If Fredrik deBoer can’t convince his colleagues that it’s morally right to welcome conservatives into the academy, perhaps he can woo them with their own self-interest in not getting defunded by taxpayers.
The Brooklyn College academic assessment manager, who identifies as liberal but has written about liberal intolerance he observed as a PhD student, writes in the Los Angeles Times that Republican dominance of federal and state governments should scare his colleagues into being more open-minded.
Citing a recent Pew Research Center poll that found most Republicans and independents who lean that way say higher ed has a negative effect on America, deBoer says it’s time to panic:
As an academic, I am increasingly convinced that a mass defunding of public higher education is coming to an unprecedented degree and at an unprecedented scale. People enjoy telling me that this has already occurred — that state support of our public universities has already declined precipitously. But things can always get worse, much worse.
And given the endless controversies on college campuses in which conservative speakers get shut out and conservative students feel silenced, the public relations work is being done for the enemies of public education by those within the institutions themselves.
DeBoer said he has stopped believing that most professors practice “non-coercion and intellectual pluralism”:
And when I suggest it’s a problem that academics are so overwhelmingly liberal, I get astonished reactions. “You actually think conservatives should feel welcome on campus?” …
In my network of professional academics, almost no one recognizes that our lopsided liberalism presents a threat to academia itself. … My fellow academics won’t grapple with the simple, pragmatic realities of political power and how it threatens vulnerable institutions whose funding is in doubt. That’s because there is no professional or social incentive in the academy to think strategically or to engage with the world beyond campus.
If his fellow academics are concerned about the trends of increasing reliance on part-time adjuncts and legislation that mandates repercussions for disruptive protests, deBoer writes, “our own behavior as academics will make it easier for reactionary power, every step of the way.”