While we were recovering we have been reading Jay Nordlinger’s new anthology, Digging In. It is an interesting collection of columns. The second column is on Gene Genovese, the historian who made the journey from the Left to the Right. When he was early in his career at Rutgers he said he would welcome a victory by the Vietcong in Viet Nam. He recalls that the Young Republicans favored his firing but that the Young Conservatives did not. He also points out that he did not proselytize in class.
All of this leads us to the conflict between the Republican legislature in Wisconsin and University of Wisconsin System and particularly the flagship campus at Madison. As it was forty-plus years ago with Genovese it is now with Madison. Conservatives need to support free speech and academic freedom regardless of what the Republicans suggest. It is not a short-term solution but we need to encourage more speech.
The legislature can improve the speech ratio by constricting the non-academic apparatus that has grown like Topsy over the past decades. The faculty has ignored their primacy over the curriculum being taken up by various groups of student services and the like.
Sidebar: From Faculty Policies and Procedures at UW-Madison:
The university faculty has charge of all educational matters that concern more than one college, school, or division, or which are otherwise of general interest.
Every campus has something similar. It means that all academic programs should be approved by the faculty. They are not. End Sidebar.
If the GOP sticks to restraining the non-faculty budget, the university can become a better place. If as Ann Althouse suggests, we had free speech training to go with diversity training, universities would be a better place. Diversity-mania is largely, but not completely divorced from the academic side of the house. Much of the silliness can be avoided at the university. For example, don’t major in any program that ends in studies. Conservatives are not snowflakes. They can think for themselves. The Young Conservatives were right forty years ago and are still right on free speech. We hope the legislature recognizes their wisdom.