Student Assembly (pictured at a September meeting) voted down a resolution on Thursday that was aimed at increasing faculty "ideological diversity" at Cornell

Haewon Hwang / Sun Staff Photographer

Student Assembly (pictured at a September meeting) voted down a resolution on Thursday that was aimed at increasing faculty "ideological diversity" at Cornell

February 9, 2017

Student Assembly Narrowly Votes Down Resolution to Increase Faculty ‘Ideological Diversity’

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A contentious Student Assembly meeting on Thursday ended with the Assembly chair breaking a tie by voting against a resolution that would have created a task force to investigate and increase faculty “ideological diversity.”

The resolution, Expanding Ideological Diversity among Faculty Members, spurred a chaotic 90-minute discussion that frequently resulted in calls of order from S.A. President and Chair Jordan Berger ’17 and shouts from Assembly members and the resolution’s advocates.

The resolution would have called on the Faculty Senate, with the University Counsel Office, to create a task force to “investigate practical steps toward attaining increased faculty ideological diversity.”

Mitchell McBride ‘17, the resolution’s sponsor and vice president for internal operations, pushed back against assemblymembers who said the resolution was solely aimed toward hiring more politically conservative faculty members, countering that it was about broadening general class discussion.

“Having more ideological diversity on campus would help students because I think that if students go into class and are faced with a professor with different views than them, then they’re tasked with challenging every single subtle assumption the teacher puts out,” McBride said.

But many members of the Assembly did not buy that argument — noting that the resolution refers to a 2015 report in The Sun that showed 96 percent of faculty donations over four years went to Democratic campaigns — and some people speaking in favor of the resolution contradicted McBride’s statements.

“We are a severe political minority on campus,” Cornell Republicans Chairwoman Olivia Corn ’19 said, referring to Republican-leaning students. Corn and others in favor of the resolution frequently cited the majority of liberal-leaning professors in several departments.

Assemblymember Richard Wang ’17 added an amendment to the resolution identifying conservative perspectives that sponsors of the bill were trying to increase, citing what he said were the “intentions of the authors during the meeting.”

McBride told The Sun after the meeting that he saw the addition of that amendment, which passed 14 to 4, as a “poison pill amendment to kill the bill.” He maintained that the lack of conservatives among Cornell faculty is a problem and said it was “disheartening and demoralizing” that the resolution did not pass.

“If we are truly going to live up to our university motto, we must have free and diverse thought, and this requires professors who come from different perspectives, in order to foster that critical thinking which is the purpose of a university,” he said.

Pg-1-Willard-Straight-Memorial-Room-by-Jason-Ben-Nathan-Staff1

Jason Ben Nathan / Sun Senior Photographer

Many members of S.A. believed the bill was specifically aimed at increasing the number of non-liberal professors

Assemblymember Traciann Celestin ’19 said devoting time and resources to researching ideological diversity would take away from efforts to increase other kinds of diversity among faculty that she said should take priority.

“As a black female on this campus, I know that black students have been fighting for their rights here and have been trying to form committees like this since 1969 when they took over this very building,” she said, referring to the takeover of Willard Straight Hall in April 1969.

Celestin added that attempts to increase racial and economic diversity among faculty would likely result in more diverse ideological viewpoints.

Assemblymember Hannah Reichel ’17 said the hostile conversation taking place in the Memorial Room on Thursday night was a microcosm of the increased politicization and polarization of conversations at the national level.

“If there are students who feel not safe on this campus, for any reason, we should be looking into that and that’s why this resolution has some weight for me,” Reichel said. “This contemporary tendency to politicize everything and … decide whose diversity is more important, I’m so sick of that conversation.”

After a motion to send the resolution to the Diversity Committee failed to garner enough votes, the Assembly held a roll call vote on the final version of the resolution.

The Assembly deadlocked at 10 to 10, with three members abstaining, forcing Berger to break the tie, which she did with a vote against the resolution.

When the vote was announced, a student shouted to Corn and others that they should call Fox News personality Jesse Watters over dinner and tell him about the vote.

The provocative Fox News correspondent was told to leave campus by Cornell Media Relations in 2015 when he and a camera crew asked students about political “indoctrination.” Watters was able to continue his interviews off of campus property.

Corn declined to comment after the Assembly meeting on whether College Republicans are in contact with or plan to reach out to Watters about the resolution.

“I think this was absolutely ridiculous,” Corn told The Sun of the Assembly vote. “We need to create a safe environment for every student and I don’t have that environment when I walk into the classroom and a teacher tells me that ideology is violent and oppressive.”

The resolution is dead unless, at the next Assembly meeting, one of the members who voted against the bill motions to resurrect it and two-thirds of the Assembly agrees.

