Academic Freedom at UIUC: Freedom to Pursue Viewpoints and Positions That Reflect the Values of the State

by Corey Robin on August 10, 2015

John K. Wilson has examined all of the emails that were released this past Friday: not merely the emails regarding the Salaita case, but also the emails dealing with two other cases, which Wilson makes a strong argument are related to the UIUC’s handling of the Salaita case. Wilson’s piece is long and well worth reading, but lest readers overlook three astonishing quotes that Wilson has uncovered, which together comprise a rough definition of what academic freedom at UIUC might mean, I thought I’d highlight them here.

First, education professor Nicholas Burbules, a real piece of work as far as I can see, has emerged in the last few days as one of Chancellor Wise’s close confidants on the faculty. He seems to fancy himself, in these writings at least, as a kind of Machiavellian consigliere. But where Machiavelli’s counselor knew how to mould the prince to his own purposes, Burbules reminds one of nothing so much as those hapless Cold War intellectuals who thought they were taming and influencing the American state—only to discover, after it was too late, that it was it that was taming and influencing them. Christopher Lasch aptly characterized the farce of these buffoons more than a half-century ago:

In our time intellectuals are fascinated by conspiracy and intrigue, even as they celebrate the “free marketplace of ideas”…They long to be on the inside of things; they want to share the secrets ordinary people are not permitted to hear.

What drives these courtiers of knowledge “into the service of the men in power,” Lasch concluded, is “a haunting suspicion that history belongs to men of action and that men of ideas are powerless in a world that has no use for philosophy.”

Enter Professor Burbules. On February 14, 2014, Burbules advises Wise:

A related policy might address the question of “controversial” hires—this is murkier, because people’s ideas of what is controversial will differ. But a crude rule of thumb is, if you think someone’s name is going to end up on the front page of the newspaper as a U of I employee, you can’t make that decision on your own say so. You need to get some higher level review and approval.

Notice that Professor Burbules doesn’t question the notion that controversial hires are bad or problematic hires. The only question he’s willing to entertain is how to define controversial. It’s a tough question. So he comes up with the front-page rule. But since universities are often quite happy to have their faculty on the front page of the newspaper—when they’ve made a new scientific discovery or are serving on gubernatorial task forces or advising presidents—Professor Burbules recommends that the controversial cases be kicked upstairs. The higher-up’s will decide who is and is not safe to teach in the academy. Not on the basis of a candidate’s scholarship or talent, but on the basis of whether or not the higher-up’s are comfortable with the amount and type of controversy she might bring to the university.

But, as if aware of what a craven standard this in fact is, Burbules decides to look for “a more principled statement of what the U of I stands for.” Here we come to our second astonishing statement:

We welcome the widest possible range of viewpoints and positions, but not all positions. And that there are some things that are not consistent with our values.

Notice that Burbules doesn’t say that the university should exclude positions that have been proven to be fraudulent or false (e.g., the earth is flat, the sun revolves around the earth, etc.) No, what Burbules thinks is excludable are viewpoints and positions “that are not consistent with our values.” Now, you might instantly get suspicious here: one would have thought that if what marks a university is the freedom to pursue multiple and conflicting viewpoints and positions, it would be tough to get a more than thin consensus on what “our values” are.  What are those values? Who gets to define them? Burbules doesn’t say. So we’re left with that “kick it upstairs” standard: the higher-ups get to define our values.

So let’s now go to the higher ups. And here we come to our third and final astonishing statement. From about as higher up as it gets: Chris Kennedy, chairman of the UIUC Board of Trustees.

The University, as the state’s public university, needs to, in many ways, reflect the values of the state.

So that’s it: at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, academic freedom is the freedom to pursue the widest possible range of viewpoints and positions, except for those that are not consistent with our values, which must reflect the values of the state.

This the marketplace of ideas from which Chancellor Wise was buying her wares.

{ 167 comments }

1

DrDick 08.10.15 at 6:39 pm

As ugly and stupid as this is, there are a large number of state legislators here and elsewhere, that think that is exactly what it should be at a state institution. That is quite likely why our university system has the lowest paid faculty in the nation.

2

BenK 08.10.15 at 6:53 pm

I suppose we mean the hapless intellectuals who spent their time justifying Stalin, Mao, and so on? The ‘useful innocents?’

3

Vance Maverick 08.10.15 at 6:57 pm

Surely the mockery would lose none of its well-justified edge if it left people’s names alone.

4

Anon. 08.10.15 at 7:42 pm

It’s almost as if stigmatizing and delegitimizing your opposition’s ideas is a dirty tactic, completely orthogonal to what academia, progressivism, and academic freedom is all about?

Something about pots and kettles comes to mind.

5

Colin Danby 08.10.15 at 7:43 pm

A question for people who know UIUC: Wise confidantes Burbules and Tolliver led both the anti-union and anti-Salaita drives; the other three members of the anti-Salaita “gang of five” (R.H. Campbell, Kim Graber, Matthew Wheeler) also signed a 2014 anti-union statement. To what degree did faculty (or admin) response re Salaita follow polarization re faculty unionization?

I agree with Vance that Burbules should get his second “u” back. I assume that was an autocorrect error.

6

Corey Robin 08.10.15 at 8:04 pm

All right, all right, you convinced me. Burbules it is! My apologies.

7

SamChevre 08.10.15 at 8:28 pm

[T]here are some things that are not consistent with our values.

Is that even vaguely controversial in cases where the values are more widely shared among the professoriate than anti-Semitism? For example, would it be at all likely that a racialist (Steve Sailer – like) would be hired to teach human genetics? Or an open advocate of criminalizing homosexual behavior hired to teach political science?

8

Lyle 08.10.15 at 8:40 pm

Is that even vaguely controversial in cases where the values are more widely shared among the professoriate than anti-Semitism?

Are you insinuating that Salaita and/or his Tweets are “anti-Semitic”? Cuz, yeah, they’re just not. Anti-Zionism =/= anti-Semitism, etc.

9

mbw 08.10.15 at 9:17 pm

This is an excuse to re-post a letter I circulated after the statements from WIse and the Trustees were publicized.

In their recent MassMails, Chancellor Wise and the University Trustees, led by Chris Kennedy, have clarified some poorly understood points about free speech in the University and in the United States. Chancellor Wise explains
“What we cannot and will not tolerate at the University of Illinois are personal and disrespectful words or actions that demean and abuse either viewpoints themselves or those who express them.” Trustee Kennedy further elaborates “Disrespectful and demeaning speech that promotes malice is not an acceptable form of civil argument …. There can be no place for that in our democracy, and therefore, there will be no place for it in our university.”

In light of these clarifications, I would urge that certain texts often taught and discussed here should be properly modified to a form allowable in our democracy. Here are some examples to start what may be a lengthy process.

1. Admittedly this first example should probably just be omitted altogether, since the original quote is from an illegal group engaged in violence, including terrorism.

Old form: “He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people. He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.”

Acceptable form: “In our opinion he has at times exceeded the proportionate use of force.”

2. This next quote gives strong support to the corrections suggested by Kennedy and Wise to our old Bill of Rights, since the demeaning rhetoric of the old quote led directly to massive bloodshed.

Old Form: “Your wickedness and cruelty committed in this respect on your fellow creatures, are greater than all the stripes you have laid upon my back or theirs. It is an outrage upon the soul, a war upon the immortal spirit, and one for which you must give account at the bar of our common Father and Creator.”

Acceptable form: “You have not taken full consideration of the feelings of myself and other people. That would seem inconsistent with the tenets of our religion.”

3. The viewpoint represented in the next quote is obviously irrelevant to our modern world, but perhaps still should be allowed in proper form.

Old Form: “We know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob. Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me–and I welcome their hatred.”

Acceptable Form: “At times money has led to what might be regarded as improper influence. I oppose that, although of course respecting those who might disagree.”

10

mbw 08.10.15 at 9:19 pm

@5 CB: There’s a high correlation, as you note. It’s unlikely that there’s much direct causal connection. There are too many confounding factors.

11

Scott Lemieux 08.10.15 at 9:27 pm

Or an open advocate of criminalizing homosexual behavior hired to teach political science?

Huh, I must have missed Robby George getting his tenure revoked.

12

John Protevi 08.10.15 at 9:50 pm

Nick Burbules: BUT I *DO* SUPPORT SHARED GOVERNANCE: I’M WILLING TO SHARE IT WITH PHYLLIS WISE AND JOYCE TOLLIVER!
https://news.illinois.edu/ii/15/0521/faculty_leadership_award.html

RELENTLESSLY is one word for it, I guess.

13

John Protevi 08.10.15 at 9:51 pm

Oops, messed up the blockquote from the link above, where NB receives a Faculty Leadership Award:

Celebration of Academic Service and Leadership Excellence on May 13 at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology. Each award consists of a recurring salary increase of $2,000, a $2,500 honorarium for the personal use of the recipient and a personalized commemorative plaque…. Burbules has worked relentlessly to protect the integrity and strength of the campus’ shared governance processes and to improve campus conditions for faculty and staff members, and students. For more than 25 years, he has given selflessly of his time and spearheaded shared governance initiatives designed to advance the Illinois missions and to enhance the campus’ stature as a world-class research university.

14

sanjiv 08.10.15 at 10:24 pm

“We welcome the widest possible range of viewpoints and positions, but not all positions. ” – Burbules

“Differences of opinion should be tolerated but not when they are too different. Then you become a subversive mother.” – Bananas (the movie)

15

Colin Danby 08.10.15 at 10:57 pm

Re 11 and 12, see also: “Four faculty members are the inaugural recipients of the Campus Award for Excellence in Faculty Leadership. The three annual awards for excellence in faculty leadership, given by the Office of the Provost …”

Now, I assume some kind of committee was involved in the selection of award recipients. Nonetheless, let’s note “given by the Office of the Provost” (i.e. not the Faculty Senate) and remember that the Provost, Ilesanmi Adesida, was a participant in most of the just-released private correspondence between Wise and Burbules, including Burbules’ helpful suggestions on how to restrict academic freedom. Note the timing. Note the generosity of the award.

16

John Protevi 08.10.15 at 11:25 pm

@ 14: For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain a raise, an honorarium, and a really quite tastefully done personalized commemorative plaque, and lose his own soul?

17

cassander 08.11.15 at 1:19 am

If you don’t want to play by the state’s rules, don’t take the state’s money. The golden rule (he who has the gold makes the rules) is not a suggestion, it’s a fact of life.

18

Mitch Guthman 08.11.15 at 2:20 am

@ Corey Robin,

It’s a state university.  Unless you think that your values are the ones that must be applied universally or you know of some method for making value free judgments, whose values should be reflected in hiring decisions at a state university if not those of the state?

19

Anderson 08.11.15 at 2:28 am

18: Dear Troll: it is precisely the impossibility of making “value-free judgments” that requires the university to make its judgments free of the State’s values. The State has no royal road to truth.

20

Mitch Guthman 08.11.15 at 2:43 am

Anderson @ 19,

The state may not have a “royal road to truth,” but then, really, who does? What’s undeniable is that it’s the state’s university so why shouldn’t the decisions made in the state’s name also reflect its values?

If you’re right that it’s impossible to make value free judgments (in this case hiring decisions) then all such decisions must reflect somebody’s values. The question I am asking is this: If not the state’s values, then whose values should be considered in making hiring decisions at state universities?

21

Corey Robin 08.11.15 at 2:53 am

I’ve been working at CUNY since 1999. We’ve had four governors: Pataki, Spitzer, Patterson, and now Cuomo. Let’s just assume for the sake of the argument that their values are the state’s values (you see, I hope, how ludicrous this notion is: what about the Assembly, the Senate, etc.?) So for the seven or so years Pataki was governor while I was here, we should have hired only people sympathetic with Pataki’s values? Then with Spitzer’s values (would that include sucking the toes of prostitutes?) How far do you want to take this bit of inanity?

The truth is we’ve hired people who we thought were the best qualified for the job: to teach Russian politics, American politics, international relations, and so on. How the “values of the state” would bear on any of them is beyond me.

22

Watson Ladd 08.11.15 at 3:02 am

Mitch, the entire point of having a university is that people who we disagree with can come teach and learn. If you want to have a Stalinized academia where only those with the right ideas can teach, that’s not a university but a reeducation camp.

23

mbw 08.11.15 at 3:03 am

@17-20 Yeah, there’s no sharp line about whose values count in hiring, and no clear formulation of the the many contradictory values of any big entity such as the state. What we thought we had an agreement on, as stated in the standard UIUC contract offers, is that once a tenured job was offered, it wouldn’t be taken away on the grounds of offensive speech. Kennedy, with Wise’s assistance, chose to take away a tenured job on the grounds of offensive speech. Even more astoundingly, instead of trying to make the case that the speech went way beyond universally accepted bounds (e.g. by advocating genocide) they chose to make the statements which I quote in #9, which amount to a complete rejection of the notion of academic freedom and (in Kennedy’s case) of free speech in a democracy. The import of these statements was described well by U. Chicago law professor Brian Leiter:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/brian-leiter/university-of-illinois-re_1_b_5703038.html

24

Mitch Guthman 08.11.15 at 4:01 am

Corey Robin at 21,

I don’t know much about academic life or teaching but I find it difficult to believe that you have a method for reliably eliminating all traces of subjectivity. I think an assessment of an individual’s personality and viewpoints is inextricably bound up with an evaluation that person’s qualification in disciplines such as the ones you mention. So it seems to me that somebody’s values are necessarily implicated in all hiring decisions.

Therefore, I think the question of whose values are express remains. You raise a valid point about the difficulty of knowing the point of view of the state but I think it’s actually possible to get a sense of the community’s values through the people who are appointed by governors or the legislature to oversee the institution. And it is my impression that hiring and tenure decisions can be swayed at least a bit by the prevailing winds—which are sometimes political, sometimes related to office politics and I suspect very often heavily influenced by the checkbooks of rich donors.

