January 23, 2007
Del. Steve Landes sponsored a bill that would "Require that each public institution of higher education in the Commonwealth annually report to the Council the steps the institution is taking to ensure intellectual diversity and the free exchange of ideas." The Legislative Information System has the full text, which includes specific guidelines on hiring, tenure, and promotion policies, and the creation of an "ombudsman on intellectual diversity." I'm sorry to say it, but this is a misguided effort, in my humble view. As I wrote on Dec. 27, 2005, "Like affirmative action programs, demands by conservatives for equal treatment on campus are likely to backfire." For one thing, imposing such standards would be contrary to the ideal of a free arena of intellectual interchange, and might have a chilling effect on professors. Another problem is that it would further expand the bureaucratization of universities, which has already reached extreme proportions. Finally, giving special protection to conservative scholars would undermine one of their central criticisms of the entitlement-riddled status quo in this country. That would be extremely ironic.
President Bush just began his State of the Union Address with an appropriate tribute to Madame Speaker Nancy Pelosi.