35 thoughts on “Student Assembly Narrowly Votes Down Resolution to Increase Faculty ‘Ideological Diversity’

  1. This is certainly what can be expected from the brain dead liberals. The vote proves that their arguments for diversity are total shams, as we always knew. The alleged justification for affirmative action is to expose the university community to diverse perspectives. When given the opportunity to do exactly that, it was voted down. The real reason for affirmative action is to avoid accusations of racism, which minorities are all too willing to voice.

  2. Perhaps we should consider there is a reason that it is hard to find conservatives among academics. Perhaps the two ways of thinking are not very compatible? Might it be hard to be socially conservative when you are working to push and further your field of study on a regular basis. Academics don’t often want in their work to stick with previous ways of doing things or thinking about things while socially conservative groups are often looking back to “the good old days.”

    • Or maybe intelligent conservatives prefer to spend their time working on projects that actually contribute to society and have a real world impact.

    • The opposite was actually true through most of the history of academia. It only changed when there was a surge by radical extremists on the left in the 60s and 70s to shut down intellectual discourse in many areas of the humanities and push out any dissent. They decided that the means justified the ends because of their opposition the McCarthy era’s oppression of the left in other areas of society and general threat to the concept of academia as well as the subsequent drive for the Vietnam War, etc. which they attributed entirely to the right.

    • “Perhaps we should consider there is a reason that it is hard to find conservatives among academics.”

      Or perhaps the lack of conservative academics has more to do with the ever expanding ideological and purposely non-academic Africana/ethnic/women’s/gender/Americana/etc. “studies” and sociology departments to which admins and self-interested profs funnel affirmative action students to guarantee they graduate with a Cornell degree. Yeah diversity! Frankly, I believe it’s the professors that teach these pseudo-intellectual “disciplines” who most fiercely oppose the university hiring conservative professors because they do not want their slap-dick, silly “scholarship” challenged on the regular.

  3. Do students seriously want their professors selected not just because of their expertise in their chosen fields but because of their politics? How would such hiring be done? Would job applicants , in addition to describing their research and their teaching philosophy, have to submit a statement about their political beliefs too? The mind boggles. Would every Dept have to have its resident libertarian, its socialist, its alt -right person, etc, in addition to its specialists in, say, Victorian literature or international develop ment? What if no one with such political beliefs chose to study the field in question? (Which, by the way is what studies have shown causes the clustering of people with certain political attitudes in certain fields–occupational choices made by the people involved.)
    Only if a biologist does not believe in evolution would ideology be relevant in hiring.
    As a faculty member here for decades I can say that in my Dept we never inquire about the political beliefs or affiliation of anyone we hire. And that’s as it should be.

    • Your question, Faculty member, could as well be asked about diversity of skin color – do students seriously want their professors selected not just because of their expertise in the their chosen fields but because of their skin color (or ethnicity, etc.)? Would every department have to have its resident African American, Latino, LGBTQ, etc? You may not ask about political beliefs when hiring, but clearly their is something wrong when the US is evenly divided and Cornell’s faculty is 95% liberal.

      • I work here. We are constantly told there are not enough African Americans, and women in our field (Computer Science). So naturally the university FORCES the hiring of these minorities. It’s like saying their aren’t enough wolves living in the desert then air lifting them in. There is a reason wolves don’t live in a desert.

        There are NO barriers stopping minorities from studying Computer Science. If they CHOOSE (a word the left doesn’t understand) to not study in this field then that is THEIR choice. Forcing people into a field in the long run will only hurt that field.

        • Only one small barrier… Like in most top fields, Black and Latino job candidates are passed over in tech hiring, even if they do study it.

          “A USA Today study discloses that top universities graduate black and Hispanic computer science and computer engineering students at twice the rate that leading technology companies hire them. Although these companies state they don’t have a qualified pool of applicants, the evidence does not support that claim.” Forbes 8/12/15

          Also, wolves do live in the desert.
          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arabian_wolf
          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mexican_wolf

          • Perhaps you should consider the fact that the admissions bar is much lower for black and hispanic students. According to the Espenshade-Radford study out of Princeton, blacks need 310 less points out of 1600 than whites to get a place at a top university, hispanics need 130 less, and asians need 140 MORE. So, it is very possible that even those minorities that do graduate from top universities are not the best of the graduating class; in fact, according to the SAT scores, it is more likely than not. This completely explains difference in grad rates vs, hiring rates.

          • @Frank Rizzo: the leap from SAT scores to college success is specious, so don’t be so confident. There are numerous studies that show that, and has to do with why many colleges are stopping the requirement altogether. The study you cite shows more about the fact that the test might not actually measure anything except someone’s ability to afford an SAT coach than it doesn’t about intelligence.

            FWIW, I coached underserved high school students on the SAT (yep, Black and Latino kids) and a few hours a week of help that they would have had to pay for otherwise (and which most college-bound middle-class American kids do pay for) raised their scores an average of 700 points. All I had to do was show them how to take the blasted test, not teach them anything new.

