I saw today that the Dartmouth College Republicans issued an open letter to the president and trustees of Dartmouth College. As a former Williams College political science professor, I experienced the same sort of hostility and unfair treatment indicated in this open letter. My sense is that conservative students and professors are the targets of profound discrimination in much of the academic world. This letter is worth reading, in full:
It is with great sadness and the utmost disappointment that we find ourselves having to write this letter. As the Dartmouth College Republicans, we often feel discriminated against by the administration and unwelcome on this campus. As conservative students, we have often felt marginalized in this community. In light of an especially toxic campus environment, a seriously concerning incident has come to our attention: at a recent public event held on the evening of Monday, November 16, Vice Provost Inge-Lise Ameer stated, “There’s a whole conservative world out there that’s not very nice.” Furthermore, students at that meeting repeatedly violated Dartmouth’s Principle of Community by referring to conservatives by slurs such as “f***ing racists,” which Ameer did little to stop.
Unfortunately, her recent comments and actions are only the latest manifestation of a campus culture that dismisses conservative voices. We are now at the point where the vast majority of conservative students on campus do not feel comfortable expressing their views. Even self identification as a conservative can invite serious backlash. Many of us have been called bigoted, racist, and homophobic — among other epithets — for simply stating our opinions. Thus, it is especially concerning that a senior administrator would casually encourage a culture of prejudice against conservatives on this campus.
At the same public event, Vice Provost Ameer also stated, “If you’re feeling unsafe and you’re not feeling like you are getting responded to then contact me directly and we will deal with it because that is not right.” We feel unsafe, and we feel that we are not being responded to. The same resources made available to the Black Lives Matter protesters, including regular meetings with senior administrators, should be made available to conservative students on campus. An open and polite dialogue is essential to any college campus.
It is difficult enough to be a conservative on any college campus, and it is simply unacceptable that any administrator would reinforce such a hostile climate. We urge Vice Provost Ameer to condemn the actions and words of protesters and to send an open and public apology to all of campus, retracting her previous statements on conservatives and reaffirming the need to respect conservative students and their opinions.
The intellectual influence and credibility of our liberal arts colleges is being reduced to nothing because of the open hostility to conservatives and conservative thought expressed by so many staff, faculty and students at places like Dartmouth and Occidental College. Given the mistreatment of conservatives on college campuses, I think it is time to fight back, establish new institutions, or move education to a fresh, on-line model that will allow for a higher level of freedom of speech.
John C. Drew, Ph.D. is an award-winning political scientist.