Best-selling author Ann Coulter (Cornell, class of ’85) once referred to the academy as “an odd cul-de-sac outside of reality.” During the last 35 years, Cornell has certainly earned that reputation. We have seen armed building takeovers, antiwar riots, newspaper burnings, anti-American demonstrations, and a left-wing siege of the faculty. The end result has been an undeniable decline in educational quality. Unless Cornell commits itself to intellectual diversity and racial integration, this institution will end up on the ash heap of academic history.
The 1969 armed takeover of Willard Straight Hall was a pivotal moment in the history of this institution. By rewarding lawlessness and indulging riotous hooligans, Cornell’s administration stuck a knife in the heart of academic freedom. The criminals were appeased with pledges of a racially segregated dormitory, more Affirmative Action and an expanded Africana studies department. Each of these promises has had reverberations that continue to plague Cornell today.
In a policy that would make George Wallace smile, Cornell actively encourages the racial segregation of its student body. While publicly proclaiming to love “racial diversity” and “multiculturalism,” the administration has set up dormitories that separate students by race like the Latino Living Center (LLC) for Hispanic students, Ujamaa Residential College for Black students, and Akwe:kon for American Indians.
Each of these dormitories fosters an environment of ethnic tribalism and group identity. Students living there are taught to believe that America is a fatally flawed racist nation and socialist revolution is necessary to achieve a just society. In the most simple terms, the LLC, Ujamaa, and Akwe:kon are indoctrination centers, where students are programmed with a far-leftist, anti-American ideology.
The result of Cornell’s overt policy of racial segregation has been tragic. There is far too little interracial communication, far too much ethnic tension and a constant “us-versus-them” mentality that pervades the campus. In spite of efforts by The New York Civil Rights Coalition to help Cornell integrate our campus a few years ago, the administration has chosen to defend segregation to the hilt.
In addition to racial segregation, Affirmative Action continues to plague our university. Cornell continues to hold Black, Hispanic, and American Indian applicants to lower academic standards than Whites and Asians. Administrators doggedly refuse to release students’ SAT scores by race because they know that such information would reveal that many students accepted to Cornell are unqualified to be here.
Racial preferences divide the campus in two ways. First, they create resentment among Whites and Asians, who know that they had to work harder and achieve a higher level of academic success than their fellow blacks, Hispanics, and Indian classmates. Second, racial preferences instill an inferiority complex among racial minorities and reinforce a mythical “culture of oppression.” The hiring of one of America’s most well known proponents of racial preferences, Jeffrey Lehman (class of ’77), as the university’s eleventh president, has only exacerbated the racial problems Cornell faces.
Ethnic studies programs — including the Africana studies department and the Latino studies program — were created to give academic cover to crackpot theories of oppression. These majors attract racial minorities by cynically playing to these students’ fears about their inability to achieve academic success in rigorous majors, alongside their White and Asian counterparts.
Ethnic studies programs are indicative of a larger problem than just the racialization of education. They are indicative of a politicization of education. There is an entire class of new majors that have no basis whatever in academic inquiry. Feminist studies, Gay studies, Latino studies, and Africana studies are not true academic fields; they are political fields where research is not done for the purpose of finding truth but for to advance an ideology.
If the university were committed to true academic diversity, there would be a Phyllis Schlafly or a Christina Hoff Summers in the feminist studies department and a Thomas Sowell or an Alan Keyes in the Africana studies department.
The problem of the lack of intellectual diversity reaches far beyond ethnic studies departments. A recent survey of voting registration records by David Horowitz found that 97 percent of Cornell’s faculty members are registered with the Democratic, Green, or Liberal parties.
According to research by Aaron Page (class of 2002), 21 out of 23 Government department professors are registered Democrats, and there is only one registered Republican — Jeremy Rabkin. A study by Ken Lee (class of ’97) found that out of nearly 30 faculty members in the History department, there was not a single registered Republican among them. There were no Republicans in the Africana, Women’s Studies, or Sociology departments either.
When confronted with these data, former university President Hunter R. Rawlings IIII dismissively remarked to Lee, “There are such things as very conservative Democrats.” Sure, Dr. Rawlings, the history department is filled with Scoop Jacksons and Zell Millers.
Unfortunately, the left-wing bias does not end with a partisan faculty. Horowitz’s study also found that 10 out of the last 10 Cornell commencement speakers were self-identified leftists. Moreover, there is not a single registered Republican administrator at Cornell. And a recent study by one of the campus’ conservative newspapers, The Cornell American, found that only one-half of one percent of student activity funding is allocated to right-of-center organizations.
Such facts constitute clear and convincing evidence that Cornell has a massive diversity problem. Students are not exposed to a wide diversity of ideas during their time on the Hill. The ideological spectrum on the faculty ranges from McGovern to Mao. Disgraced anti-Semite Cynthia McKinney is looked upon as an intellectual, worthy of a professorship, while Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan are considered wild-eyed fascists by a vast majority of the government department faculty.
Cornellians are being denied a full education. Without hearing different perspectives, students cannot develop critical thinking skills. Cornell’s conservatives tend to be better thinkers than our liberal counterparts not because we are smarter, but because we constantly come into contact with left-wing arguments and have to learn to defend ourselves. A liberal student, on the other hand, can go months, years or even an entire Cornell career without having his views challenged.
Cornell faces dual crises today, a racial crisis and an intellectual diversity crisis. Until this administration moves toward a colorblind racial policy and an ideologically diversified faculty — by endorsing an Academic Bill of Rights — Cornell will not see a dime from this alumnus. I urge other alumni to join me in that pledge. The next generation of Cornellians deserves better.