On Wednesday, President Peter Salovey announced the creation of a “presidential task force on diversity and inclusion.” The group should begin where Yale is perhaps most deficient: intellectual diversity.

In 2012, according to the News, 97 percent of political contributions from Yale employees went to Democrats. Yale beat all other Ivies in this category; Dartmouth, at 78 percent, came in last.

And ask yourself: how many professors at Yale defend — and accept — the immorality of abortion, the impropriety of gay marriage, a hawkish foreign policy, the importance of religion in the public square (or anywhere else), the perversity of race-based affirmative action or the justice of free-market capitalism? Not many. But these positions are held by millions of Americans. They help comprise the platform of the political party in control of the House, the Senate and 32 of 50 governorships. They have able proponents in newspapers and magazines. I would bet that four in five Yalies disagree with most or all of them. And few other than some renegades in the Yale Political Union are willing to promote them.

This means Yale is splurging on the educations of conservative and religious students, while skimping on Yale’s liberal, secular plurality. Right-wing students needn’t wait for lunch before encountering a master, dean or professor willing to challenge them. These students’ assumptions are sacrilegious to many. Their privilege is checked, their opinions castigated, their concerns criticized and their conclusions derided. And no one provides spaces where these students may safely process a difficult experience they had that day. Who could ask for an environment more conducive to growth, agility and rigor than the one provided today to the average conservative Catholic Eli?

None of this is to impugn the liberal-mindedness of Yale’s faculty, or to question the interest they take in all their students’ educations. I have never heard of a teacher sneer at a conservative student for thinking as she did. Nor is it to say there are not very interesting disputes among liberals.

Rather, opinions affect the questions that we think important to ask at the beginning of a discussion, as well as the thoughts we have at the end of it. That’s because most thoughts are not isolated sound bites, but part of an integrated metaphysics, ethics and politics. Liberals think differently from conservative not just in the trivial sense that they vote differently, but because they have different ideas of what makes an argument good in the first place.

There are ways a conservative will naturally bend one’s mind that are different from the ways a liberal will. What is the practical consequence of having almost no conservative faculty? After all, Bass Library has at least two copies of Russell Kirk’s “The Conservative Mind” awaiting any curious leftist.

Consider the case of Silliman Associate Master Erika Christakis’ Halloween email. I don’t wish to address the arguments in her email. I want only to point out that Yale did not really get the chance to do so. The email was greeted by histrionic outrage and condemnation. Students claimed they felt “unsafe.” Dozens accosted and screamed at her husband, Silliman Master Nicholas Christakis. Many argued that the Christakises had traversed the bounds of their roles in Silliman, with some so disgusted that they threatened to transfer out.

The reaction of hundreds of Yale students to an argument with which they vehemently disagreed, in other words, was to protest, accuse and condemn, rather than to dispute. They did not want to have a discussion. In words that should shame our entire school, one student yelled, “It is not about creating an intellectual space!” One cannot know the exact cause of this widespread illiberalism, but might it have something to do with the narrow range of political opinions defended by the adults at Yale? Many students may go four years thinking that some very serious ideas are simply irrational, because among Yale’s brilliant teachers, there is almost no one who offers them.

Princeton professor Robert George recently spoke at Yale about intellectual diversity. Among his points was the danger of everyone thinking as those around them do. This is how intellectual orthodoxies form, and orthodoxies beget lazy inquiry. Worse, as the decidedly liberal Erika Christakis discovered, they narrow what the late journalist Christopher Hitchens called “the limits of permissible thought,” making a campus a difficult place to dissent.

Yale should not hire worse faculty simply because they are conservative. If anything, it should raise its standards for espousers of views many of its students have not heard from a Yale professor.

This new task force might wish to consider the different kinds of diversity truly necessary for a good education and a complete University. To not do so would be a scandalous abdication. The victims would be Yale’s liberal students.

Cole Aronson is a sophomore in Calhoun College. His column runs on Mondays. Contact him at cole.aronson@yale.edu .

  • famousseamus

    Censorship happens;

    what would *Wm.F. Buckley say?

    ^A former YDN Editor during another era

  • vincent

    Unfortunately the mantra of most elite institutions these days seems to be many voices, but one message.

  • brometheus

    Fantastic column. Quotas are superficial — substance is what truly matters.

  • yaleyeah

    Wanting your government to live within it’s means and stop piling more debt on the younger generation is considered radical right wing in Obama’s America.

  • 100wattlightbulb

    Nice, needed column. Diversity is actually code for recruiting more”like-minded” progressives. Conservative students and faculty caught -on a while ago, so they sit back and keep their mouths closed for the most part.

  • Rachel

    Colbert said it best:

    • The Noble Saybrugian

      Ah, yes, questions about the ideal form of government, the role of tradition, the limits of human reason, the nature of the good life, the source and content of morality, the foundations of human nature–all can be answered by observing the liberalism embedded in the fabric of reality.
      The people who post this meme exemplify the shallowness of the current “higher” educational system; they would do well to cease wallowing in their smallminded smugness for a moment and perhaps engage in some actual thought.

      • Philhellenic

        well said.

    • Douglas Levene

      It’s hard to believe a Yale student would post something like this. I guess high IQ doesn’t mean intellectual maturity.

  • Luc

    Finally, a rational balanced voice emerges.