The point is that the people at UIUC that you’re attacking for saying that there should be freedom to pursue viewpoints and positions that reflect the values of the state aren’t doing anything that others in academia aren’t doing; they’re just being more explicit about it.

The other point I would make is that states actually do have some discernable, if vague, values that our universities should reflect. There are a lot of people who wouldn’t get hired in California because of political blowback. John Yoo is an excellent example of such a person.

Watson Ladd at 22,

My point is that Corey is criticizing the administrators at UIUC for screening for positions that “reflect the values of the state” without explaining why it is worse to apply that criteria than some other equally subjective and indefinable criteria in making decision about who can work at a state university. How you decide who is the “best qualified” in a way that guarantees that people who, for example, have differing views from, say, the dominant view in a particular department can come and teach at your university?

When the faculty of a particular department makes a hiring decision, how often they hire people with whom they violently disagree and consider to be “wrong”? My guess is that everybody looks after his or her friends and protégés or is happy to hire whoever is suggested by the guy funding a chair. It’s the normal logrolling in any institution setting and I think its wrong to say that you’d get a worse outcome if the values of the state were properly reflected in hiring decisions at state universities. These people might be a bit creepier and less suave than some but I don’t think they they’re really doing anything different from anybody else—they were just stupid enough to write it down.

So all those who are without the sin of favoring their own viewpoints or pals are perfectly free to gather up some rocks to throw at UIUC. Everybody else should leave the rocks on the ground.

25

Map Maker 08.11.15 at 4:03 am

I think the challenge Cory is there are a number of folks who don’t trust the hiring process to be focused on that search for the truth or the best. There is not a diversity of political opinions found among faculty members at large R1 universities. You might think it doesn’t impact their teaching, BUT, no one would accept in this day and age a faculty department made up entirely of white males (ok, ex-philosophy). Yet no one will think twice about a department, school or university that has 100% of their tenured faculty donating to the democratic candidate for president.

it rubs me wrong too, especially since I’ve found academia to have as much nepotism, tribalism and discrimination as “the real world” … just couched in terms that in-groups can understand and digest.

26

Colin Danby 08.11.15 at 4:44 am

“I think an assessment of an individual’s personality and viewpoints is inextricably bound up with an evaluation that person’s qualification in disciplines such as the ones you mention”

This is not just wrong, but really badly wrong. Teaching is a professional activity. So is research. So is capacity to meet admin responsibilities. You can assess people’s capacities to do these things based on their records. Hiring processes require job ads, which should stipulate clearly what you are looking for and what evidence you are requesting, and require rigorously parallel processes for assessing that evidence.

I am in enthusiastic agreement with Map Maker that people should not be hired for their politics. The very last thing you want is to have this vague bullshit about “personality and viewpoints” creeping into hiring decisions. The way to avoid that is to keep the hiring process focused on the job ad and focused on the files of the applicants.

It is hardly a counter-argument to say that not all hiring processes everywhere in academia live up to this standard! That’s why you *want* standards and active and ongoing efforts to follow them. You can’t generalize across “the hiring process.”

27

Mitch Guthman 08.11.15 at 4:59 am

I’m all in favor of hiring the best people and doing it objectively. I just doing think is really possible—I agree that the fairness in the process is important but I don’t see how it’s possible to actually do that. My point, then, is simply that the objects of all of this vituperation aren’t doing anything different from what I suspect most academics (and everybody else) does in hiring—we select capable but like-minded people whose hiring won’t bring down the wrath of people who wouldn’t otherwise pay much attention.

By the way, if you do find a way to eliminate all subjectivity and “values” from the hiring processes, please let me know. I’m sure that the “neutral principles” I’ve been searching for since I was an undergraduate are sure to be somewhere nearby.

28

Colin Danby 08.11.15 at 5:23 am

I can tell you how it’s possible to hire based on qualifications in considerable detail, Mitch, and I gave you an initial outline in my last response.

What’s more, I do it. Routinely. I’ve chaired a half dozen academic hiring committees over the last decade and I’m gearing up to chair another one in a month or so. I’ve been involved as voting faculty in well over a hundred hiring and promotion votes. I take my responsibilities, legal and moral, seriously, as do my colleagues.

You, by contrast, are working from “I suspect.”

29

Colin Danby 08.11.15 at 6:22 am

I’ll sign off for the night by copying over what’s possibly the best thing in the Wise e-mails, a protest document quoted in an e-mail by Robert Warrior. See pp. 116-119 of https://academeblog.files.wordpress.com/2015/08/salaita_ocr.pdf for more context.

—–

Dear [Academic HR]

I am on a hiring committee this year in the Department of _____. We have some questions, in light of the Chancellor’s recent mass-mail about civility.

1. Should we review the social media postings of all job applicants, or only those we wish to interview, or only those we wish to make offers to?

2. Which social media should we check? The internet develops so quickly. We know about Facebook and Twitter. Are there other sites we need to monitor? A complete list would be most welcome (see point 6 below).

3. Should we review social media postings written only in English, or should we also consider postings in foreign languages? Our department lacks fluent speakers of many major languages – could campus help out with resources? We feel we cannot rely on Google Translate, since the difference between civility and incivility cannot be reliably preserved by machine translation.

4. How should we recognize incivility? e.g. Which expletives are markers of likely incivility? Is there a campus guidebook to which we could refer?

5. Could you offer guidance on situations that are likely to arise, such as: does the use of irony or satire mitigate against a judgment of incivility? For example, if Jonathan Swift applied for a position in my department, should his baby-eating manifesto “A Modest Proposal” be regarded as uncivil? Regrettably, many readers interpret everything in print literally, and hence get offended, which can lead to claims of an “unwelcoming environment”.

6. If campus does not intend for all job candidates to be assessed on uniform criteria of civility, then we fear we might be at risk of acting capriciously, and hence incurring a discrimination lawsuit. Could you please advise as to how we can minimize that risk?

7. If instead we are to run civility checks only on those job candidates about whom we receive complaints, then could you tell us what sort of complaints or complainants deserve investigation? e.g. how should we prioritize and investigate complaints from faculty, students, donors, … ? What sort of documentation should we keep of such complaints, and of our subsequent investigations?

With thanks for your help in navigating these uncharted waters.

30

novakant 08.11.15 at 9:00 am

So Colin, with your vast experience, how many outspoken racists, misogynists, homophobes and antisemites have you hired? None, I guess. Of course, you have fallback options: maybe none ever applied or maybe those that did were less qualified than other candidates.

But the question remains: would you hire an outspoken outspoken racist, misogynist, homophobe or antisemite if he was the most qualified candidate? Because, you would have to if you’re serious about excluding values and politics from the hiring process.

I don’t think you would and to my mind there’s nothing wrong with that, we should just be honest and acknowledge that there is a spectrum of values and political positions within which we operate and that we exclude those outside its boundaries.

31

Asteele 08.11.15 at 9:23 am

30: If you think the academy doesn’t have outspoken racist, sexists, or homophobes, you need to get out more.

32

novakant 08.11.15 at 9:59 am

Nobody is denying this, but it’s not a counterargument:

Were they outspoken racists etc when they were hired and was it obvious?
How long ago were these people hired? Standards used to be a lot looser.

And finally:

If their racism etc. was obvious at the time of hiring, are you willing to argue that it was correct to ignore their racism etc. and just go by their qualification?

Does an outspoken racist etc. not disqualify him/herself from teaching as it seems impossible for them to establish a fruitful relationship with students belonging to the groups they discriminate against?

33

Henry (not the famous one) 08.11.15 at 10:07 am

A long time ago I represented a professor who was denied reappointment after she had charged the department and the University with sex discrimination. One of those who voted against her explained that she wasn’t fired for complaining about sex discrimination, but because she wasn’t “collegial.” And the evidence that she wasn’t collegial? The sex discrimination complaint.

And, on a more general plane, let’s remember what Ronald Reagan said when he was Governor of California: the state “should not subsidize intellectual curiosity.” Professor Burbules isn’t saying that, of course, only that the State shouldn’t subsidize those who disagree with it. Or its “values,” whatever they are.

34

Barry 08.11.15 at 10:34 am

cassander 08.11.15 at 1:19 am
“If you don’t want to play by the state’s rules, don’t take the state’s money. The golden rule (he who has the gold makes the rules) is not a suggestion, it’s a fact of life.”

Please have an acquaintance (not a friend; your friends probably wouldn’t know) explain ‘academic freedom’.

35

Barry 08.11.15 at 10:35 am

Mitch Guthman 08.11.15 at 2:43 am

“The state may not have a “royal road to truth,” but then, really, who does? What’s undeniable is that it’s the state’s university so why shouldn’t the decisions made in the state’s name also reflect its values?”

Ah, yes. The old ‘nobody really *knows* anything, so we should do what I want!’.

36

Barry 08.11.15 at 10:36 am

Mitch Guthman 08.11.15 at 4:01 am

“I don’t know much about academic life or teaching but I find it difficult to believe that you have a method for reliably eliminating all traces of subjectivity.”

Which doesn’t imply your desired conclusion.

37

Barry 08.11.15 at 10:46 am

Mitch Guthman 08.11.15 at 2:20 am

“It’s a state university. Unless you think that your values are the ones that must be applied universally or you know of some method for making value free judgments, whose values should be reflected in hiring decisions at a state university if not those of the state?

So – all administrators should be corrupt, the campus police should torture and kill with total impunity, and no Republicans are to be hired?

38

ZM 08.11.15 at 11:20 am

If the University is a State university it should have an Act of Incorporation which should specify things like the Objectives of the University.

The other year when I felt the teachings of my university were not sufficiently teaching sustainability as they should be, I read the Act of incorporation, so then I could make a complaint about the University’s teachings. One of the relevant parts was that the teachings should be contribute to the good of the State, and also Nationally, and Internationally.

This year the University initiated a new Charter of Sustainability and Climate, so I thankfully don’t have to make my complaint, as I did not like the next step I was told to take which was to go to my Dean and complain the teachings were not in accordance with the Act of Incorporation.

So I think it is fine that University’s teachings are bounded by their Acts of Incorporation so as to guide the Provost in overseeing the development of the curriculum, as you can’t have professors just teaching whatever they like.

39

Corey Robin 08.11.15 at 11:39 am

Mitch at 24: “There are a lot of people who wouldn’t get hired in California because of political blowback. John Yoo is an excellent example of such a person.”

Gee, I wonder who this John Yoo is who was appointed to an endowed chair, the Emanuel S. Heller Professor of Law, at Berkeley, which I think is in California, in….2014?

40

Trader Joe 08.11.15 at 11:47 am

@29 Colin
You may think these criteria are some sort of joke, but many businesses and organizations do in fact have a set of procedures associated with reviewing various forms of social media for exactly the type of objectionable content that would represent a hiring risk to the organization. This isn’t impossible, nor is it a joke. I’m aware of several instances where offers to otherwise qualified candidates were ultimately not made because postings by the individual on their social media included ‘objectionable’ content.

Separately, I thought the whole point in Salita had nothing to do with his fitness for the job – indeed whatever process or procedure UIUC had – Salita had already cleared it with passport stamps at every post – except obviously the last from the board. The point is that they then revoked those approvals for reasons which they felt reasonable, but most other people – who understand the free part of free speech did not.

The discussion isn’t whether they had the right handbook or the right process – those are o.k. questions, but beside the point. The point is whether their reasons for revocation of the offer were legit – so far the courts and a loud cohort of public opionion is that they were not.

41

Fuzzy Dunlop 08.11.15 at 12:33 pm

novakant @32, It is indeed a counterargument in relation to the Salaita case, since Salaita was already hired, and the only question here is whether being racist is just cause for firing/summary dismissal. The most charitable way I can interpret the position of those who still think his summary dismissal was justified is that Salaita’s supposed antisemitism was worse than the overt racism, sexism, or homophobia of a lot of people who they never made a peep about.

42

Barry 08.11.15 at 12:35 pm

Trader Joe 08.11.15 at 11:47 am
“@29 Colin
You may think these criteria are some sort of joke, but many businesses and organizations do in fact have a set of procedures associated with reviewing various forms of social media for exactly the type of objectionable content that would represent a hiring risk to the organization. This isn’t impossible, nor is it a joke. I’m aware of several instances where offers to otherwise qualified candidates were ultimately not made because postings by the individual on their social media included ‘objectionable’ content.”

Yes. However, please note that government institutions have First Amendment restrictions.

43

Anarcissie 08.11.15 at 1:50 pm

I am very surprised to learn that an institution like UIUC is not an organ of the state, reflecting the state’s values (which may include a certain amount of tame dissidence in certain locations, possibly for its immunological value). As an example of my thinking, I think the case of David Graeber is instructive. One noticeable difference between Graeber and a large number of other supposed radicals in the academic system is that Graeber was and is an activist, by which I mean someone who might go into the streets on occasion, and not collegially but with scruffy people. But in any case, given the way in which academic institutions are structured financially and politically (including the ‘private’ ones), how could they not be organs of the state?

44

TM 08.11.15 at 3:45 pm

“I am very surprised to learn that an institution like UIUC is not an organ of the state, reflecting the state’s values”

This whole line of argument is grotesque. Of course states and state universities have values. They don’t have to be guessed or inferred from the views of politicians and higher admins: they are usually put down in important documents (called charters and constitutions and such), and they usually include academic freedom and freedom of speech.

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Dean C. Rowan 08.11.15 at 4:04 pm

The notion that a state university must reflect “the values of the state” is hogwash. Consider California’s constitution, which provides with respect to the University of California that “the university shall be entirely independent of all political and sectarian influence and kept free therefrom in the appointment of its Regents and in the administration of its affairs.” If there’s a “value” here of which UC is a reflection, it’s a value free from political and sectarian influence, or what one might describe as no value whatsoever. The notion that hiring, research, and curricular decisions at UC must satisfy some preordained measure of “values” is exactly backwards. We can only infer values after those decisions have been made and UC has done its job.

