democrats, with the left represented by an anti-capitalism that flirts openly with Marx. When conservatism does enter the picture, it’s only as a punching bag for students and professors, a tired act that became all too frequent during the presidential election. …

As a student, I want a campus full of professors not only from different ethnic and racial backgrounds, but different political backgrounds as well. I want Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, Marxists, Independents and anyone with a halfway decent idea that doesn’t incorporate hate. That’s what true diversity means to me. I want that more than free football tickets, a new basketball arena or pretty much anything else a University could offer. In exchange for paying $20,000 in tuition a year, I think I deserve it.

Don’t you?

(Click on the title for a link to the column)

Both of my children were raised to be Ducks. However, when it came time to go to college they both at least partially chose other schools because of the lack of political diversity at the UofO. We found other good colleges such as Claremont McKenna College in Southern California and Willamette University in Salem Oregon where they received a great education in a diverse political atmosphere. At Claremont McKenna the Government Department even has some Republicans. Willamette University also has at least one in it's Political Science Department. What with scholarships these private Liberal Arts colleges were comparable in cost to the UofO.

The lack of political diversity at the University of Oregon has a chilling effect on political discussion as demonstrated by some professors response to the column quoted above. See part II below.