Editor's note: This week there was a flurry of new stories in the state of Colorado about an alleged plot, headed by "conservative hell-raiser" David Horowitz, to impose political quotas on the state's universities and force them to hire conservatives. The plot, which was reported in the Rocky Mountain News, involved meetings Horowitz had last summer with legislators in the state and with its governor about an Academic Bill of Rights. Evidently the reporter who actually hatched this plot did not read carefully or take seriously the aforesaid Academic Bill of Rights, which specifically forbids the hiring of professors on the basis of their politics and hence explicitly bans such quotas. There have now appeared almost a dozen stories on this non-story (some of which we have linked to our lead feature today).
The article that follows is David Horowitz's reply to the disinformation spread through the media campaign. It is scheduled to appear as an op-ed piece in today's Rocky Mountain News. The Denver Post has also covered the story in an article by David Curtain, and covered it correctly, and that article is also included in the links below. Following this story, we link the local media coverage of this case. We then reproduce in full yesterday's Associated Press story correctly covering David Horowitz's position on quotas (against) and a letter-to-the-editor of the Rocky Mountain News from Ryan Call, the Colorado Coordinator for Students for Academic Freedom.
The really interesting dimension of this affair, however, has so far not been covered by the general media (hopefully it will be shortly). Although the school term is hardly a week old, Students for Academic Freedom clubs have sprung up on 70 campuses across the country. Their agenda is to restore the values of academic freedom and disinterested inquiry to our institutions of higher learning, and to do so by promoting the Academic Bill of Rights. Readers can find out more about the mission and activities of these clubs by visiting the website www.studentsforacademicfreedom.org. The text of the Academic Bill of Rights is also available on the site.
Intellectual Diversity Not Quotas
Although I am not a Coloradan, I find myself at the center of a Colorado education controversy. Allow me, therefore, to introduce myself.
I am a civil rights activist whose first political demonstration was in 1948 to support Harry Truman’s plan to desegregate the civil service. I am now the head of a public interest foundation in Los Angeles, where for fifteen years I have been active in defending the free speech rights of both liberals and conservatives in universities. In the course of my efforts to promote academic freedom, I have visited over 250 college campuses, including Colorado University (Boulder) on three occasions and Denver University twice.
I am neither a lobbyist nor a politician, but a promoter of ideas. I have shared these ideas with academics, journalists and politicians of all stripes. Last July, I proposed an Academic Bill of Rights at a bi-partisan conference in Washington held by the Association of Legislative and Economic Councils at which Governor Owens and Senator Andrews also spoke. While in Washington, I visited with Al From, the head of the Democratic Leadership Council, and proposed the Academic Bill of Rights to him.
In the course of my visits to college campuses I became aware of problems that led to the drafting of this Bill of Rights. Among these were overt politicizing of the classroom (for example, one-sided faculty “teach-ins” on the war on terror); faculty harassment of students -- generally conservatives and Christians, but increasingly Jews; politically selective speakers programs and faculty hiring practices, which have led to the virtual exclusion of conservatives and Republicans from the university public square.
Ten years ago, Vince Carroll of the Rocky Mountain News wrote a column in which he observed that registered Democrats on the faculty of the University at Boulder outnumbered registered Republicans 31-1. It was this extreme disparity that actually inspired my first interest in the problem of academic bias. Last year, I commissioned another study of the Boulder faculty and added Denver University as well. We found that in the social science departments – including history, political science, sociology, English, communications, and African-American and Women’s Studies – over 94 percent of the Boulder faculty were Democrats. (At Denver University the figure was 98 percent.)
These are unreasonable results, and strongly indicate that there is political bias in the hiring process – a practice that is illegal under the U.S. Constitution and the laws of the state of Colorado.
What is the remedy? I have proposed the Academic Bill of Rights, a copy of which is available at www.studentsforacademicfreedom.org . In a recent editorial (9/9/03) the Rocky Mountain News asked whether this meant, “Political Quotas in Higher Education?” Absolutely not. The Academic Bill of Rights expressly forbids hiring (or firing) on the basis of political beliefs. (“No faculty shall be hired or fired or denied promotion or tenure solely on the basis of his or her political or religious beliefs.”) In other words, it is designed to make quotas unacceptable.
Nor does it mean that faculty ratios need to be “balanced” to reflect a balance in the population at large. “Diversity” means just that – the availability of different viewpoints and respect for intellectual differences. The words “balance” and “quota” do not appear in the Academic Bill of Rights or in any of the literature of Students for Academic Freedom, the organization I have sponsored on 70 college campuses to support these reforms.
As the Rocky Mountain News editorial pointed out, Republicans like Governor Owens have consistently opposed the quotas implicit in racial diversity schemes and it is a good bet, therefore, that they can be counted on to oppose quotas for intellectual diversity as well. I couldn’t agree more.
In fact, I have no idea what Governor Owens or Colorado legislators are proposing in their efforts to deal with the troubles on our college campuses. I have not spoken to the governor or his staff or any legislators since I was in Colorado last summer. It is of course my hope that they will be inspired by the ideas in the Academic Bill of Rights. But it is also my hope that institutions like the Rocky Mountain News, the academic community and the Colorado Democratic Party will support these ideas as well.
