Monday, June 09, 2008

"The academic world that I entered is gone."

Alan Charles Kors, a conservative intellectual historian at Penn, has written a terrific essay on the decline of academia. He describes how the campus has evolved from a place that welcomed intellectual diversity and open debate in the 1970s to one trapped in the stultifying ideological conformity of today. Dr. Kors makes abundantly clear that simply hiring a few professors of "Conservative Studies" will not do much to alter this environment:

What has changed? In terms of the university in loco parentis, which has been restored and expanded with a vengeance, the revolution has been breathtaking. For students from "the '60s" who moved into the world apart from the academy, there were adjustments to the reality principles and values of a free, dynamic and decent society. The activists of the 1960s who stayed on campus, however—in original bodies or in spirit imparted to new bodies—expected students to take them always as political and moral gurus. Students did not do so. They had the gall first to like disco, and then to like Reagan. Such students had to be saved from the false consciousness that America somehow had given them.

Thus, under the heirs of the academic '60s, we moved on campus after campus from their Free Speech Movement to their politically correct speech codes; from their abolition of mandatory chapel to their imposition of Orwellian mandatory sensitivity and multicultural training; from their freedom to smoke pot unmolested to their war today against the kegs and spirits—literal and metaphorical—of today's students; from their acquisition of young adult status to their infantilization of "kids" who lack their insight; from their self-proclaimed dreams of racial and sexual integration to their ever more balkanized campuses organized on principles of group characteristics and group responsibility; from their right to define themselves as individuals—a foundational right—to their official, imposed and politically orthodox notions of identity. American college students became the victims of a generational swindle of truly epic proportions. If that part of the faculty not complicit in this did not know that it was happening, it was by choice or willful blindness.

In the academic university—the curriculum and classroom, and the hiring that underlies them—it all varies by where one looks. To understand why and to understand one of the few vulnerabilities of universities to actual accountability and reform, one must understand the hierarchy that predicts academic institutional behavior: sexuality (in their language, "sexual preference") trumps neutrality; race properly conceived easily trumps sexuality; sex properly conceived (or, in their language, "gender") easily trumps race; and careerism categorically trumps everything. From that perspective, the careerists who run our campuses have made a Faustian bargain (though they differ on which is the devil's portion).

Please read the rest:

On the Sadness of Higher Education


Blogger said...

I note that the American Library Association's Office for Intellectual Freedom is part of the problem, not the solution. Right, Scott Savage?

2:47 PM  

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