Nebraska attorney and Power Line Iowa stringer Dave Begley passes along this story about a bill in the Iowa state legislature to require the public universities in the hawkeye state to balance their faculties ideologically by party affiliation:
Now another legislator wants to enforce what he calls “partisan balance” among Iowa’s faculty members. Iowa Republican Senator Mark Chelgren’s bill would require that no professor or instructor be hired if his or her most recent party affiliation would “cause the percentage of the faculty belonging to one political party to exceed by 10 percent” the percentage of the faculty belonging to the other dominant party. Politically undeclared professors would not be included in the tally.
I doubt this idea is workable, and if passed will be too easy to game. (A lot of leftist faculty aren’t registered as Democrats because the Democratic Party is too moderate for them. I’m not making this up.) And in any case, it would be too easy for campus leftists to game: they’d simply re-register as Republicans just to mess up the calculations.
Besides, I thought conservatives are supposed to be against quota hiring? I’m not sure the supply of qualified conservative academics is large enough to fill out the ranks of faculty positions if they are mandated by party affiliation.
I think I have a better idea: competition. If the Iowa state legislature wants to strike a blow against campus conformity and leftism, they might follow the example of Arizona, where the state legislature earmarked $3 million or so for a whole new school at Arizona State with a decided conservative cast: the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership. It is being run by an acquaintance of mine formerly at the Air Force Academy at Colorado Springs, Paul Carrese.
Prediction: This new school and its offerings will be wildly popular with students, and the sullen campus left will hate it.
That’s been the story of the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Study of Core Texts and Ideas at the University of Texas at Austin. It’s privately funded and run by the great Tom and Lorraine Pangle, and its great books programs and other traditional and classical courses are wildly popular with UT students—they all have long waiting lists to get enrolled. And naturally the campus left that bores most students to death hates it.
Let’s have more of these kind of programs please. It’s a better way of combatting the campus left than kvetching or mandating ideological hiring. (Hmm: Maybe someone should start something like this in the East Bay.)