46

Barry 08.11.15 at 5:40 pm

“I am very surprised to learn that an institution like UIUC is not an organ of the state, reflecting the state’s values”

I think that this is a telling argument:

1) It’s dishonest, putting a ridiculous argument into the mouths of the writer’s opponents.
2) Even given the premise of the argument, the argument itself is false, in that an ‘organ of the state’ operates under First Amendment restrictions on ‘reflecting the state’s values’, so to speak.

47

Sebastian H 08.11.15 at 5:41 pm

This post is annoying because it draws the conclusions far too broadly. Maybe, in theory, lots of other hiring professors wouldn’t use a “values” screen on hiring. But the idea that Corey Robins, master of snarkfest and the man who uses five degrees of Kevin Bacon methodologies as his favorite method of talking about conservatism wouldn’t? Come on.

You use values analysis when hiring professors. The question is which values and whose. The answer is “the values of the already existing professors”. There isn’t really much of a self correction valve for that system so like all systems that don’t self-correct (see for example the Tea Party) you get absurdities after time (see Trump). The always existing problem is that when you get a correcting reaction to that, it is almost always a vast over-correction.

Academic freedom is important and shouldn’t be squashed. That isn’t at all the same as saying that there are values (including very political ones) aren’t selected for at universities. You use defensive arguments that you would never accept in any other venue (see especially “there aren’t ANY ANY ANY qualified candidates of that underrepresented group, I SWEAR!”)

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Sebastian H 08.11.15 at 5:42 pm

ugh, should be “That isn’t at all the same as saying that there aren’t values (including very political ones) which are selected for at universities.”

That’s what I get for changing the sentence mid thought.

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TM 08.11.15 at 7:19 pm

That tired old myth trotted out again and again.
http://www.salon.com/2013/06/18/is_there_a_liberal_bias_in_academia_partner/

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Corey Robin 08.11.15 at 7:32 pm

Sebastian H: I’m afraid you’re over-reading and under-reading. Nowhere in my post do I claim or suggest that individual professors aren’t influenced by their own values when they make hiring decisions. What I do contest is the notion that hiring practices should reflect the values of the state. Though I gather this comes as something of a surprise to many of you in this thread, Dean Rowan is right that no hiring committee at a university would ever dream of imposing that sort of litmus test on a hire in part b/c most states have freed their universities of that obligation. Not to mention, as I point out above, that trying to figure out what the values of a state are would prove to be inordinately difficult. I also contest the notion that hiring practices should reflect “our values,” when “our” means the faculty. There’s a reason Burbules doesn’t attempt to define what those are and instead kicks the question of definition upstairs: because outside a very thin, anodyne, virtually empty consensus, it’s hard to come up with an answer. Reading these comments, including Sebastian’s, you’d never know that many departments come to blows over hiring decisions — that many members of the same department won’t talk to each other for years — precisely because individual faculty have different visions of what their discipline is all about, what their department’s needs are, what kind of intellectual values they are seeking to instill, and so on.

This comment thread reminds me of the fight last summer over Salaita’s hiring and whether he had been hired by the UIUC or not. So many commenters here were so sure they knew exactly how academic hiring practices worked, even though those of us in academia repeated over and over again, no, it doesn’t work that way. Well, now a federal judge has confirmed what was so obvious to many of us all along. Likewise on this question of “values”: in all my years at CUNY, I’ve never heard of an academic hiring committee, a dean, a provost, or a college president seeking to hire candidates who reflect the values of the state (and indeed even if they believed that, most university leaders would be loathe to admit it publicly), and far from the faculty having any kind of deep or robust agreement about their values, in my experience, they often have very profound disagreements, making hires difficult, divisive, and controversial.

But since Sebastian claims to know how I act on a hiring committee based on how he perceives me to act online — just as Salaita’s critics claimed to know how he acted in the classroom based on his tweets, all evidence of his actual performance to the contrary — I don’t really expect any facts to get in his way. Like the people in the Tea Party he criticizes here, he just knows how things are.

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Sebastian H 08.11.15 at 7:47 pm

“Reading these comments, including Sebastian’s, you’d never know that many departments come to blows over hiring decisions — that many members of the same department won’t talk to each other for years — precisely because individual faculty have different visions of what their discipline is all about, what their department’s needs are, what kind of intellectual values they are seeking to instill, and so on.”

And by that you mean “which brand of left”.

“But since Sebastian claims to know how I act on a hiring committee based on how he perceives me to act online…I don’t really expect any facts to get in his way.”

Well let’s see facts then. Name say three strongly conservative hires you have personally championed in the last three years.

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Sebastian H 08.11.15 at 8:00 pm

TM, your link suggests a decline in the radical left in universities, but still shows a 2:1 ratio overall (and that is without dividing out the humanities separately).

“In data from 2006, about 9 percent identify as radical (meaning they call for the redistribution of wealth), 31 percent as progressive (less about wealth but keen on social and cultural issues), 14 percent as center-left, 19 percent as moderate, 4 percent as economic (but not cultural) conservative, and 23 percent as strongly conservative.”

Since the divide at the mere graduate level is only 49%-42% something is pretty clearly going on.

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Colin Danby 08.11.15 at 8:13 pm

re Novokant @30, you’re hiring people to do specific work, and you hire based on the track record doing that work. Here’s an example that might get to your concern. We have a student population diverse in multiple dimensions, and we’re interested in people’s demonstrated capacity to teach across difference. “Demonstrated” might include student course feedback, peer teaching observations, course design, and mentoring successes. We’re always interested in folks who have chosen to teach in institutions serving a lot of first-generation students and who can show success doing that.

I’m listing details of process to insist on a distinction between practice and ideology. We’re not interested in your ideology as a job candidate and I mean “not interested” both in the sense that the search process doesn’t ask for it, and in the sense that people’s ideologies are boring as hell. Can you teach the students? Can you get work out to an audience that respects it? This is what matters. So on your main question, I really, truly, don’t know what political engagements most of the colleagues I’ve helped hire get up to in their spare time, and I’d rather not know. (Relatedly SH @47 is talking through his hat re “values analysis.”)

This gets to what is absurd about the UIUC civility standards. To address Trader Joe @40, yes, indeed, Steven Salaita was hired, as the new e-mails further demonstrate. But, aided by Professor Burbules, Chancellor Wise *then* tried both to justify his firing and to avoid further controversial cases by promulgating a new civility standard. That is what the thing I copied mocked. One thing the mockery points out is that if you are serious about a standard you have to operationalize it, consistently. And of course UIUC had no intention of setting up the requisite machinery of review. Indeed Burbules’ key intellectual contribution to the suppression of free inquiry is the development of a two-tiered standard by which the outlandish could be sidetracked while everyone else got on with being good little faculty. So there’s more than one issue! Justice for Steven Salaita matters. What also matters is the chilling effect on other folks, and “chilling effect” is not a tendentious extrapolation when you can see administrators plotting it.

Anyone interested in academic freedom should read the John K. Wilson piece Corey links up top.

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Sebastian H 08.11.15 at 8:24 pm

” Can you teach the students? Can you get work out to an audience that respects it? This is what matters.

No. Your ability to teach students is not what gets you hired as a tenured professor. Was that meant as a practical example?

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Corey Robin 08.11.15 at 8:32 pm

“Name say three strongly conservative hires you have personally championed in the last three years.”

It would be nice if I could, but I can’t for two reasons. First, we haven’t even had three searches in my department in the last three years. This may come as a shock to you, but public institutions like CUNY have limited resources and new faculty hires are an increasingly rare event here. And it does no good to ask me about years prior to these last three b/c I wasn’t part of the hiring process until very recently. Second, hiring processes are confidential. I can’t tell you how I voted or what my position was. Imagine, for a minute, that I was not in favor of the candidate we hired, and I announced that here. In any event, you don’t talk about the deliberations that went into hires in public, unless, I guess, there is a lawsuit and you have to. Again, it helps to know something about the institution about which you so confidently pronounce.

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Corey Robin 08.11.15 at 8:37 pm

“Your ability to teach students is not what gets you hired as a tenured professor.”

God, is there any topic that you actually know something about? Most of us who are academics teach either at community colleges or at non-elite universities, where teaching is a major part of the tenure decision. If anything, at many of these institutions, research is either completely discounted or can be counted against you, as a sign that you are somehow not committed enough to teaching. If your sole interest is in the Ivy League or top-tier public universities like Michigan or Berkeley, fine. But at least know that that’s all you’re talking about and that it has no bearing on the bulk of the reality about which you so confidently — and ignorantly — proclaim.

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TM 08.11.15 at 8:58 pm

52, just to point out that 27% self-described conservatives and 19% moderates is a far cry from the claims made in 25 and 47. There just isn’t a shred of evidence for bias against conservatives in academic hiring (*). There is substantial evidence for self-selection, including but not limited to the fact that conservatives are far more likely to reject science than liberals. The article I linked to is worth reading except that you are clearly not actually interested in the subject, therefore I don’t think there is any gain in continuing to debate these tired old right-wing talking points.

(*) And it’s worth pointing out that some of the very right-wing academics claiming bias have by their own admission benefited from right-wing affirmative action.
http://www.arktimes.com/arkansas/fighting-the-leftist-lean/Content?oid=1269358

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Sebastian H 08.11.15 at 9:23 pm

Wait, Corey, so you don’t have any facts for us? You want us to just trust your privileged assertions that sure we end up with a 2:1 ratio of the left to the right when the population of college graduates is 49%-42% , but that TOTALLY doesn’t reflect any bias.

Oh and TM wants to talk about self-selection–an argument that totally works to protect in just about, umm no other setting. Normally when we talk about self-selection arguments we get to immediately jump to how the dominant culture in that environment works to week out the non-preferred members through a combination of stereotyping, making them feel uncomfortable, and actively frustrating their career. But that ONLY happens everywhere except the academic world, which is the only social structure in the whole world where we can’t look at disparate impact outcomes to find such evidence.

This seems like a great moment to reaffirm the idea that non-transparent hiring practices can’t be exposed as biased by enormous differences from the base population, and that the inability to find ‘qualified’ people of the disfavored class definitely CANNOT suggest systematic exclusion earlier in the process. It is fascinating the things you learn when asserted by experts!

Oh and getting hired as a professor is largely about teaching according to Corey. Don’t worry so much about getting published. Get good reviews!

This is excellent news.

You might want to tell Harry Is Teaching Undergraduates Central To The Mission and Clay Professors do Far Less Teaching Than The Public Imagines. Both speak to the enormous institutional pressures about everything other than effective teaching.

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Sebastian H 08.11.15 at 9:27 pm

Corey, are you suggesting that we should be treating UIUC (the university in the post) as more of a community college? I didn’t normally think of it that way, but I’m willing to trust your expert opinion on it if you think so.

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Corey Robin 08.11.15 at 9:35 pm

“Oh and getting hired as a professor is largely about teaching according to Corey. Don’t worry so much about getting published. Get good reviews!”

In other words, you have no response except an attempt, I guess, at irony? And two links that don’t go anywhere. Much like this conversation. I think we’re done here.

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TM 08.11.15 at 9:42 pm

SH, you can’t name a concrete case. You can’t name a single conservative equivalent of Salaita or El-Haj or any of the other left-leaning academics whose jobs were attacked because of their (real or imputed) politics. And yet we should believe that conservatives are victims of bias on the strength of the evidence that people who by their own statement reject science are relatively less likely to be teaching science than those who do not reject science. Very convincing.

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Sebastian H 08.11.15 at 9:47 pm

Yes you’re quite right. Screwing up an html tag means I’m wrong. If only I had provided the exact titles of the posts on the mysterious and hard to find on google Crookedtimber.org, THEN the argument would have been worth it.

Is Teaching Undergraduates Central to the Mission

Professors do Far Less Teaching Than the Public Imagines.

Also UIUC is or is not more of a community college?

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Corey Robin 08.11.15 at 10:06 pm

Sebastian H: “Yes you’re quite right. Screwing up an html tag means I’m wrong.”

Oh, you poor, benighted fool. Screwing up the html tag was probably the smartest thing you did. That way you could at least pretend that there was the possibility of you knowing what you’re talking about. But now we have the links to both Harry’s and Clay’s posts and what do we find?

In Harry’s post, you have to dig way deep into the third sentence of the very first paragraph to find this: “One caveat—she [Megan McArdle] very clearly specifies that she is talking about public flagship universities like mine [the R1 University of Wisconsin at Madison], and I shall stick with that, so neither of us should be interpreted as implying anything about any other kind of institution (she takes her main example from an Ivy league school, but that example could just as easily have been at Madison).”

I assume that’s clear enough for you. He’s talking about a very exclusive set of institutions, roughly 5% of all of higher ed. And if that’s not clear enough for you, it means that he’s NOT talking about roughly 95% of higher ed. As I suggested to you about yourself up above.

And then we come to Clay’s post. He says that there used to be a standard back in the old days — the Carnegie model — where professors taught a 4/4 teaching load. In North Carolina, he says, they’re trying to get UNC — another R1 school — to go back to that 4/4 teaching load.

Guess what the teaching load is at CUNY senior colleges? 4/3. Guess what it is at junior (community) colleges? 5/4. And we’re not atypical. This is what it means to teach at non-elite colleges and universities: a heavy teaching load where considerations of tenure either don’t depend much on research or where research can be counted against you. Teaching, however, counts. A lot.

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Sebastian H 08.11.15 at 10:11 pm

So, therefore is it your contention then that UIUC is more of a community college then? If not, why are being such a dismissive ass?

