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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Ask Bobby #12
September 25, 2023

Diversity in Academia

Those who exclusively read the New York Times can be forgiven for sometimes being behind the curve.

The Gray Lady, as the paper of record is sometimes called, often has a penchant for realizing and reporting the obvious long after it’s become obvious. Like weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, which never existed. Like the situation in several parts of Iraq, which is slowly deteriorating. And like conservatives in academia, where few currently roam the hallways. Several weeks ago, the Times published an article titled “Republicans Outnumbered in Academia, Studies Find,” written by John Tierney, an “openly semi-conservative” reporter who is one of several candidates to replace President Nixon’s retiring former wordsmith William Safire on the Times’ op-ed page.

The article highlighted several studies, with one a national survey of over 1,000 academics. In it, Democratic scholars outnumber Republicans by at least a margin of seven-to-one in the humanities and social sciences. Another study had Democrats outnumbering Republicans in a nine to one ratio at Berkeley and Stanford. “That study, which included professors from the hard sciences, engineering and professional schools as well as the humanities and social sciences, also found the ratio especially lopsided among the younger professors of assistant or associate rank: 183 Democrats versus 6 Republicans,” The Times reported.

“Our colleges have become less marketplaces of ideas than churches in which you have to be a true believer to get a seat in the pews,” Stephen H. Balch, a Republican and the president of the National Association of Scholars, told the newspaper.

The article led the ancient conservative William F. Buckley to write, “The imbalance is continuing, and doesn’t much bother anybody except, perhaps, students left to ponder the asymmetries.”

The asymmetry is especially, undoubtedly, and unsurprisingly prevalent here in Massachusetts, which can be forgiven for sometimes appearing to be in its own bubble when it comes to national affairs (but is actually often ahead of the curve in both political (McGovern ’72) and legal (gay marriage) matters).

But UMass Boston seems to be taking some small steps to add a little ideological diversity to the mix. The Gaston Institute recently had as a guest speaker Gilberto Cardenas, assistant provost and director of the Center for Latino Studies at Notre Dame University. Cardenas, who says he supports the Republican Party, was one of 11 people to serve on the George W. Bush 2000 National Latino Coalition.

This week, the Trotter Institute brings in Glenn Loury, a black conservative and Boston University economics professor who has drifted leftward in recent years. Loury is expected to speak on the issue of reparations, which he is against. “Reparations makes into a contractual claim, a tort claim, what ought to be much more broadly public, and historically based civic claim,” he told a student newspaper several years ago. “The reparations claim is a quid pro quo: I was injured, make me whole.”

Much is often made about racial diversity. With recent incidents at Amherst and on our own campus, a hard look at the campuses’ racial climate is warranted. But as we talk of racial diversity, let’s not overlook its oft-forgotten sibling, ideological diversity.