Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The College Fix Asks About My Time as a Token Conservative at Williams College

As you may know, Williams College is in the news this week because radical students on campus successfully prevented the appearance of an anti-feminist speaker, Suzanne Venker. Venker is a fixture on Fox News and is the author of a number of compelling, common sense books including The War on Men and The Flipside of Feminism. 

Since I still pay attention to news about Williams College by checking in on the entirely unrelated Ephblog, I had an on-line, ringside seat as students, faculty and alumni battled out the intricate details of protecting young people from the apparently horrific physically and emotionally dangerous consequences of simply anticipating Venker's appearance on campus.

Given the over-the-top craziness of the resistance to Venker's speech, I did an interview with the editor of the The College Fix regarding my take on what it was like to be the token conservative at Williams College in the 1980's. The title of the article is "Former Williams College professor speaks out: Campus hostile toward conservatives for decades" and here is the link:

It has been a while since I was in the public eye and I was clearly a little rusty. Nevertheless, I am reminded of the large extent to which Thomas Sowell's book, A Conflict of Visions, helped me better understand not only the extreme hostility of the left to conservative thought, but also why being a college professor itself became less interesting to me as I became more conservative. Since leftists believe that human beings are incredibly frail and malleable they are much more protective of the young. This is why the left is always in the business of policing our language, calling attention to our conscious and unconscious biases, and hypersensitive to anything that even looks like a critique of their views. Since people are so easily harmed by free speech, the left has virtually no tolerance for it.

From the conservative perspective, however, our success is largely due to genetic factors which are immune from the impact of language, ideology or even teaching. If success is mainly due to genetics, then it is silly to get overly concerned about whether or not someone feels included in Halloween or not.

While I still enjoy teaching adults at my grant writing workshops or undergraduates, at times, at nearby Soka University, I found I completely lost interest in teaching young people within a year or two at Williams College. Since I was confident that my Williams College students would succeed with or without me, I was completely okay with leaving the teaching field entirely. In fact, the lure of big money in the real estate world was more than enough to cause me to resign from Williams College in 1989.

Nevertheless, I do miss the great things conservative students did on the Williams campus in the late  1980's. They set up a conservative student newspaper that allowed them to present their ideas in an uncensored fashion. They set of a conservative television show on the local public access station that taught them how to appear on camera and in debates. They even set up a conservative talk radio program in which I occasionally helped with voice overs and sound effects.

I sincerely expect that the current attention devoted to the plight of students with non-conforming thoughts reaches the general public. I think more should be aware of how intellectual diversity would improve the quality of the academic research being done at places like Williams College. At the very least, no one should invest in Williams College as a donor until conservatives are allowed to speak freely and criticize affirmative action, feminism, and the considerable dangers of leftist thought.

John C. Drew, Ph.D. is an award-winning political scientist.

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