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Sebastian H 08.11.15 at 10:19 pm

And to be very clear. I’m not arguing that the UIUC was right to try to fire Salaita in this case. They clearly weren’t on even basic employment law concepts–without even invoking tenure.

I’m pushing back on the idea that ideology and values aren’t used in the hiring process. They clearly are, and all the defenses you are using to pretend they aren’t (up to and including the ‘confidentiality’ game) are defenses you would mock openly if tried in defending disparate impact for computer programmers, firefighters, or corporate board members.

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Henry Farrell 08.11.15 at 11:15 pm

Sebastian – I recently participated in an evaluation process at Brooklyn College, Corey’s home institution. Without revealing anything specific about the process or our findings, which were intended for internal deliberations within the College, I can say that you really, really don’t have any idea of what you are talking about. Brooklyn College is a teaching focused institution par excellence. Its historical mission has been to provide kids from a variety of backgrounds (very, very often, the children of first generation immigrants or immigrants themselves, first kids in their extended families to go to college) with a first rate education, despite extremely limited resources. As you can easily ascertain from publicly available information, if you might care to actually do some research rather than sneering on the basis of lazy generalizations, you might find out that the teaching load for Brooklyn College faculty is very high. The resources available to faculty for research – or indeed for anything except classroom teaching at the coalface – are extremely limited. I think it is fair for me to say that despite these challenges, the teaching that I saw is fantastic, the professors highly committed to their educational vocation, and the students are just wonderful – the kinds of students you dream of having. You really are embarrassing yourself – when Corey writes about this he’s drawing on a work experience that you obviously, given your sneers and ludicrously misplaced rhetorical questions – Just Have No Idea About. And you should really stop digging yourself in deeper.

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Colin Danby 08.11.15 at 11:27 pm

Sebastian: I meant what I said about teaching @53 and have ample experience with that criterion in hiring renewal and promotion decisions re lecturers and tenure track faculty.

I’ll also add that confidentiality is not a game but a legal requirement. You have no clue how rule-bound and procedural academic hiring is.

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Fuzzy Dunlop 08.11.15 at 11:37 pm

I can see why Sebastian H gets indignant about the claim that self-selection in academia favors (& is the main thing favoring) liberals, because it wouldn’t, of course, be a good argument in other settings where we talk about discrimination. The problem is, those few things one could reasonably call academic values–free inquiry, reason, willingness to question authority–especially religious authority, and even the very idea of looking to science and academic knowledge as the bases of one’s ideas about politics and policy–are not politically neutral. These are fundamentally liberal values, and conservatives reject them in ways that the harshest critics of reason/rationality on the left don’t. So yes, there is self-selection, just as the military profession selects against pacifists. Academic professions self-select against people who look to scripture or tradition as sources of authority, and while of course not all conservatives fall in that category, very many do, and it would be amazing if this didn’t show up in the numbers.

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Sebastian H 08.11.15 at 11:41 pm

“Sebastian – I recently participated in an evaluation process at Brooklyn College, Corey’s home institution. Without revealing anything specific about the process or our findings, which were intended for internal deliberations within the College, I can say that you really, really don’t have any idea of what you are talking about.”

Argh. The subject of the post is UIUC. Am I wrong about that?

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Sebastian H 08.11.15 at 11:53 pm

I’m well aware that hiring deliberations nearly everywhere are confidential. I am also aware that like “classified”, the existence of a thing and the actual bounds of a thing and the way a thing gets used as an excuse to cover up are three different issues.

I very particularly did not ask for disclosure about WHY someone was or was not hired. There can be all sorts of reasons for that. I asked for Corey to disclose conservatives that he championed in the hiring process. Or hell he could point to conservatives that were actually hired in political departments.

So just to be clear, since none of you are on the hiring committees for corporate boards, none of you would use the fact that corporate board members are rarely women or minorities as evidence? Or the fact that women are rarely hired as programmers is probably just self selection because programming is not really among the “fundamentally [female] liberal values” to use Fuzzy’s terminology. You wouldn’t argue THAT because you aren’t on the hiring committees for programing firms.

Right?

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Jonathan Mayhew 08.12.15 at 12:15 am

Burbules and Tolliver are politically liberal (about most issues). Burbules has a blog in which he mocks Republicans. I know Joyce (slightly) and she doesn’t strike me as a Republican either.

Here is some intelligent research reflection (by a conservative) about conservatives in higher education.

http://www.aaup.org/article/rethinking-plight-conservatives-higher-education#.VcqLlii6ZHE

Most academic searches are not political in the crude sense, in that most academic competence is orthogonal to political positions, which only intrude into instruction on a few hot-button issues. Of course, those few issues will dominate media coverage of the politics of academe. Doh!

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js. 08.12.15 at 12:16 am

Further to what Corey and others have said, there are tons of colleges in the US where the teaching load is more like 3/3, but where there’s a lot of time and attention devoted to students outside of instruction hours, where faculty don’t produce a ton of research and aren’t expected to (because they don’t have the fucking time!), and where tenure review is primarily about teaching record. Places where pre-tenure faculty can get more anxious about one seriously bad student evaluation than any paper submission or book contract. Sebastian H might think he’s being hard-headed, but he’s describing la-la land.

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Fuzzy Dunlop 08.12.15 at 12:16 am

Or the fact that women are rarely hired as programmers is probably just self selection because programming is not really among the “fundamentally [female] liberal values” to use Fuzzy’s terminology.

How absurd. What are you even saying here? Technology is not a female value? What is that supposed to mean? Obviously, “female” is not comparable to “liberal/free inquiry/distrust of authority/etc.” Female is not a value, it is a biological and social state. It does not have any direct bearing on one’s interest in doing academic work. Whether one values free inquiry (etc.) over scriptural authority (etc.) obviously does.

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Jonathan Mayhew 08.12.15 at 12:17 am

I don’t mean to defend Tolliver o Burbules by pointing to what I think their political affiliations are. Their positions puzzle me.

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SamChevre 08.12.15 at 12:25 am

I’ll go further than Sebastian H.

It’s not just that the end result is very obviously disparate. It’s that outside the context of discussing hiring, academics are overwhelmingly hostile to conservatives. It’s like the police department where there’s a dozen letters to the editors from officers about how lazy and violence-prone blacks are, and whose “scrupulously non-discriminatory” hiring policy always hires white officers (except for one Brazilian). I don’t have to know the details of the interview process to be fairly sure that the non-discriminatory policy isn’t.

Or, to name names–I find it extremely difficult to imagine Scott Lemieux championing a professor of American history who was Dunning-school versus the current “state values” version of history.

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Sebastian H 08.12.15 at 12:48 am

Yes, my point was indeed that the idea that technology isn’t a female value should be considered an absurd idea, that insider protestations to the contrary should be considered absurd, and that we shouldn’t defer to authority on the issue just because they currently run the programming companies and claim to be fair to women.

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Fuzzy Dunlop 08.12.15 at 12:51 am

SamChevre @75 It’s that outside the context of discussing hiring, academics are overwhelmingly hostile to conservatives.

What are you basing this on? Hopefully not the writings of liberal academic bloggers?

Your comparison with police departments makes the same mistake as Sebastian H.’s example about programmers. Black ethnicity is not a personally-held value that has any necessary bearing on one’s desire to do police work. Having a strong pro-Southern ethno-nationalist commitment does, on the other hand, have a bearing on one’s desire to do high-quality, professional historical scholarship, and if that commitment shows up too much in one’s scholarship (which is to say, interferes with it), and that is penalized in the profession, there is no scandal there. How is it a scandal that Scott Lemieux would be unlikely to champion a Dunning-school historian? Are the Dunning school views as well accepted by American historians as the more mainstream views? Most academic disciplines are based on the premise that some views are more correct than others, so of course there’s going to be ‘bias’ in favor of prevailing views. That sounds like a bad thing, but I’m not sure how that could be avoided without embracing an extreme form of relativism.

Academics being more liberal than the general population is not like police departments not hiring many blacks, it’s like investment banks and other finance-related professions not hiring as many socialists and communists as are in the general population.

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Henry Farrell 08.12.15 at 12:55 am

Argh. The subject of the post is UIUC. Am I wrong about that?

Perhaps so. But the subject of your offensive comments was Corey Robin, and in particular your scurrilous claims that Corey, who works at Brooklyn College, is politically biased such that he would never hire a conservative, and your challenge him in the most obnoxious way possible to point to three conservatives whom he had championed in the hiring process in the last three years. When you are challenging him to name three people he has championed, you are calling for him to breach the confidentiality of the hiring process at Brooklyn College (he is, as member of any hiring committee he is involved in, as department member, and as department chair, an officer of the university). That you’re not aware of this suggests that you don’t really know how university hiring works. Also – when you tell someone who works at a teaching-centric institution that teaching is not central to hiring decisions …

Your comments also suggest a rather unseemly and unattractive enthusiasm to allege an unprofessional level of bias on the part of someone whom you do not actually know in either a professional or personal context. If I were to suggest that you were a shitty and dishonest employment lawyer, on the basis of your demonstrated willingness to spout arse on the Internet regarding hiring processes that you have no specific information about, and in organizational contexts that you are completely unfamiliar with, it would be egregious and unfair. It is quite as offensive, since you’ve never dealt with Corey in a professional situation, for you to be casting this kind of slur.

So too your suggestions about hiring in political science departments make it clear that you don’t know the profession or the process. It’s not usually hard to figure out someone’s gender when you are looking to hire them; nor is it usually difficult to figure out their racial identity. It is, in contrast, hard to figure out their political views, unless they tell you about them. In political science, it’s typically hard-to-impossible to figure out an aspiring political science professor’s political ideology from their research and job file (which are usually constructed to be as anodyne seeming as possible). Hence, it’s hard to discriminate against them.

The exception is political theory, where there are vanishingly few jobs these days, and where your political inclinations and your writings are much more likely to be intertwined. There is, as it happens, a notorious recent example in the profession of a political theorist who found himself quite badly treated on the job market because of his political views. When he got involved in controversial political activities (union organizing) one of his dissertation committee members started writing job letters that seemed likely to destroy his future career. That theorist’s name is Corey Robin.

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js. 08.12.15 at 12:56 am

This whole thing is idiotic, though. Look, what’s the political affiliation breakdown in B-schools? And if it turns out to lean significantly more conservative than the rest of academia, should we conclude that business schools discriminate against liberals? (The suggestion seems mildly idiotic.)

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Collin Street 08.12.15 at 12:57 am

It’s that outside the context of discussing hiring, academics are overwhelmingly hostile to conservatives.

“Conservative” == “forms conclusions that lag evidence” == “is systemically late coming to the same conclusions as everyone else” == “is habitually more wrong than average” == “stupid”.

Of course they’re going to be dismissed; if you tie your identity to always being wrong you should expect that.

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Fuzzy Dunlop 08.12.15 at 12:58 am

@76 Ok, but what does that have to do with whether conservative political values are indifferent/neutral to academic values? They’re not at all indifferent to them, as far as I can see (and I’m not of course making an appeal to authority here). That of course doesn’t prove that there is no discrimination against conservatives on the job market, but it does mean you need to show much more than just that professors are more liberal than the general population, and many professors are outspoken about their political views, to make that case.

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Sebastian H 08.12.15 at 1:29 am

“Ok, but what does that have to do with whether conservative political values are indifferent/neutral to academic values?”

It has to do with the insiders and their cultural defenders taking current societal positions (currently low success of women in programming fields or conservatives in professorships or blacks in corporate boards), using highly uncharitable stereotypes to support it (women aren’t good at math, conservatives can’t think), and appealing to secretive hiring practices well beyond their actual legal commitments. In tightly closed circles like corporate boards or professorships, it also often comes down to lack of internal sponsors.

The idea that right leaning people are mentally or psychologically incapable of doing well in a university is simply bigoted crap.

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Dean C. Rowan 08.12.15 at 1:44 am

“[O]utside the context of discussing hiring, academics are overwhelmingly hostile to conservatives.” Where’s the problem? If academics are going to be “hostile” to political points of view, isn’t it salutary that they are so “outside the context of discussing hiring”?

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Scott Lemieux 08.12.15 at 1:56 am

I find it extremely difficult to imagine Scott Lemieux championing a professor of American history who was Dunning-school versus the current “state values” version of history.

I don’t know what this means. I certainly don’t think that a tenured historian should be fired for tweets that express Dunning School views (and, obviously, this includes “having the board of trustees use a pro forma vote to reject someone who by all academic norms as well as probably contract law had been hired with tenure.) If I were on a hiring committee, I certainly wouldn’t vote to hire someone whose scholarship was Dunning School, because I would be looking for someone who does research in history rather than white supremacist lies. The latter scenario obviously has nothing to do with the Salaita case.

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Anarcissie 08.12.15 at 2:02 am

‘In data from 2006, about 9 percent identify as radical (meaning they call for the redistribution of wealth)….’

I would think ‘radical’ would mean someone who believed in a redistribution of power, not just wealth (which can be said of social democracy, in other words, shoring up the existing power system). A hankering for a significant redistribution of power would appear to call into question the role of the education industry, including universities, colleges, and so on, in our present set of states. People working within it, and people contemplating taking jobs within it, would therefore be troubled by radicalism (their own or others’) and would tend to act accordingly. The fact that the conversation soon devolved into talk about ‘conservatives’ and ‘liberals’ indicates to me that my point went ungrasped, even though I gave a concrete example of it. Oh, well. Let me just suggest that there are other perspectives which some of you might try on for a minute or two sometime.

