Student leaders of the Harvard Crimson campus newspaper have come to an important conclusion: “it is impossible to make every member of the Harvard community feel completely welcome all of the time.”
They point that groundbreaking realization out in a new staff editorial that calls out the Ivy League institution for its lack of political diversity, dearth of conservative scholars, and few challenges to students’ worldviews.
They argue those are problems campus leaders must address.
The student editors cite their recent poll which found only 1.5 percent of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences identify as conservative or very conservative, compared to 83.2 percent who identify as liberal or very liberal, then essentially call on campus leaders to hire more right-of-center professors.
“These statistics do not reflect America: 35 percent of Americans identify as conservative, 23 times the fraction of the faculty survey’s respondents, and 26 percent identify as liberal. This stark divide has harmful effects on the University’s ability to train our nation’s leaders, and it risks alienating current and potential conservative students,” the Crimson argues. “It has also likely contributed to the declining trust of Americans in higher education, which has deleterious effects.”
“Much more work is needed to make this important element of diversity a priority. We believe the University must emphasize hiring professors with diverse beliefs and backgrounds who can challenge prevailing campus ideas through tough ideological conversations.”
The student editors went on to say hiring such professors is not enough to solve the problem. They want to be challenged intellectually.
“Initiatives to promote campus conversations in which beliefs are questioned should be encouraged, as should giving students the resources they need to feel comfortable but not unchallenged in their identities. By doing so, we expand the diversity conversation to make as many students feel as welcome as we can,” they state.
“These are not easy aims,” they add. “Increasing ideological diversity will protect people who believe in ideas that others would call discriminatory. Additionally, the University’s financial status may impede worthwhile initiatives from the funding they need to prosper. Nonetheless, there is much to gain by promoting campus diversity and inclusivity, advancing uncontroversial initiatives, and prioritizing nondiscrimination. In doing so, we make our campus as welcoming to as many as possible—with positive implications for everything from the state of campus discourse to the perception of the University outside of its gates.”
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