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SAF Comes to Princeton By: DailyPrincetonian.com
DailyPrincetonian.com | Wednesday, April 07, 2004


Evan Baehr has a point. There is too little intellectual diversity in academia, even at Princeton.

In too many classes, little of the fierce intellectual give and take that characterizes a rigorous academic climate exists. Many professors do try earnestly to fairly present both sides of an ideological issue, but they often seem to be impeded by their own lack of exposure to conservative ideas. Many Americans hold these ideas, and they deserve to be heard. Thus, insofar as the new Princeton chapter of Students for Academic Freedom seeks to broaden the ideological horizons of students and professors alike, we commend it.

We are, however, somewhat concerned that the SAF may itself suffer from dogmatism. The protection of "at risk" conservatives should not be the goal of an organization devoted to free thought. Rather, the concentration of the SAF should be procedural. It should make sure that newly arrived students have the opportunity to form their own opinions free of interference from any controlling orthodoxy — liberal or conservative — at Princeton.

No student has a right to go through college with his views unchallenged. If he does, he should demand a refund. If, having been exposed to both sides of the ideological spectrum, the young conservative decides to become liberal, so be it.

SAF should also remember that liberal dominance in the Ivory Tower may be less the product of discrimination and more the product of differing priorities. Professors necessarily accept smaller salaries in academia than they would receive in the private sector with their talents. Since conservatives are supposed to care more about economic freedom than liberals, it's not surprising that they are over represented on Wall Street but under represented at Nassau Hall.

While it would be nice to see more conservative faces on campus, Princeton should not seriously compromise its academic excellence through "conservative affirmative action" to do so.




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