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Sebastian H 08.12.15 at 2:50 am

I want to be clear. Unlike SamChevre, I’m making a systemic critique. The number of times that an individual hiring agent has to make a decision which is subtly biased against a female programmer is few. In their minds it will be that the woman “wouldn’t fit in” quite as well as the guy. Their other encounters will have been earlier, they will have made it clear in school that she didn’t quite “get it” the way their closer friends did. They will have some unwelcoming social situations which will make it clear that her talents would be more suited elsewhere. They will think to recommend their friends to mid-level step-up jobs instead of her. Her skills don’t quite fit your idea of the CURRENT project as well as the slightly worse overall guy whose narrowly tailored skills might fit the project better now that you think about it. It may very will be that there are subtle biological things that on the extreme margins make men ever so slightly more likely ON AVERAGE to be more suited for programming. But nothing nearly so extreme as to explain the deep difference which actually comes out at the end (about 20% of the workforce).

By the time it gets to the last decision point, bias has to only be expressed a few times in the academic world. Most of the time you probably won’t experience it as bias. The leftie seems to just ‘get it’ on a deeper level that suggests to you a slightly sharper mind. The conservative doesn’t seem to quite fit THIS department’s focus, though I’m sure he would do well in other departments. This guy understands your jokes a bit better, so he might be better to be around.

But it hits earlier to0. Methodological critiques which you would let slide for some seem so much more important in THIS case for some reason. So they may not publish quite as successfully. They don’t know the right people to get your attention through the crush of applications.

Now I’m not denying that there are bald faced discriminators. There are people who just hate the idea of hiring a woman, or Republicans just squick them out. But saying that the department is biased against conservatives isn’t saying that it is full of those people. Bias can be a lot more subtle than that.

You’re sort of in the position of the HR director who says “we don’t have RACISTS!!!!!!” because he thinks the only way to express racial bias is to burn a cross.

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merian 08.12.15 at 5:42 am

Sebastian H., currently @ 86

I want to be clear. Unlike SamChevre, I’m making a systemic critique.

Nonsense. You’re doing nothing of this sort. You’re making sweeping statements about a sector you know nothing about and fight back tooth and nail against the multiple corrections you’ve received in tones ranging from friendly via polite to exasperated. You’re pursuing a bizarre ad-hominem attack on Corey, and apparently believe you can decide this thread is about whatever you’d like it to be.

But you can’t. This thread, for example, is not about hiring. And even if it were, I completely reject the notion that sexist bias against women in technical, scientific and academic fields is in any way a parallel to what you imagine is anti-conservative bias (without being able to provide any evidence to this effect) in academic hiring. I’m only going to point upthread for why this is so and register my strenuous objection. (And for the record, women in tech/science fields *is* a topic I have personal experience with.)

But given that this is not about hiring in the first place, here’s another aspect that the enlightening perusal of the Academe post & linked emails evokes. I, too, am affiliated with a US public university, a smaller one, in a more conservative state, and I, too, have no doubt whatsoever that a majority of state legislators would entertain a Bubules-style notion of academic “freedom”. It’s unlikely that either the institutional leadership or the Board is any more steadfast on these concept. I’ve up to now thought that our institution might be exceptionally shakey on that, but am beginning to doubt. Yet, for all the hand-wringing in the early emails about “damage to the institution” from things like uncivil tweets by a tenured faculty member, sensationalist reporting about an ex-felon instructor etc. — feelings I am sad to suspect would be shared by leadership teams and boards elsewhere — it’s the Board’s/leadership’s own faint-hearted, jumpy attitude that creates the damage in the first place, if it doesn’t multiply it out of control as in the Salita case. Even in cases where there’s a clear problem that needs addressing (and apparently UIUC has seen those, too, in the last years) it’s typically leadership’s reaction that makes them much more damaging problems than they would have been if handled in a firm, principled way.

Take the Dr. Kilmore situation — a quick check into this particular hiring process, followed by a statement to the effect that his background had been disclosed from the outset and that his qualifications and qualities, blah, blah, blah, and all’s good. Instead there’s pious bloviating about how of course everyone who has paid their debt (ugh!) to society deserves a second chance, but it needn’t be *us* who provide that second chance, so let’s wash our hands of the ugly duckling and kick him out of our organization. (I know it hasn’t happened, mostly because they seemed to be practicing damage control over the *other* matters.) What a pack of spineless toads!

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Sebastian H 08.12.15 at 6:07 am

No. The Salaita case is not about hiring. The original post definitely is about hiring. The Burbules quotes are about hiring and principles surrounding hiring. Corey’s formal position is that you can’t exclude hires on ‘values’.

“Nonsense. You’re doing nothing of this sort. You’re making sweeping statements about a sector you know nothing about and fight back tooth and nail against the multiple corrections you’ve received in tones ranging from friendly via polite to exasperated.”

No. I’m making very narrow statements about something I know ALOT about–what counts as evidence of systemic bias and disparate impact.

I’ll note that both Corey’s reaction and Henry’s are point for point exactly what you expect to hear from a tech field that is in deep denial about having a systemic bias problem.

1. You have the denial that ENORMOUS disparities from the underlying population mean anything;

2. You have the appeal to ‘neutral’ standards which have so many facets that they can be massaged into anything;

3. You have the suggestion that the group isn’t really interested in the field or that they have unfortunate but innate natural deficiencies;

4. You have the appeal to authority cloaked in confidential backroom proceedings that are assured cant be talked about but are DEFINITELY fair, just trust us.

5. You have a denial that the biased trait is even really NOTICED by the deciders (in the tech field this is almost always “we didn’t even know he was black when we screened him out because he didn’t make the top 3 and we never saw him” yet mysteriously the alleged reason for the screen-out often appears in the top 3).

It seriously is EXACTLY what you see in disparate impact bias cases. So either there really is a bias problem, or you ought to be ALOT more forgiving of the private sector when you here bias alleged. Hell, it might even be both.

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merian 08.12.15 at 6:50 am

No. I’m making very narrow statements

Just because you affirm it it doesn’t make it true.

about something I know ALOT about

That remains to be seen. At this stage, I’d like to see credentials.

You seem to completely miss the fact that people here may not be dancing after your whistle because this bloody thread isn’t bloody about bloody hiring. So you conveniently neglect to admit that no one in the thread has ever claimed that hiring decisions are completely free of cultural bias.

At the very outset of the parallel you attempt to be making we have a bit of a breakdown here: Unlike for highly qualified women who work or wish to work in tech/science fields we don’t see the hordes of highly qualified conservatives who complain that they were unable to secure an academic post. It was suggested above by Fuzzy Dunlop that a better analogy would be the equally rare pacifists who complain about being passed over for military jobs. You conveniently neglected that argument as well.

I happen to be in my office right now. (Model run doesn’t work. Long story.) The professors’ offices along the corridor belong to a wide mix of political attitudes. One has a Bush/Cheney bumper sticker. One is an out gay man of European extraction who’s an unabashed liberal. Most are moderate of some stripe. Some are tight with the extractive industries. Some are close to conservation movements. ::shrug::

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Sebastian H 08.12.15 at 7:11 am

“It was suggested above by Fuzzy Dunlop that a better analogy would be the equally rare pacifists who complain about being passed over for military jobs. You conveniently neglected that argument as well. “

I don’t neglect that argument. “Women don’t want to work in tech” is a bog standard defense of bias in tech fields.

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merian 08.12.15 at 7:18 am

No one doubts that. However, it doesn’t address the point.

There are manymanymany highly qualified technical women with eloquent and telling stories of bias. There are very very very few conservatives who complain about the same, provided similarly stellar qualifications. Indeed, stories about employment bias against academics appear to be at least as commonly targetting lefty academics as conservative academics (2, maybe 3 examples in this thread, zero counterexamples provided by you). Anecdata from my conservative acquaintances tends towards disdain for the pursuit of relatively (compared to qualification level) underpaid academic occupations in favour of much better-paying appointments in the private sector (or, apparently, cushy government or governance jobs).

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Sebastian H 08.12.15 at 7:45 am

There are a number of high profile cases in tech which get publicized because discrimination on the basis of gender is illegal, while discrimination on the basis of political orientation isn’t (formally, though often you can get what is probably really a case of discrimination on the basis of some political orientations shoehorned into another protected class, a practice which I’m pretty much fine with). I would argue with your manymanymany stories, but also note that they surface at a point in the hiring process which is typically either only a few years in (so at the graduate student level rather than the hiring professor level, and the graduate student level is precisely where you here all sorts of anecdotes about conservatives not getting forward going support) or after allowing quite a bit of success and then sharply cutting advancement off (something that certainly doesn’t describe academic hiring very well–I’d say that it allows essentially no success along the way and a hope for a lotto jackpot at the end).

Programming is in many ways a much easier case–it has objective hiring markers which are clearly differentiable (it is sometimes possible for an outsider to objectively prove that the woman in question was better than any of the other top candidates), the barriers to entry are much smaller (you sometimes don’t even need a degree at all), the system is much younger and much less entrenched, the system is much less beholden to the public sector, and often there is a one person decision maker to pin things on (in schools it is almost always a changing committee so you have to show systemic factors rather than individual decider factors).

But even then the number of overt bias cases are no where near enough to explain the enormous disparity in tech hiring. It really does require systemic explanations. You aren’t offering plausible innocent systemic explanations for the academic case. You are offering personal ones (conservatives don’t want to work in academic settings) which aren’t self-evidently true, and which wouldn’t be acceptable answers in essentially any other employment setting when the disparity between underlying population and hiring was 2:1. That is a HUGE difference.

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Sebastian H 08.12.15 at 7:46 am

Yikes, I have typed ‘here’ for ‘hear’ like four times today. I should probably be worried.

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Henry 08.12.15 at 8:35 am

Sebastian – the reason why offense is being taken at your comments is not because you have discovered Teh Leftist Hypocrisy About Teh Academic Hiring. It is being taken because you have made _highly offensive claims_ that one of the posters here is unprofessional and discriminatory in his work responsibilities, on the basis of no better evidence than ‘dude must be biased in hiring given what he writes on the Interwebs.’ This is appalling behavior. Frankly, I don’t give a fuck if you want to continue arguing till the cows come home that political scientists must be biased against conservatives Just Because. We are tolerant of clowns in our comments sections, including clowns who are apparently incapable of using Google to discover whether there is Actual Relevant Research, although we tend to frown at persistent efforts to derail threads. We are substantially less tolerant of people who use these comments threads to make nasty and unsubstantiated accusations against the posters who are, in matter of fact, their hosts. While this is Corey’s post and Corey’s thread, I would suggest from my personal point of view, as someone whose threads you also post in, that you should strongly consider both withdrawing your accusation against Corey and comprehensively apologizing for it.

For the benefit of everyone else, from the review of Gross’s book linked above:

In addition, Gross performed a slightly sneaky but intriguing experiment, sending dummy letters to graduate programs asking for information, in some noting that the prospective student had worked for the McCain campaign, in some the Obama campaign, and in some no mention of political leaning. From the responses, he detects no bias at all: most graduate programs are happy to take all applicants, regardless of party affiliation. He concludes that “the study should count as reasonably strong evidence that most [professors] work hard to keep their political feelings and opinions from interfering with their evaluations of academic personnel.”

When similar tests have been employed for people e.g. with typical African-American names looking for employment, there is, in contrast extremely strong evidence of bias .

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Collin Street 08.12.15 at 10:20 am

There are a number of high profile cases in tech which get publicized because discrimination on the basis of gender is illegal, while discrimination on the basis of political orientation isn’t while discrimination on the basis of political orientation isn’t

Right. Which is why back when it was legal to discriminate against black people it never got reported, and the various anti-sex-discrimination acts sprung unprompted from the forehead of Zeus and certainly media reports and social discussion about the plight of legally-discriminated-against women had nothing to do with it. And people getting sacked for being gay was never reported until after that sort of behaviour had been prohibited.

Sebastian: it is not regarded as a significant social problem if the fucking stupid are discriminated against in academic hiring.

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Manta 08.12.15 at 12:02 pm

Henry @94: did Gross check if the same (or a similar) sample showed bias against women? (If it didn’t, should we conclude that discrimination against women in academy is only a thing of the past, a problem solved?)

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Fuzzy Dunlop 08.12.15 at 12:49 pm

You have the denial that ENORMOUS disparities from the underlying population mean anything

It might, but it doesn’t have to, see? You need other evidence. If 2/3 of the population believed the earth is flat… (and that has nothing to do with conservatives being psychologically or otherwise incapable of doing the job–it’s purely a matter of attachment to certain ideas discouraging people from following a career in which challenging those ideas is fundamental–ideas like young earth creationism–not all conservatives believe in it, but enough do that if we take all the young earthers out of the pool, academics look quite a bit more like what’s left of the general population. And so on for other strongly-held beliefs…

Your argument that this is evidence of discrimination reminds me of Louis C.K.’s routine about feeling superior to parents who tell their kids “shut up and eat your fries”. He tries arguing with his kid instead…
[long argument…]
“But, daddy, whyyyyyy?”
“Because some things are and some things aren’t, and that’s just how it is!”
“But, daddy, whyyyyyy?”
“Because otherwise we’d have all sorts of crazy things like giant ants walking around with tophats, and…”
“But, daddy, whyyyyyy?”
“Shut up and eat your fries!”

Academic work is based on the premise that some statements are true and some aren’t, and if that means academics tend to have different political views from the rest of the population, it need not have anything to do with bias. (Maybe it does, but again, you need evidence other than just the fact that academics diverge from the population!)

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Henry 08.12.15 at 12:50 pm

Manta – Gross also presents evidence in his book that few conservatives in the academy report any bias against them, and that undergraduates who want to become academics are as left-leaning as graduate students and academics themselves, suggesting that there isn’t any systematic discrimination which is tilting the numbers in the stages of the process when discrimination would be likely to have consequences. I haven’t read enough of the relevant literature on women in the workplace to give a definitive answer (and in part am relying on the experience of someone whom I know well whose day job involves addressing issues of women’s advancement in a professional setting), but I am pretty sure that the experience for women in many professional environments is notably different. They experience a variety of forms of discrimination and tend disproportionately to drop out at various stages in the advancement process.

