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Conservative professor spells out five powerful ways to fix higher education

Writing for First Things, Portland State University political science Professor Bruce Gilley has spelled out several strong solutions for fixing the problems plaguing higher education.

Arguing that reform cannot come from within, because the inmates are running the asylum, Gilley posits effective solutions must be external, that “academia has been hijacked by political interests, and it can be returned to health only through the exercise of political power.”

Gilley (pictured) knows first-hand about the fascism in control of colleges and universities today — as his a peer-reviewed paper titled “The Case for Colonialism” in Third World Quarterly in 2017 was withdrawn amid angry petitions from peers and death threats.

But Gilley is not backing down.

Here are five fixes Gilley suggests in his March 2020 piece headlined “Taking Power in the Academy“:

Enforce existing laws that protect free speech and equal opportunity employment

Regulation of speech includes speech codes, such as those that compel people to use gender pronouns not consistent with a person’s gender at birth or to use euphemisms like “undocumented migrant” instead of “illegal immigrant.” … President Trump’s executive order of March 2019 is a step in the right direction, because it affirms that universities must comply with the law on free speech. … The simple enforcement of existing employment law would constitute progress. It is illegal in most countries to hire on the basis of gender, race, or religion, among other categories. Yet we know it happens all the time.

Abolish university offices of ‘diversity, equity, and inclusion’

By radically reducing the size of these bureaucracies, we can rein in both administrative bloat and the administrative imposition of left-wing viewpoints on the student body. Diversity offices have become not only legislative actors (making new rules to guide campus behavior) but also executive actors (promoting and implementing those rules) and judicial ones (setting up mechanisms that allow students to trigger Star Chamber–like inquiries and impose punishments). These offices should be abolished. Universities that preserve them should be excluded from federal student loan programs.

Stop letting professors be the only ones in charge of hiring

The solution may be for hiring and promotion to cease to be the exclusive prerogative of the faculty: Alumni, boards of trustees, community partners, and grant agencies could have a role as well. In religious universities that have succumbed to political correctness, clerical control should be reasserted. Hiring and promotion committees should be forbidden to ask applicants about their commitments to diversity, social justice, sustainability, equality and inclusion, or other political or ideological issues. An employment ombudsman might guard against what is, in effect, the political blackballing of candidates.

Abolish grievance studies

The abolition of departments with an explicit left-wing agenda would be another useful step. All of the grievance studies departments and programs should be ended and their fields of inquiry returned to the relevant disciplines. If you want to study black literature, it should be in a department of language and literature or English; if you want to study Native American history, it should be in a department of history; if you want to study women and politics, it should be in a department of political science. This reform would be a double winner, since we know from earnings data that grievance studies graduates are the lowest-earning of all those with university degrees.

Unite the resistance

Conservative and classical liberal faculty need to organize. … That kind of moral courage is what we need today if we are to release the academy from the death grip of the left and make it useful to society again. The corruption of the universities has come about through the use of political power, above all in university hiring committees and diversity offices. The deliverance of the universities will be achieved in the same way. Far from constituting a violation of academic freedom, the use of power is the only way to restore the conditions under which academic freedom is possible.

Read the full piece in First Things.

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