Relevant News Links from the Colorado Media:
Leftist Campus Ideology Under Fire - RMN, 9/6.
Editorial Falsely Accuses David Horowitz of Advocating Academic Quotas - Rocky Mountain News, 9/9.
David Horowitz Corrects Critics: I Don't Want Quotas - Denver Post, 9/10.
Colorado Legislators Put Forward David Horowitz's Academic Bill of Rights - Rocky Mountain News, September 6.
David Horowitz Calls for Fairness at the University Level - The Daily Camera, 9/9.
Prof Denies Bias in Hiring - RMN, 9/9.
Clint Talbott Op-Ed: Conservatives for Quotas? - DC, 9/9.
Rush Limbaugh's Comments on the Situation - Rush 24/7, 9/9.
Wes Vernon Op-Ed: Fighting Back Against the Campus Left's Blacklist - Newsmax.com, 9/9.
Democrats Call Academic Bill of Rights McCarthyism - RMN, 9/9.
Editorial Falsely Claiming Horowitz Supports Republican Quotas - Denver Post, 9/13.
Mike Littwin: GOP Storms the Ivory Tower - RMN, 9/13.
Profs Demonstrate Against Academic Equality Measure - RMN, 9/13.
David Horowitz to Speak at Denver University - RMN, 9/13.
AP Story: David Horowitz Does Not Support Any Kind of Quota (Sept. 11):
The man whose "Academic Bill of Rights" calls for more conservative viewpoints on college campuses says the document has been misunderstood and misrepresented in Colorado.
David Horowitz of Los Angeles said Tuesday he does not support so-called political quotas for faculty.
"I have never supported quotas," Horowitz said. "I never want to see any legislation that calls for a percentage of Republicans or Democrats on a faculty or a percentage reflecting the voters of the state. I'm appalled by that, and I don't believe any legislator in Colorado has that in mind."
Over the weekend, state Senate President John Andrews, R-Centennial, said Republican leaders would consider codifying the code as a state mandate. GOP Gov. Bill Owens also said he supports the concept.
Horowitz said he hoped universities would recognize intellectual diversity as a good idea and adopt his code without government prompting.
"There's an extraordinary imbalance of intellectual viewpoints at liberal arts universities," he said.
He says the faculty of the University of Colorado at Boulder is 94 percent Democrat, 2 percent Green Party and 4 percent Republican, according to a study by his staff. The University of Denver ratio was 98 percent Democratic and 2 percent Republican, Horowitz said.
His study of 32 elite universities showed similar results.
"We don't ask people's political affiliation during the hiring process, and indeed, it would be illegal for us to ask," CU president Betsy Hoffman said. "We hire faculty strictly on academic merit. However, we do bring speakers to the campuses from across a broad range of the political spectrum."
Horowitz, however, said there is no "conservative presence" among CU faculty.
"Leftists control whole departments," Horowitz said. "It would create a dialogue if there were 10 conservatives on the faculty rather than one or two."
A Letter to the Rocky Mountain News from Ryan Call, Colorado Coordinator of Students for Academic Freedom:
You have done your readers a disservice by misreporting the efforts of Students for Academic Freedom to promote intellectual diversity in Colorado. Your editorial “Political Quotas in Higher Education?” (9/9/03, Rocky Mountain News) is about some other organization not ours. No one in this state – neither our students nor the Republican officials mentioned in your paper are promoting any such thing. We are asking for the principle of intellectual diversity to be honored in our Colorado schools – not quotas, not even “balance,” but diversity.
Your editorial, in other words, is about a straw man that the Rocky Mountain News has crated both in your editorial and in the tendentious and imaginative report by Peggy Lowe (“GOP take on ‘leftist’ education.” (9/6/03). Even a cursory glance at the Students for Academic Freedom mission statement (available on our website at www.studentsforacademicfreedom.org) or the Academic Bill of Rights will show that our entire emphasis is the promotion of intellectual diversity and academic freedom. The idea of a hiring quota for conservatives is pure invention. The Academic Bill of Rights specifically rejects the idea that anybody should be hired on the basis of their politics: “No faculty shall be hired or fired or denied promotion or tenure solely on the basis of his or her political or religious beliefs.” The entire document is a call for tolerance and respect for intellectual difference in higher education. Nothing could be clearer, yet your news story and editorial both distort this reality on the basis of no evidence whatsoever.
The idea of hiring quotas has been expressly and repeatedly rejected by Governor Owens, Senator Andrews, Tim Foster, and every Republican official cited in the September 6th “news” article. An apology to these gentlemen is in order.
Your editorial correctly identifies the problems of intellectual conformity and political harassment in Colorado’s higher education system and refutes the argument for why there are few conservatives in higher education. But it is mistaken in contending that the legislature has no role in encouraging better educational values. By this reasoning government has no interest in promoting racial diversity or gender diversity either.
Since taxpayer dollars go to support higher education, the General Assembly is in a unique and influential position to encourage universities to adopt policies that promote values like academic freedom, and that will create an environment on our college campuses where different views and perspectives are respected. Legislators and university administrators have a responsibility to promote these values They are part of their educational mandate.
Ryan Call, Students for Academic Freedom