Gross argues that the lack of conservatives in academia is the result of self-recreating disciplinary images, and he also argues that this is a big problem for intellectual diversity in the academy. I think his answer on the first is the most plausible interpretation of the evidence (really – read his book to see why), and agree with his normative claim on the latter.

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Atrios 08.12.15 at 1:30 pm

My anecdatal experience with academia (both when I was in it and since as most of my social circle are still in it) is that, yes, academics tend to be democrats (not universally of course) but are, as a group, not especially liberal and not comfortable with outspoken liberal/activist politics, even in the departments of fields which have a (wrong) reputation of being very political. My time in a tenure track position was fairly brief, but while there the department was on a hiring binge and so I went to more job talks and interviews than my fingers and toes can keep track of. Nobody (including me) cared at all about the political views, actual or inferred, of the job candidates. I suppose someone with a swastika tatooed on his/her forehead might have faced problems, but it would have taken something that extreme for anyone to take note.

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TM 08.12.15 at 2:01 pm

SH, I think there is a reason why you haven’t answered 61. If political discrimination were pervasive in Academia, as you claim, there must have been at least a few high profile cases you could point to. As it turns out, there are high-profile cases of (attempted or successful) discrimination on political grounds, and all of the victims have been left-leaning. I named two examples and there are many others. There just aren’t any right-wing Salaitas. There are no campaigns by liberals to get conservative professors fired or prevent them from being hired. There is no left-leaning David Horowitz. There are no black lists of conservative professors maintained by liberals. There are no liberal think-tanks whose sole raison d’etre is to smear conservative academics. And yet, and yet, we keep getting treated to the old fact-free right-wing victimization meme and it’s getting more and more grotesque.

How do you imagine, I wonder, do the liberals gate-keepers in the engineering, physics, biology, chemistry departments sniff out conservative candidates? After all, political opinion, as opposed to gender or skin color, are not obvious. Granted, activist conservatives could be found out by google but the vast majority of silent conservatives? What unconscious clues do search committee members pick up to weed out conservative geneticists? It’s simply not plausible. The surveys you rely on as your sole evidence, which show a “political bias” even in engineering and the hard sciences, actually undermine your case rather than helping it.

Fuzzy at 68 rightly points out that the values of academia are literally liberal values: open inquiry, deference to reason rather than authority, pluralism. Academics often fail to live up to their values, just as other people do, but it is hard to be an academic and not at least pretend to be committed to values that are, by definition, liberal. Why then would it be surprising that they are more likely to identify as liberal, and why would you expect conservatives who reject evolution, believe that climate science is a hoax, and generally believe all the horrible things about academia that they read in the right-wing press, why would anybody expect people who hold these views to pursue an academic career?

Next discussion topic: how cities discriminate against conservatives.

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AcademicLurker 08.12.15 at 2:21 pm

SH,

I’m in the hard sciences and have served on multiple hiring committees. For candidates we look at 1) how much have they published and in what journals have they published it? 2) What techniques/systems do they work with (if we already have 9 faculty members working on X but none working on Y, a candidate working on Y will probably be favored)? 3) What are the prospects that they will be able to attract outside funding to support their research? In no cases have I ever been aware of what a candidate’s political leanings are.

Nevertheless, scientists now skew heavily Dem or Independent. I can’t find the numbers, but I recall seeing a poll showing that things were much more evenly distributed in 1990 than today. What do you suppose could have happened in the intervening decades to cause conservatives to avoid careers in science? Maybe massive reality denial (evolution, global warming, & etc.) being a major part of the platform of the major conservative political party has something to do with it? Maybe people who think that massive harassment campaigns against researchers whose conclusions they don’t like are A-OK are unlikely to be interested in research as a career?

Not to mention, hating “pointy headed professors” is practically a core conservative value at this point. Who could guess that an ideology that makes a point of hating the academy wouldn’t produce many people who want to become academics?

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TM 08.12.15 at 2:34 pm

There is clear evidence that the share of women in academia gets smaller the higher up you go in the hierarchy. Women usually are at or above parity at instructor level but way underrepresented among full professors. (Some universities lump the data together to claim that they are hiring women and men at the same rate even though women are hired at lower ranks). Further, there is convincing experimental evidence of discrimination against women academics. Both male and female professors, and both male and female students, have been shown to exhibit gender bias (in most cases probably unconscious, e.g. http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/unofficial-prognosis/study-shows-gender-bias-in-science-is-real-heres-why-it-matters/).

There is no experimental evidence for political bias against conservatives (see the Gross book, links to reviews in 49 and 94). There also – do I need to point this out? – is no history of discrimination against conservatives in our society. Conservatives have never been an underprivileged, powerless group underrepresented in the corridors of power, lacking the means to assert their rights. There never has been a conservative civil rights movement now has there? That is what makes this right-wing victimization claim so truly bizarre.

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ZM 08.12.15 at 2:36 pm

Corey Robin,

“I’ve been working at CUNY since 1999. We’ve had four governors: Pataki, Spitzer, Patterson, and now Cuomo. Let’s just assume for the sake of the argument that their values are the state’s values (you see, I hope, how ludicrous this notion is: what about the Assembly, the Senate, etc.?) So for the seven or so years Pataki was governor while I was here, we should have hired only people sympathetic with Pataki’s values? “

I don’t think you should assume that the governor’s values are the values of the State at all — or else you would get changing values all the time.

I was just reading an article on the history of the public trust doctrine for an assignment on climate change governance.

This article shows how in the colonial settlement of States in America and then in the constitutional conventions for the Republic, it was largely agreed that the State and officers of the State were under fiduciary obligations to the people. Partly this was as people didn’t have many books to choose from in those days, so they all got this idea from their reading of Plato and Aristotle and Cicero and The Bible etc.

“By the time of the American Revolution, therefore, both defenders and opponents of the Crown had adopted public trust views of government. Both sides agreed that public officials were bound by fiduciary-style obligations. Their chief disagreement was on the question, “To whom are malfeasant officials accountable?” “

There were two options — either derelict officials were accountable to God or to the public. I don’t see why they didn’t just settle on God and the public together, and that would have settled the debate entirely.

But anyway, there were around 5 main sorts of fiduciary obligations for State officials ” (1) the duty to follow instructions, (2) the duty of reasonable care, (3) the duty of loyalty, (4) the duty of impartiality, and (5) the duty to account.”

As you can see, if the University is a State university, then it is under these fiduciary obligations. But in some cases they might come into conflict and then you have to weigh up the right thing to do — like following instructions from an unfair Governor might conflict with the duty of reasonable care and the duty of impartiality, so it is better not to follow the Governor.

And that is why you can not equate the values of the State with the differing values of the Governors you have had since 1999.

Source: The Constitution and the Public Trust by Robert G. Natelson

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Plume 08.12.15 at 3:02 pm

TM,

Very true about conservative visions of endless persecution. Recently, we’ve seen a wave of two new groups added to the manufactured crying wall. The religious right and those poor, poor, persecuted while male billionaires.

Leftists have been purged from Academia numerous times in American history. There is no case of a conservative purge that I’m aware of. And to make it far more deeply troubling, “the state” is often pushing for those purges . . . . likely forced into it by the fearmongering right. At best, they’re passive-aggressive in their whining and moaning. But all too often it’s straight out hysterical, hair’s on fire screaming that gets leftists fired or worse.

And conservatives still push the false meme that the Media, Hollywood and our universities are all controlled by radical leftists. The business of America is business and that is a fundamentally right-wing institution, with a right-wing power structure supporting it, bailing it out, going to war for it, etc. etc. There are rarely any leftists ever in positions of power in America. Conservatives have always run the show. But that will never stop their whining or hysteria. They’ve been taught too well that this is the most effective way for them to get their way. They’ve learned they can’t actually make the better argument, ever, so it’s their best move.

105

djw 08.12.15 at 3:14 pm

Those of us who write about politics on the internet (and, to an extent, political theorists more generally) are a significant outlier in political science, but I think it would startle many people, for understandable reasons, to discover just how apolitical most of political science is.

106

Anarcissie 08.12.15 at 3:22 pm

‘…. And that is why you can not equate the values of the State with the differing values of the Governors you have had since 1999.’

Obviously in a community as large and complex as an American state, or the US as a whole, one does not observe power being held by a single despot, but by a ruling or leadership class, which is itself as complexly structured as that which it rules. Many of the power relations within that ruling class would not be particularly open to public view. The administrators of an institution like UIUC (or CUNY, or Yale, or Cooper Union (an interesting case)) would find themselves connected to the external social order by a considerable network to which they would have to respond correctly in order to keep their funds, powers, and status. From time to time insoluble conflicts might occur in the network, and incorrect steps might be taken which would lead to conflict and harm to the careers and projects of even the most astute administrators.

In this regard, the case of Salaita is interesting because it seems to indicate some kind of falling-out between different elite factions. Otherwise, Salaita would have been detected as unacceptable and extruded or neutralized long before being hired by UIUC.

107

AcademicLurker 08.12.15 at 3:26 pm

In this regard, the case of Salaita is interesting because it seems to indicate some kind of falling-out between different elite factions.

Speaking of which…

http://capitolfax.com/2015/08/11/rauner-admin-turns-thumbs-down-on-wise-deal/

108

Lynne 08.12.15 at 3:32 pm

AcademicLurker, the quote from Christopher Kennedy at your link seems significant. He doesn’t specify what she did that could be actionable, but he sure disapproves of it. But he approved of firing Salaita, so it seems he’s just throwing her under the bus and hoping she’ll carry the can for all of them.

109

bianca steele 08.12.15 at 4:15 pm

Atrios @ 99

Of course a woman who wants certain kinds of jobs, including, I assume, many in academia, is immediately identiable as a feminist of some sort, unless she takes steps to hide it. The same is true, for some people, of a person who is black. (While a man wearing earlocks, long beard, and black fedora, I have to assume, is immediately understood to be conservative.)

TM@100

A quibble, but I doubt anyone assumes engineering departments are mostly left leaning, in fact, quite the opposite. Scientists often skew liberal when that means opposing creationists and Republican defunding of science, but engineering departments in particular are not especially political, and I’d expect them to be somewhat authoritarian and very pro-business and pro-military.

Plume@104, it’s worth noting, would seem to be in contradiction to the many posters here who’ve been asserting that academia, being the pursuit of some variety of science or knowledge, is inherently liberal or left-leaning. Which is it? Are liberal professors liberal because academia is inherently liberal, or because they’re opposing its essentially conservative character? This has puzzled me greatly in recent years.

I’m frankly less interested in why there are few women in programming these days, and more in where all the openly female CT commenters have gone. I suppose it could be we’re treated the same as men and simply don’t enjoy the back and forth, like that between SH and HF, as much. It could be they’re hassled more but only because we women are dumb. It could be that women generally aren’t unfitted for discussion, but we have an especially dumb lot here. Or it could be that our male commenters are especially brilliant and we women are failing to recognize them. It would really only matter if, say, we thought we we’re running short of commenters and needed to graduate more, when in fact half were just dropping out of the system after graduation.

110

TM 08.12.15 at 4:34 pm

Bianca 109, of course engineering departments don’t really lean left but that is what conservative victim-mongers claim (engineering faculty lean liberal 51 to 19% according to one study). Of course “engineering are not especially political” and neither are most other departments, even political science. That is precisely the point – the “liberal bias” meme is really baseless.

111

bianca steele 08.12.15 at 4:43 pm

TM, sure. My somewhat distant sense is consistent with that statistic. It seems to me scientists (and actual working engineers) are often liberal in the sense of being opposed to superstition and traditionalist authoritarianism, but confronted with CT style real lefties, soon enough shift toward more of a market authoritarianism and defense of the status quo, and may start to think of themselves more as libertarians, which means as pro-business class righties, with maybe a little populism thrown in and some light social liberalism where it doesn’t inconvenience them too much.

112

CJColucci 08.12.15 at 5:07 pm

The idea that right leaning people are mentally or psychologically incapable of doing well in a university is simply bigoted crap.

What’s not crap is that right-leaning people are far less likely to want academic jobs, whether they are mentally or psychologically capable of doing them well or not, for reasons we might enjoy talking about but are really beside the point. You can’t compare to the general population, you have to compare to the hiring pool. You can’t hire candidates who don’t exist.

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Trader Joe 08.12.15 at 5:23 pm

@109 Bianca
“I’m frankly less interested in why there are few women in programming these days, and more in where all the openly female CT commenters have gone. I suppose it could be we’re treated the same as men and simply don’t enjoy the back and forth”

I don’t know the answer to this, but share your curiousity. Belle, Indrid and Maria are the most frequent, but apart from a flurry of music posts last year from Belle, far less routine than some of the men – I always read their threads and usually find them among the most distinctive and interesting.

My sense is that in the preponderance of casses the tone is reasonably civil and supportive – indeed their are routinely exhortations for them to post more – although it is perhaps the minority of cases, or at least the minority of posters, which discourage more activity. I’d be curious of their views – perhaps they all just have more gainful activities to pursue.

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Plume 08.12.15 at 5:46 pm

Bianco 109,

Good questions. I think the particular definition of “liberal” makes a big difference. Sometimes it’s used far too loosely . . . which has been my own error when talking about socialism in these forums. I should talk in terms of socialisms, and this might apply to liberalisms as well.

In short, as a former liberal, I see it in a different way. I no longer see it (liberalism) as some kind of stand-in for “the left,” but as one rather small part of the left spectrum (very close to the center, and possibly bleeding over into the center-right) . . . . with some range on its own as well. Are we talking about a Democratic Party Liberal? Or a writer for Dissent who calls himself this? A rather huge difference, which I think really requires a different word, perhaps for both. The former strikes me really as “conservative” these days (center-right), and the latter might be better called a “leftist.” At least a “left-liberal.”

