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Academic Freedom at Georgetown By: D. Pierce Nixon
The Hoya | Thursday, February 02, 2006


Campus conservatives called for equal representation of political viewpoints among Georgetown faculty Saturday during an all-day event intended to draw attention to what organizers said is a lack of ideological diversity in the university’s administration.

The Georgetown College Republicans’ first annual “Take Back Georgetown Day” was also dedicated to increasing the level of conservative activity on campus.

“It is very easy to understand Georgetown as a liberal university, but when conservative students realize that they are in good company, it is our hope that that confidence will lend itself to greater classroom vocalization of conservative ideas,” Alex Bozmoski (COL ’08), chief of staff for the College Republicans, said.

Georgetown Law Professor Viet Dinh spoke at the event and later said that political equality is a necessary facet of the university. He referenced last week’s Law Center speech by U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, which drew protests from some law students.

“I think the event, coupled with the questionable showing of protesters at Georgetown Law earlier in the week, shows that Georgetown needs to live true to its mission as a university — a place where learning is achieved through intellectualism, not indoctrination,” Dinh said in an interview.

As part of the effort to promote increased political diversity, TBGD endorsed a resolution posed to GUSA earlier this month by Assembly Chairman Ed Duffy (SFS ’07) and Twister Murchison (SFS ’08) and Anthony Bonna (COL ’09) Representatives.

The Academic Freedom Resolution strongly encouraged administrators “to vigorously support the pursuit of an intellectually diverse faculty by offering equal and fair consideration to prospective faculty of all political orientations.”

The proposal received two votes in its defeat by the Assembly.

The College Republicans do not accuse the university of discriminating in faculty hiring, Bozmoski said. Instead, he said the group seeks the addition of political affiliation as a characteristic covered in university anti-discrimination clauses.

“We feel that the administration should recognize that conservative thought is important and should be represented in the faculty,” he said.

Government Professor Charles King, who has been involved in many faculty search committees in both Georgetown College and the School of Foreign Service, said that he has not seen any discrimination, however.

“I think most faculty members would take great offense if someone were opposed to a candidate because he or she were pegged as ‘too liberal’ or ‘too conservative,’” he said. “Search committees are charged with finding the best scholar in his or her field, not scholars who fit a particular political profile.”

Bozmoski said the opposition voiced by many faculty members over SFS Dean Robert L. Gallucci’s consideration of prominent conservative and former U.S. Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith as a new distinguished professor caused concern among members of TBGD. Feith also played an important role in developing policy for the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

King said that the appointment of Feith “is not a particularly good test case” for such objections. He said that many SFS faculty take issue with the appointment because they feel Feith is simply not qualified for the position.

Many felt that “Feith was simply not sufficiently highly placed within the administration to warrant his being hired to a ‘distinguished professorship,’” King said, adding that he did not hear objections based on political orientation.

“It’s worth remembering that several SFS faculty have served in high-level posts in both Republican and Democratic administrations,” King added.

Dinh said he found Feith’s work to be “of the highest caliber and his integrity to be beyond reproach.”

The College Democrats said they also support the idea of a politically balanced campus.

“The Georgetown University College Democrats supports the university’s commitment to promoting diversity and discussion on campus,” Robert Kris (SFS ’08), communications director for the College Democrats, said.

Bozmoski said the quest for a politically balanced faculty should be limited to policy-related subjects. For other subjects, professors who voice their political views may be intimidating to students, he added.

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D. Pierce Nixon is a staff writer for Georgetown University's The Hoya.


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