The Dartmouth Observer

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Wednesday, February 11, 2004
The Chronicle of Higher Education today carries a neat package of stories: conservative students bite back against the so-called liberal bias in academia. Which reminds me of the original Michael Berube article and the ensuing debate.

First things first, from today's Chronicle story:

"When students like myself feel alienated, that drastically compromises the educational environment," says Mr. Miller, the Duke freshman. "We need a completely, utterly, entirely unbiased pursuit of knowledge."

Frankly, the point of education is not to coddle and protect students' political viewpoints and keep them from feeling 'alienated' - it is to challenge those viewpoints, liberal and conservative alike, and make them think long and hard about why they hold the views they hold. How many students at age eighteen or twenty-two have actually thought out their political ideals and can explain them coherently and rationally? I probably couldn't. How many of those students have been politically aware beyond the Clinton and Dubya administrations? Not me. The end result of having your viewpoint challenged could be that your politics shift. Or your arguments for one or the other becoming stronger and clearer and more solidly supported.

As for academia's hostility towards conservatives, the problem is not political views, it is sheer human rudeness, combativeness and ungraciousness. On both sides. These are the same people who, as students, start Blitz wars, with the rest of us clinging tight to our inboxes begging to be taken off the list.