  • Le Monocle de Mon Oncle

    Unfortunately, an honest pursuit of “viewpoint diversity” will never happen without far more substantial changes because, as John Guillory argued in Cultural Capital, universities — like all institutions — are interested in preserving their prestige, i.e., their cultural capital, in order to show that they offer something that society needs, thereby increasing their own status and renumeration. Once upon a time, that “need” was a liberal arts and sciences education that distinguished the educated aristocracy from the uneducated masses, but after WWII, with the rise of the techno-financial elite to replace the traditional aristocracy, such liberal arts and sciences education was no longer necessary; the techno-financial elite needed only the kind of simple “composition” curriculum that high school education provides in order to write an office memo or work e-mail, so that the sole purpose of college became to confer a degree that hiring firms would use to separate the wheat from the chaff. To address this diminution in the prestige in the traditional humanities, those fields adopted an attitude of social critique. Approaches such as Marxism, deconstruction, historicism and critical race theory, all of which adopted a critical stance toward the bourgeois society the techno-financial elite had created, flourished, and the idea was, unless you are schooled in these new critical disciplines, you are, for all the $ signs on your paycheck, a rube, a redneck, an untutored simpleton. These new disciplines and the departments and sub-disciplines they created then gave themselves new cultural cache by creating mini-industries, such as diversity and sensitivity training, in which those matriculating from these departments could specialize. Over time, more and more graduates schooled in such critical approaches to society came to become a new “establishment,” dominating academia, thinktanks, the media and other institutions. The result is an assault on traditional canons of education. The result is the kind of all-on assault against traditional society that we’re seeing from the political left. The result is also the kind of politically correct censorship that, as the prominent moral psychologist Jonathan Haidt has found (see, e.g., the article entitled “Enslaved by History: Parasite Privilege and the Silenced Majority”), is resulting in the effective silencing of whites, white males and, above all, conservatives, so that the reality is exactly the opposite of what the Yale protests have suggested; it’s not minorities, but rather, whites, males and conservatives who increasingly don’t feel “at home” in American universities. All of this means that university departments cannot really commit to viewpoint diversity because conservatives generally favor traditional society and its institutions rather than adopting a critical stance towards them. For universities, losing their critical stance would mean losing their cultural cache. In order to bring back true viewpoint diversity, we will first have to emancipate universities from their dependence on private funding and make them into public institutions charged with the mission of educating students in a broad-based traditional humanities and sciences curriculum necessary to full-fledged democratic citizenship. This, however, is a hard sell because most liberals want their humanities bereft of tradition, i.e., they want to hold on to their critical stance toward the U.S. and the West, whereas most conservatives want their tradition bereft of humanities and humanity, i.e., they want education that’s practical and see no value in literature, the arts, philosophy, etc. What that means, my friends, is that we’re in what social scientists like to call “a real bind.”

  • Le Monocle de Mon Oncle

    Unfortunately, an honest pursuit of “viewpoint diversity” will never happen without far more substantial changes because, as John Guillory argued in Cultural Capital, universities — like all institutions — are interested in preserving their prestige, i.e., their cultural capital, in order to show that they offer something that society needs, thereby increasing their own status and renumeration. Once upon a time, that “need” was a liberal arts and sciences education that distinguished the educated aristocracy from the uneducated masses, but after WWII, with the rise of the techno-financial elite to replace the traditional aristocracy, such liberal arts and sciences education was no longer necessary; the techno-financial elite needed only the kind of simple “composition” curriculum that high school education provides in order to write an office memo or work e-mail, so that the sole purpose of college became to confer a degree that hiring firms would use to separate the wheat from the chaff. To address this diminution in the prestige in the traditional humanities, those fields adopted an attitude of social critique. Approaches such as Marxism, deconstruction, historicism and critical race theory, all of which adopted a critical stance toward the bourgeois society the techno-financial elite had created, flourished, and the idea was, unless you are schooled in these new critical disciplines, you are, for all the $ signs on your paycheck, a rube, a redneck, an untutored simpleton. These new disciplines and the departments and sub-disciplines they created then gave themselves new cultural cache by creating mini-industries, such as diversity and sensitivity training, in which those matriculating from these departments could specialize. Over time, more and more graduates schooled in such critical approaches to society came to become a new “establishment,” dominating academia, thinktanks, the media and other institutions. The result is an assault on traditional canons of education. The result is the kind of all-on assault against traditional society that we’re seeing from the political left. The result is also the kind of politically correct censorship that, as the prominent moral psychologist Jonathan Haidt has found (see, e.g., the article entitled “Enslaved by History: Parasite Privilege and the Silenced Majority”), is resulting in the effective silencing of whites, white males and, above all, conservatives, so that the reality is exactly the opposite of what the Yale protests have suggested; it’s not minorities, but rather, whites, males and conservatives who increasingly don’t feel “at home” in American universities. All of this means that university departments cannot really commit to viewpoint diversity because conservatives generally favor traditional society and its institutions rather than adopting a critical stance towards them. For universities, losing their critical stance would mean losing their cultural cache. In order to bring back true viewpoint diversity, we will first have to emancipate universities from their dependence on private funding and make them into public institutions charged with the mission of educating students in a broad-based traditional humanities and sciences curriculum necessary to full-fledged democratic citizenship. This, however, is a hard sell because most liberals want their humanities bereft of tradition, i.e., they want to hold on to their critical stance toward the U.S. and the West, whereas most conservatives want their tradition bereft of humanities and humanity, i.e., they want education that’s practical and see no value in literature, the arts, philosophy, etc. What that means, my friends, is that we’re in what social scientists like to call “a real bind.”