21
APR
2017

Professor “Loyalty Oaths” of Today

Concerns about Communist sympathizers indoctrinating American students
during the 1940s led to loyalty oaths; oaths signed by professors stating they
were not communist nor had they associated with communists.

The American Association of University Professors was concerned about the
future of academic freedom in the United States as a result of unpopular
opinions or government whims, especially when oath violation was “policed”
like the witch hunts of the 1600s. Then the free-thinking 1960s evolved into
the 1970s. Our country disavowed the loyalty oaths directly related to
communism. We were ashamed of the resulting witch hunts, vowing that
this would never happen again.

Now colleges require faculty to write diversity statements for hiring and
promotion, statements such as that at Virginia Tech, in which “candidates
should include a list of activities that promote or contribute to inclusive
teaching, research, outreach and service.” Diversity in this case is limited to
race, gender, and sexual orientation. The diversity list leaves out diversity
of ideas.

The study, “Professors and Their Politics: The Policy View of Social Scientists,”
by Daniel B. Klein and Charlotta Stern found: “The academic social sciences
are pretty much a one party system. Were the Democratic tent broad, the
one-party system might have intellectual diversity. But the data show almost
no diversity of opinion among the Democratic professors when it comes to the
regulatory, redistributive state: they like it.” Social scientists help shape our
society. Lacking a diversity of thought these professors may not see the whole
animal.

I am reminded of the blind men and the elephant. Each man took hold of part
of the elephant and determined that was the entire animal. The man with the
trunk was certain the elephant was like a snake while the man with the tail
knew the elephant was like a rope. Without the diversity of ideas and the
willingness to listen and learn, freedom of expression is no longer existed for
these men. Each man KNEW he was right. He held the evidence in his hand.
Each man wouldn’t listen to or consider a different opinion.

Our greater worry comes from Vladimir Lenin: “Give me four years to teach
the children and the seed I have sown will never be uprooted.” It shouldn’t
require a diversity oath for professors to teach our students. We should all
respect others, regardless of race, gender, or sexual orientation, simply
because our similarities are greater than our differences.

But if we never leave our safe spaces or take a chance on a subject that
requires a trigger warning, we will become diverse in the things matter less:
physical characteristics. And we will become narrow minded in the things
that matter more: ideas and knowledge.

Susan Teerlink is the accountability and admissions coach for College Funding Advisors, LLC,
located in Harrisonburg, VA. She was also a co-author on the book Secrets Of How To Avoid
Overpaying For College  and is involved with GRASP, the Great Aspirations Scholarship
Program, a non-profit based in Richmond, Virginia.  You can read her other articles at
www.collegeplanningvirginia.com.

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