Anyway . . . a goodly part of that liberal spectrum, from my POV, doesn’t really fight for much beyond their own turf, even within Academia. It’s generally the folks who reject the system outright who do, and those are most often actual leftists, not liberals. If one believes that the Academy is a place to push for real societal change, real opening up of free expression that makes a difference, real freedom and liberty on a radically inclusive basis . . . . then, yes, this is generally limited to “the left.” But, I don’t think “liberals” ever lead the charge for that, because they don’t reject the system and they are all too often fine with the larger status quo. They are also often a part of the protected meritocracy in question.

In America, liberals frequently lag far behind in these matters, but all too often get the credit for them. How many Americans believe — and have been taught — that our major Civil Rights, Human Rights, Workers’ Rights, etc. etc. advances are due to the tireless work of “liberals”? In reality, the vast majority of those advances happened because of leftist agitation and organization, with liberals coming into the mix belatedly. That essential part of the story is almost always left out . . .

I really don’t know how to answer your chicken and egg question, though . . .

115

bianca steele 08.12.15 at 5:47 pm

TJ,

Your own tone is reasonable, civil, and supportive, yet if I were feeling prickly and defensive, whether about your intentions or about how readers with sexist assumptions would understand your comment, (and noting that I don’t remember discussing any topic before with you, for a context I could put your comment in), I might notice that you quoted me out of context in a way that misrepresents what I said, you started by saying that you don’t have any ideas about what I asked about and suggesting that we’re in the same boat in that regard but that you’re somehow being helpful by being an ally to me in my cluelessness, then bring in up something (front page posters) that was different from what I asked about (commenters), and finally insult women who may still be here by suggesting (as you haven’t wrt the men) that we don’t have anything worthwhile to do with their time. But nevertheless civil and supportive and not objectionable without looking like a b-h, and I do apologize if you didn’t intend to be read that way.

116

Trader Joe 08.12.15 at 5:54 pm

@115
Actually the error would be mine. I misread your comment as concerning the OP commenters (I guess those would be Contributors) rather than those who comment upon them. Perhaps my comment makes more sense in that light.

I thought it went without saying that most of us commenting here – men, women, imposters of both, must not have a whole lot better to do with their time (at least during the times they are commenting).

117

TM 08.12.15 at 6:53 pm

I think it is instructive to explore in detail the case of one conservative professor I mentioned in 57. It is Dr. Robert Maranto, ’21st Century Chair in Leadership at the Department of Education Reform at the University of Arkansas’ (that’s his exact title). Full disclosure: I don’t know Maranto personally and have no conflict of interest concerning him. For all I know, he’s a nice, likeable person.

The Department of Education Reform at UA was founded by the Walton family (of Walmart fortune) with a $20 million endowment. While this is a lot of money, it probably doesn’t cover the full expenses (there are seven endowed chairs making twice what pother professors make) so tax-payer money is still involved. Worth noting further that the UA has classified certain documents relating to the department as trade secrets and managed to get this past a judge, despite the fact that this is a state university and Arkansas has a very strong FOIA law. So the public cannot find out what the University promised the Waltons in return for the money but the purpose of the department is no secret: to further charter schools and other aspects of the corporate education reform agenda underwritten by Walton (together with Gates and Broad and some other billionaires) money.

In the article linked above (http://www.arktimes.com/arkansas/fighting-the-leftist-lean/Content?oid=1269358), which appeared in the left-leaning weekly Arkansas Times, Maranto practically admits that he got his job (*) thanks to Walton influence and due to his conservative credentials. That doesn’t in the least prevent him from complaining about liberal bias and anti-conservative discrimination (he has cowritten a book published by AEI to that effect). Now the Arkansas Times author is exceedingly nice to Maranto (perhaps he didn’t want to be accused of liberal media bias), granting he and his far right colleagues have “impressive resumes”. In fact, Maranto and several of the others have hardly any peer-reviewed research to their name. His publication list (http://www.uaedreform.org/robert-maranto-phd/) is not up to date but gives a good impression: Maranto lists a whole lot of “opinion” but not a single peer-reviewed journal article. Most of his recent work appears in Journal of School Choice (mostly editorials and book reviews, he’s the editor) and Academic Questions, a conservative advocacy journal (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Association_of_Scholars). The few actual peer-reviewed journals where he publishes have low impact factors. Professors with better research records have been denied tenure at the same university.

I think one has to admire this guy’s chutzpah: despite a second rate research record, he managed to get a very plush endowed chair at a public university through the right-wing think-tank network and perhaps direct donor patronage, yet he won’t stop feeling victimized by liberal bias bohoo.

Also nice irony: being hired for life on an endowed chair outside of the normal hiring process and absent normal tenure review and writing that public teacher tenure hurts students, as some of Maranto’s colleagues do.

(*) I don’t know the details of the hiring process for the endowed chairs. I do know that the Geosciences department at the same university has an endowed chair in petroleum science and representatives of the petroleum industry were directly involved in the search. In that case, the endowment agreement explicitly specifies that the research must benefit the industry. Many people actually think there’s nothing wrong with that.

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bianca steele 08.12.15 at 7:56 pm

TJ,

Actually the error would be mine. I misread your comment as concerning the OP commenters (I guess those would be Contributors) rather than those who comment upon them. Perhaps my comment makes more sense in that light.

No worries. That makes sense.

I thought it went without saying that most of us commenting here – men, women, imposters of both, must not have a whole lot better to do with their time (at least during the times they are commenting).

You would think. It’s a pretty informal thing, after all.

Plume@109

Sure, but if liberals are pluralists and conservatives aren’t, if conservatives are opposed to civil society, for instance, then from conservatives’ point of view, liberals are always pushing for change. Put the other way, if people who rely on civil society aren’t liberals, they’re likely to be persuaded to be authoritarians. But they don’t have to become leftists to keep from being pulled to the right. They just have to keep being liberals.

119

TM 08.12.15 at 8:00 pm

Also, imagine the brouhaha if a state university were to create a whole department with a predefined left-leaning political agenda, handpicking professors at least in part based on their political reliability. The right-wing echo chamber would be all over it. It would be a first rate scandal. When conservatives do it, it hardly raises an eyebrow. Liberals are just too nice and mild-mannered – or maybe they fear retaliation if they speak out – to make a fuss about the shenanigans of right-wing academia.

120

SamChevre 08.12.15 at 8:34 pm

Also, imagine the brouhaha if a state university were to create a whole department with a predefined left-leaning political agenda, handpicking professors at least in part based on their political reliability.

From the middle of the electorate, that’s a description of most any department of “_ Studies”, and of some entire schools (education, social work).

121

Fuzzy Dunlop 08.12.15 at 8:50 pm

TM: Also, imagine the brouhaha if a state university were to create a whole department with a predefined left-leaning political agenda, handpicking professors at least in part based on their political reliability.

I think a lot of conservatives would consider programs like Women’s Studies, Gender Studies, and postcolonial studies jobs in various departments to fit that description to a tee–they would surely claim that the fields themselves have a liberal bias so political reliability of hires is a moot point, because anyone who works in them is committed to a leftist agenda.

The problem with this is that the very idea of devoting serious scholarly attention to women or ethnic minorities serves a left-liberal agenda. The conservative response here, as with a lot of areas of scholarship boils down to ‘we don’t think this is as important as you think it is’. The things that conservatives might want to devote more attention to, like reminding everybody how great America is, or certain brands of Christian theology, are either already there (American history) or have serious 1st amendment issues. So there’s just no way to make work in the field or hiring neutral to one’s liberal-conservative leanings. This is not comparable to the example you gave with a chair of petroleum science, which makes a specific demand that the scholar’s work benefit not a population (any expectation that women’s studies scholarship benefit women is *at most* implicit) but a particular partisan interest. So to try and enforce liberal-conservative balance (or “greater political diversity” as conservatives call it) fundamentally perverts the purpose of modern academic institutions. This is why certain kinds of conservatives are waging all-out war on higher ed: they are aware of this fundamental conflict between their values and the whole enterprise of scholarly inquiry.

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Collin Street 08.12.15 at 9:13 pm

The conservative response here, as with a lot of areas of scholarship boils down to ‘we don’t think this is as important as you think it is’

A-priori, conservatism is a philosophy devoted to solving yesterday’s problems. Even if you disagree with my claim that this set-up means that conservatives are ipso-facto stupid, it still means that there’s a very very limited scope for conservative intellectual investigation.

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TM 08.12.15 at 9:58 pm

Yes, any department studying any subject that the extreme right doesn’t consider worthwhile studying – women, minorities, education unless it’s charter schools, anything related to labor, really – let’s be honest – almost any department involving the study of society, ethics, or philosophy – has a left-leaning political agenda. Oh, forgot to mention, environmental science, climate science, sustainability, biology, they all have an inbuilt liberal agenda. They are biased by definition. Just like the mainstream media are biased by definition because facts have a well-known liberal bias.

Have I forgotten anything? Maybe this: When a liberal professor hangs on to his or her job despite a weak publication record, that’s evidence of liberal bias in academia. When a conservative professor is appointed to an endowed chair despite a weak publication record, that too is evidence of liberal bias in academia because academic publishing tilts liberal.

The scandal is we have gotten so used to this BS we don’t think it’s a scandal any more.

Have you heard of the University of Colorado Visiting Scholar in Conservative Thought and Policy? (http://artsandsciences.colorado.edu/ctp/) If you think this worthy initiative is about the scholarly study of conservative thought and policy, you must be totally delusional – only hard-core right-wingers need apply. Yep, that’s how far it has gotten with the liberal hegemony over academia.

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Anarcissie 08.12.15 at 10:09 pm

Collin Street 08.12.15 at 9:13 pm @ 122 — Dr. Samuel Johnson was a conservative. Do you think he was stupid?

125

mbw 08.12.15 at 10:14 pm

@al #101 You took the words right out of my keyboard. Exactly the same blurb, from UIUC.

126

Cranky Observer 08.13.15 at 12:19 am

http://www.news-gazette.com/news/local/2015-08-12/killeen-reassigns-wise-names-wilson-acting-chancellor.html

The UIUC Board of Governors rejected Wise’s resignation, and with it the proposed $400k exit bonus, and “transferred” her to a different job title. The circle can be closed and the ghosts sent back to the netherworld if Wise would only file a breach of contract suit against the university…

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Harold 08.13.15 at 12:26 am

@124Johnson was a conservative, but he embraced many liberal positions.

128

Harold 08.13.15 at 12:37 am

@124Johnson was nominally a conservative, but he embraced many liberal positions.

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Collin Street 08.13.15 at 2:20 am

+. As a person with formal linguistic training my attitude to the prescriptive linguistic tradition can be summed up pretty adequately in the word “contempt”, both for the activity and its participants. To say I regard prescriptive linguistics as “stupid” is to significantly understate the strength of my feelings.

+. I am beyond that not familiar with Johnson’s other work — or, importantly for literary criticism, the literature that’s being critiqued — so I won’t comment.

+. Samuel Johnson died two hundred and thirty years ago. While my statements are framed as absolutes, that you’re reaching back more than two centuries to find a possible counterexample suggests pretty strongly that I’ve identified a very strong tendency, even if my absolute claims are falsified.

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Anarcissie 08.13.15 at 3:46 am

Collin Street 08.13.15 at 2:20 am @ 129 —
I thought the terms ‘conservative’, ‘liberal’, etc., were being used awfully loosely, especially when designating a huge class of people as mentally deficient. Dr. Johnson, who strikes me as having been pretty intelligent, whether right or wrong, just happened to be the first one I thought of. He was so conservative he even felt a lingering attachment to the Stuarts! But he was a classical conservative. Many of the people who call themselves ‘conservatives’, in the U.S., anyway, are not conservative in this sense at all. Likewise, many people who call themselves ‘liberals’ are actually rather conservative in the earlier sense of the word, seeking as they do to retain the good old sort-of social democratic state, now eighty-odd years old. I’m tempted to point out as well the structural, social, and cultural conservatism of American higher education, full of soi-disants liberals as it may be; but you probably know that routine already.

We can avoid prescribing language, but if we make one word mean many contradictory things, or use two or three words for the same thing and insist they are different, we cannot avoid confusion. This is just the way the universe seems to have been constructed or grown or whatever happened to it, and we’re stuck with it. As a result, then, of political need (in government, administration, law, technology, religion, business, and whatever else concerns groups, institutions, and relations) it seems a certain amount of prescriptivism is actually necessary for communication. Otherwise I could have written this in one of the numerous local dialects, which would be hella ill, home, but maybe sort of opaque to the average CT citizen.

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Colin Danby 08.13.15 at 6:05 am

Thanks Cranky. Certainly fits the John K. Wilson analysis linked up top. More here
http://academeblog.org/2015/08/12/university-of-illinois-trustees-reject-wise-resignation-and-400000-payout/ just in case anyone is still interested in the OP.

132

Manta 08.13.15 at 8:01 am

Thanks, Henry

And I agree that lack of political diversity in academia IS a problem. Especially in social sciences (e.g.: if almost every economist were right wing, the credibility of the profession would suffer, and with good reason)

133

oldster 08.13.15 at 11:14 am

Wow. I thought there was no turn of events that could lead me to sympathize with Phyllis Wise. But then the Trustees–with the help of the Governor’s office–went and found a way.

How common is it to rescind a negotiated bonus? No–that’s not the right question.

How common is it for a group of wealthy white males to rescind a negotiated bonus going to a wealthy white male?

Poor Wise–she thought she was part of the club. She did their bidding. She covered for them. And when the crunch came, they said, “you’re not one of us. You’re an Asian woman. You’re on your own.”

I hope she sues every member of the board of trustees. I hope she hires the same lawyer that Salaita has. And I hope that lawyer makes them both rich, and the trustees poor.

