Thursday, November 19, 2015

Up Dates: How About Some Free Speech? My Response to Oxy Protesters' Demands

Oxy sociology professor Lisa Wade
claimed that it was horrifying 
to see a booklet on how to confront
a liberal professor. No
conservatives welcome here.
Since students at Occidental College seldom, if ever, hear from a conservative political science professor, I
thought it would be a public service to respond to their demands. I'll do so from my independent perspective. This will be, I expect, a useful example of uncomfortable learning.

Demand #1 Immediate removal of president Veitch.

This demands appear to be completely feckless. Veitch has the support of the Board of Trustees. He is not going anywhere. By any measure he has outperformed the previous affirmative action presidents including a hopelessly incompetent female president and a rude, divisive black president. Veitch could have every protester removed from the campus and dismissed from the school and I don't think any of us would think the less of him. When student protester's over-the-top demands lose the support of even staunch liberals, I think it is fair to say they are done.

Demand #2 Promotion of the Chief Diversity Officer to Vice President level.

Yawn. What is a chief diversity officer anyways? It is generally a weak, symbolic figure who has little purpose except to give die-hard liberals the sense they are accomplishing something. The whole role is a waste of money that adds nothing of value to the educational process. What might make sense, however, is to appoint an Intellectual Diversity Officer (IDO). They would investigate charges of liberal bias among faculty members including Caroline Heldman and Lisa Wade. The IDO would be responsible for protecting freedom of speech on campus, making sure that conservative students and faculty were not subject to discrimination in any manner including hiring practices. Ideologically, the faculty should reflect the basic political divides in the nation. At least half the faculty members, for example, should be Republican. I can't think of anything that would more dramatically improve the quality of education at Oxy than hiring and promoting the most competent conservatives to all available jobs on campus.

Demand #3 Increase the budget of the CDO office by 50%.

The problem with this demand is what do you cut and who do you harm in the process. The protesters never tell us how to pay for this. Maybe Veitch could take a $50,000 pay cut to fund the CDO? Better yet, make the protester's pay for this if they want it so much. Each of them could pay an extra $500 in their tuition bill. If they aren't willing to pay for this out of their own pockets, then it is probably a waste of money for all students to pay for it.

Demand #4 $60,000 allocated to DEB to fund programming and provide resources for black and other marginalized students.

The Diversity & Equity Board is an official student-led branch of the Associated Students of Occidental College. It is supposedly focused on empowerment and improved conditions for structurally marginalized groups. To an outside observer like me, however, it looks like a slush fund for a small group of liberal students to spend as they please. Really, it is more efficient for them to spend their own money. I might support this if an equal amount was given to conservative students on campus. Since the major problem at Oxy is a lack of intellectual diversity, I think $60,000 would go a long way in righting the ideological balance on campus. This fund would pay for visits of prominent, articulate conservatives such as Suzanne Venker.

Demand #5 Creation of a fully funded and staffed Black Studies program, a demand that has not been met for over 40 years.

This looks like another, wasteful, adventure in identity politics. It is difficult for me to understand what sort of job you get after you graduate as a black studies major. In my experience, these Black Study programs end up being a way to get unqualified black professors on campus. The problem is everyone knows that they are unqualified so that sort of defeats the point of have more examples of black academics on campus. Overtime, I'm sure the black family will strengthen and more black families will produce scholars worthy of teaching at Occidental College. In the meantime, however, it seems silly and counter productive to artificially increase the number of black faculty on campus by creating a new, black only niche occupation.

Demand #6 Increase percentage of tenured faculty of color by 20% for the 2017-2018 school years, and by 100% over the next 5 years.

As long as black culture devalues fatherhood and disciplined education, we should not expect it to produce a greater number of black academics, certainly not enough who would be capable of holding their own at places like Occidental College. Oxy is already less prestigious and less elite than when I attended it. At that time, weaker female professors were replacing better qualified male professors. I don't think the school is doing itself any favors by adding unqualified or less qualified faculty members simply because they are black. It is feckless to blame racism for issues which are almost entirely due to structural weaknesses in black culture and the consequences of black identity politics.

Demand #7 Provide funding for Harambee, the student group for black men which has not received funding in 5 years. This seems like a waste of money. Plenty of black men would do better if they attended schools that were a correct match with their level of preparation. Thanks to affirmative action, too many of them end up at places were they are guaranteed to have lower GPA's, fail and drop out. The problems they face are a by-product of affirmative action. Get rid of the special treatment and the black men who remain will be more than able to hold their own.

Demand #8 Institute mandatory training for all college employees, especially Residential Education, Student Affairs, and Campus Safety, that provides tools to properly assist people from marginalized backgrounds. Again, this just seems silly. What exactly are these special "tools." If someone could explain to me what special tools need to be used with people from marginalized backgrounds, then I might be in favor of this. Otherwise, it looks like another waste of time and money.

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

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