134

AcademicLurker 08.13.15 at 11:43 am

@133: Agreed. As critical as I am of Wise (I think her true place in history will be as the person who made “civility” a dirty word), this is lousy behavior from the Trustees.

On the other hand, after the way they dealt with Salaita, Wise knew what sort of people she was carrying water for. She really shouldn’t be too surprised that they turned around and pulled the same “Contract? What contract?” shenanigans on her.

135

oldster 08.13.15 at 11:50 am

You are always surprised to find out you are not part of the club. The guys in the club kept saying that you were one of “us” now, not one of “them.” They kept saying you were different, not like those other minorities, not like those other women. You were different because you were cool, and you got it, and you made the tough decisions (i.e., to screw over minorities and women).

So you knew they were scum, sure, but they were only scummy to *those* sort of people. They always screw over *those* people, and they always honor their commitments to their *own* sort of people. Among their own sort, they are highly, highly honorable gentlemen.

And they told you that you were part of the club.

Meh. Maybe I’m giving her more sympathy than she deserves. I’m sure that the trustees don’t deserve any.

136

TM 08.13.15 at 12:43 pm

Not familiar with those particular trustees but typically it seems, the trustees are the (>90% white, male) lawyer and banker friends of the governor. It’s a very peculiar way of guarding the “autonomy” of the university (and not common outside the US afaik). The neat part is that nobody ever has to take any political responsibility. Ok in this case, the governor intervened directly, which is probably unconstitutional and could serve as ammunition to Wise but usually they avoid precisely that.

137

TM 08.13.15 at 12:57 pm

From the link above, the trustees have announced a dismissal hearing and a statement of the causes for dismissal to come soon. This will be interesting – obeying a unanimous board decision as cause for dismissal?

138

Lynne 08.13.15 at 2:16 pm

There is something delicious about the Board of Trustees not honouring Wise’s contract. What goes around, comes around. Of course, she’s not hurting, since she’s only being fired from her job as Chancellor:

“The board will next provide Wise with “a statement of the reasons” for firing her and will hold a dismissal hearing, according to a letter U. of I. board Chair Edward McMillan sent Wise after Wednesday’s meeting. Until then, Wise will be assigned as an adviser to the U. of I. president on biomedical affairs and continue to draw her salary of $549,069. She will retain her tenured faculty appointment, as the dismissal applies only to her administrative role.”

This from The Chicago Tribune:
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-university-of-illinois-chancellor-bonus-vote-20150812-story.html#page=1

139

Plume 08.13.15 at 2:30 pm

TM @136,

Not familiar with those particular trustees but typically it seems, the trustees are the (>90% white, male) lawyer and banker friends of the governor. It’s a very peculiar way of guarding the “autonomy” of the university (and not common outside the US afaik).

It’s been done already in a scattershot way, but I wish someone would write a book all about the way America set things up. The way it teaches kids. The way it writes its history. The way every single aspect of our society is overwhelmingly affected by a top-down, business-interest perspective. This runs the gamut from “influence” to outright control, from “suggestiveness” to outright brainwashing. It is conscious and subconscious, covert and overt.

You’re correct. I don’t think any other nation has so thoroughly embraced the idea that “business leaders” should control freakin’ everything, regardless of how far away those things really are to their supposed expertise. Like Education, Health Care, the Arts, our political system, etc. etc. Some would like to believe that this is something quite new . . . . because the political right and the GOP talk openly about how awesome business owners are. But it’s always been this way. They’ve always run everything, which is too bizarre for words on the page.

In a sense, the GOP has done us a major service. It’s brought out into the open the cult that has always been the most pervasive ground/structure/machine of state: Business interests rule every single aspect of American life. As Norman Mailer said in the 1950s, Capitalism follows us everywhere, including home.

And that other right-wing meme? That it’s the government that we must fear, because of its desire for total control? Well, to the extent this is the case, it’s always in the service of those business interests, and no one else. So the right has it, at best, half right, and they leave out the folks really pulling the strings.

In the all too complex modern world, where “specialization” and the division of labor constantly accelerate beyond previous levels, the grip business interests have on the whole enchilada is nothing short of amazing, and nothing short of a catastrophe. Their “expertise” is extremely limited, but their control is virtually totalitarian.

140

oldster 08.13.15 at 2:33 pm

I’ll find it delicious when what goes around comes around to hurt the trustees.

And I’ll find it delicious when this is the standard treatment for disgraced university presidents and corporate CEOs all over the world.

But the quote from a lawyer who represents university administrators tells you that this is highly, highly unusual. Old white presidents are eased out of their jobs all of the time, and they get to keep their severance packages.

I’m sorry: I enjoy schadenfreude as much as the next troll. But the taste of this batch has been tainted by racism and sexism. Not delicious to me.

141

TM 08.13.15 at 2:40 pm

It is hard to imagine how the trustees can pull this off (hearings and all) without damaging themselves. Giving Wise here severance would have been the easier path. It will be interesting and maybe delicious.

142

Lynne 08.13.15 at 3:08 pm

Ah, Oldster, I hear you, I really do. It probably is both sexist and racist, but Wise was no innocent, and she’s getting a little (only a little) of what she dished out.

back under my bridge….

143

AcademicLurker 08.13.15 at 3:18 pm

Lynne@142: Yeah, it’s not so much that Wise got thrown under a bus (she choose which side to go to bat for, after all), but that the Trustees are clearly the bigger villains in all of this, and they’ll probably get away without any consequences at all.

144

Lynne 08.13.15 at 4:05 pm

@143 And that would stick in the craw, to stick with this food metaphor I seem to have going.

So, is there anyone who could change that? Who is in authority over the Trustees? It was the Illinois governor who was responsible for them rejecting Wise’s resignation, right? Does the state have, theoretically or actually, the power to punish these wealthy, mostly white, mostly male Trustees? Or, would they suffer any consequences should Salaita win his court case?

145

TM 08.13.15 at 4:15 pm

No, no and no. The trustees are not accountable to anybody, and it would be very hard to stick any personal liability for their actions as trustees. But they should by now be embarrassed enough to resign.

146

Lynne 08.13.15 at 4:17 pm

TM, that is too bad. Got to say that Kennedy doesn’t _sound_ embarrassed.

147

oldster 08.13.15 at 4:19 pm

…because of the deep shame and mortification they feel when they read anonymous commenters on left-wing blogs.

These guys are no more capable of embarrassment than Donald Trump is, and for the same reason: they are surrounded with like-minded people who constantly assure them of their wisdom, virtue, and general wonderfulness. They are the winners of the world. Embarrassment (like anonymous commenting on left-wing blogs) is for losers.

Lynne, yeah, I didn’t mean to be hard on you, or suggest that you are blind to issues of sexism and racism. Chances are you know more about them than I do.

148

Lynne 08.13.15 at 4:22 pm

Oldster, no problem! I have to thank you, really—I’ve never been called a troll before. I feel I’m slowly earning my internet stripes.

149

oldster 08.13.15 at 4:28 pm

Wait, how did I do that?

“I enjoy schadenfreude as much as the next troll”–that only implicates me, not you.

And I have independent evidence to show for my own troll-ish status. I don’t know anything about yours, and did not intend to imply anything of the sort.

150

Lynne 08.13.15 at 5:17 pm

Well, shoot. Why were you apologizing, then? You have nothing to apologize for! And there goes my stripe…

151

oldster 08.13.15 at 5:28 pm

You’re right; I shouldn’t have apologized. Sorry about that.

152

Lynne 08.13.15 at 5:42 pm

:D

153

Trader Joe 08.13.15 at 5:56 pm

“Does the state have, theoretically or actually, the power to punish these wealthy, mostly white, mostly male Trustees? Or, would they suffer any consequences should Salaita win his court case?”

While it is factually true that the board of Trustees is mostly white and mostly male, it kinda overstates the case a bit. There are any number of problems with this board but its racial and gender composition isn’t really the biggest. Of the 11 voting members there are 3 women and 3 African Americans (one being both). Its not a terribly old board either with a clear majority of the members under 6o.

While this isn’t perfect, its far from the picture painted by the description which sorta conjures the image of 12 angry old white men. I say this to suggest that what has been happening is far more indicative of a conservative mindset and rampant butt-covering rather than something that is inherently racial or gender biased. I’m not going to go to bat for any of them, to be sure, but I think the situation is ugly enough without finding yet another reason to introduce additional prejudices.

Also, a final note, the board and its members like virtually all large organizations is going to have Directors & Officers insurance coverage to protect any liability they may ultimately incurr for anything short of gross negligence, which I doubt could be proved here as much as I might think otherwise.

154

Sebastian H 08.13.15 at 5:58 pm

“Also, imagine the brouhaha if a state university were to create a whole department with a predefined left-leaning political agenda, handpicking professors at least in part based on their political reliability. “

Why would I have to imagine things that are already real? Frederick Douglass and Booker T. Washington would be too conservative for some African-American Studies departments.

155

Lynne 08.13.15 at 6:58 pm

Trader Joe, thanks for that information. I agree that the ugliness of the situation does not need to be…enhanced, as I was inadvertently doing.

156

TM 08.13.15 at 7:43 pm

I brought up the “white male” angle more as a general observation on who typically gets to sit on Boards of Trustees than as a comment on this particular one.

157

Tom Bach 08.14.15 at 3:28 am

Booker T and Fred D are dead. You assume that their positions on things wouldn’t change. Were they alive today, would they hold the same positions or would that have changed those in response to all the stuff that happened between then and now? Up thread, I think, someone mentioned Johnson as a “smart” conservative. If he were alive now and made common cause with Jeb Bush, Chris Christy et al, then yes, I would say, he’s dumb.

Ditto Adam Smith. If he were alive and he he argued that Brownback’s Kansas was exactly what he envision, then I’d say he’s dumb. But, I don’t think he would. Smith, as for an example, thought that tar water was the royal road to good health. I like to think that were he alive now he would realize that he was wrong about the way to good health.

The same his notion that merchants of food would sell clean food absent tough regulations. Given the recent peanut scandal and the host of related events that show merchants less than interested in the well being of their customers, I like to think, because Smith was a smart guy, he would change his mind. His overarching concern, as i read him, was to create a system that provided the greatest good to the greatest many. Seeing as what he thought would happen didn’t I suspect he would try something new.

The dead can’t speak to the current state of the world, because, ta da, they haven’t seen it. Why just the other day over tot he NRO’s corner, some guy admitted as much about some other guy who predicted that laptops would never catch on: the guy was wrong but not dumb just unable, like the owl of Minerva, to see clearly what he and we can only see through a glass darkly.

If all of your allies haven’t taken part in the messes in which we are currently enmeshed, their arguments really aren’t germane are they. I mean it’s possible that everybody who was ever wrong about how things would play out played out would double down, but jeez that seems to be insisting that they were, you know, dumb.

158

John Quiggin 08.14.15 at 6:28 am

Frederick Douglass and Booker T. Washington would be too conservative …

I’m not an expert but I think neither is Sebastian H, so perhaps others will set me straight. AFAIK, Booker T Washington is famous as a conservative advocate of black acceptance of subordination, and Frederick Douglass very much the opposite. Looking at the UIUC case, I imagine Douglass would be the one most likely to have his appointment revoked.

159

Sebastian H 08.14.15 at 6:29 am

“Ditto Adam Smith. If he were alive and he he argued that Brownback’s Kansas was exactly what he envision, then I’d say he’s dumb.” [argument repeated repeatedly]

I’m not sure ‘conservative’ and “willing to go along with current Republican craziness” is the same thing.

160

Harold 08.14.15 at 7:01 am

@158 Booker T. Washington is now recognized as having worked behind the scenes to end segregation and disenfranchisement, whatever he may have said publicly.

161

TM 08.14.15 at 12:34 pm

SH 154, the fantasy world you live in must be very comfortable – too comfortable to leave behind. Not much anybody here can do about it.

162

Tom Bach 08.14.15 at 1:18 pm

So then, what is Conservative? Just the good parts of the idiocy of the various living people who call themselves Conservative? Erick Erickson and Brownback are both idiots who insist they are Conservative. Are you insisting that they aren’t? Also, too repeating things repeatedly is meant as an aid to the slow of uptake.

163

Anarcissie 08.14.15 at 1:19 pm

Sebastian H 08.14.15 at 6:29 am @ 159:
‘I’m not sure ‘conservative’ and “willing to go along with current Republican craziness” is the same thing.

Yes, if Dr. Johnson were alive today he’d be a lonely man.

164

Anarcissie 08.14.15 at 1:33 pm

Tom Bach 08.14.15 at 1:18 pm @ 162 —
Originally, ‘conservative’ meant preferring to retain existing arrangements. Classical conservatives, politically speaking, believed that societies were complex organisms that might react in unpredictable and undesirable ways if arbitrarily changed. I’m painting with a very broad brush here, of course.

What do the people you mention want to conserve, besides their personal and class privileges? You could say as much of Mafia capi.

165

Tom Bach 08.14.15 at 3:24 pm

Anarcissie,
Thanks for the Burke update; however, I meant contemporary Conservatism if it is not, per Sebastian H, people who call themselves Conservative and then prove to be dimbulbs enraptured of policies that make most of us worse off then we were. like Wisconsin’s and Kansas’s horrid little governors , the Republican presidential candidates horrid little men and lone horrid little woman, all of whom promise to do to the USA what Brownback and Walker did in their little laboratories of democracy.

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CJColucci 08.14.15 at 5:52 pm

Yes, if Dr. Johnson were alive today he’d be a lonely man.

Indeed, even leaving aside the likelihood of dementia, how would people relate to someone that old?

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oldster 08.14.15 at 6:07 pm

“If a man does not make new acquaintance as he advances through life, he will soon find himself left alone. A man, Sir, should keep his friendship in constant repair.”
Boswell

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