            I can’t stand the “in fact” attitude people have about the most pointless institutionalized tests of intelligence. These tests are developed by companies that prey on people’s inability to conceive that anyone might create a test that measures almost nothing and sell it to them with zero consequences. Snake oil in scantron form.

      • It is not at all clear that the faculty is 95% liberal. In many fields conservatives dominate, most notably economics. I have no idea where that statistic comes from, parent. Even if faculty who give money for political purposes tend to donate to the Democratic Party, there are many faculty members who don’t donate to partisan causes.
        It seems to me that if you want to promote “ideological diversity” because conservative students feel isolated in certain courses, then you should also (for consistency) support ethnic, racial, gender, etc diversity because students who fall into those categories feel equally isolated.
        My position is that political ideology should have nothing to do with faculty hiring, period. I know of no Cornell department that applies such a test to its members. There is no evidence that that has happened–unless you or someone else can supply it–other than what seems to be the end result, the proclivities/beliefs of professors in certain fields. But as another commentator has said about minorities and computer science, and as I pointed out in my initial comment, that result has to do with the choices that we all make as to occupation. I could have made a great deal more money in my career, for example, had I gone into a more lucrative field. I chose not to, because I love the subject I study, and I enjoy teaching undergraduates. That was my choice and it has been the choice of my colleagues. Others, including many of my own students, have made other choices, as is their right.

        • It’s obvious that it happened because this change happened relatively recently (within the last 50 years). Moreover, when we look at the top individuals in areas outside of academia, there is no political tilt. The best doctors, lawyers, engineers, architects, accountants, etc. all hold a broad range of political philosophies. Yet the professors teaching these disciplines are almost 100% very very very far left. I spent six years at Cornell as a student and never encountered a single professor who wasn’t very far left. And this was as an engineering major, so most of my professors shouldn’t have been making their political beliefs known during class time.

          You falsely claim that for logical consistency one should also support race/gender/etc. based hiring. You simultaneously assert that there is no evidence of academia being liberal because of the lack of Quid Pro Quo level evidence. Where is this standard of evidence of yours met for demonstrating the need for race/gender/etc. based hiring? Even back in the 1950s when racism was a huge problem, much of the discrimination didn’t exist in requirements written on paper (yes, I know some did). Today when people discuss racism, sexism, etc. it’s not about explicit laws against these groups. It’s about societal forces influencing outcomes. How is this different?

          I’m not claiming this is a formal metric on an evaluation or something of the sort. Rather, there is an unspoken bias and implicit understanding that if you do not conform to the political culture, even if you’re studying something like math or physics, you will be discriminated against. I should add that I say this as a liberal and a democrat, just not one as extreme as academia has become.

        • Faculty Member, I’m not sure what planet you’re on, but as an adult student at Cornell, it is overwhelmingly obvious that the vast majority of professors are liberal, if not very liberal, especially in the humanities. Relativism runs amuck. It’s a giant echo chamber where ideas aren’t being challenged. If you can’t see this, it’s probably because you’re in the bubble.

        • Political affiliation is actually relevant when discussing politics, which is central to studies in almost all of the humanities. Skin color doesn’t have anything to do with any academic discipline, thus we shouldn’t care about it when hiring. There is no black vs white perspective on say economics, at least not in any intellectual sense. There are obviously many different perspectives on economics rising from political views.

  4. While I agree with the belief that the heavy skew of left-leaning professors and administrators is problematic and flies in the face of the “open minds” concept held by the university, the answer is not another level of forced bureaucracy. From experience, being a conservative on campus (this was prior to the Trump phenomenon, by the way) oftentimes puts you on par with the devil himself, and on more than one occasion led to me being called a ‘racist, sexist, homophobic misogynist, etc etc etc.’ – we all know the drill by now. This was through no comment I made, other than that I was “moderately conservative.”

    With little exception, the moderate Republican/Democrat is a dying breed on college campuses, and with the continued push to demonize these groups in hopes of bullying them into a new position, it only serves to drive the sides of the aisle further apart. Just as under the Obama administration with conservatives saying, “he bullied me so I am going to drive further right!” the answer to any comment from the Trump administration from progressives so far is, “he bullied me so I am going to drive further left!” Neither strategy is, in any way, constructive, and until the two sides are willing to sit down and ACTUALLY listen to one another, nothing will change.

    college campuses are said to be the nest of the enlightened, so to the enlightened, I offer this challenge: Stop and listen. Do not argue, converse. Stop demonizing, and start working to understand. Do not say, “X did it first so I am just responding!” Instead of assuming that your view is the only path forward, realize that there is a whole lot more world just past the blinders you choose not to look past. For both sides, you might be shocked at how similar you actually are at the end of the day.

    • As a moderate liberal, I couldn’t agree more. I also got the whole racist, sexist, … thing even being on the left just because I’m not as extreme as many at Cornell.

  5. LOL, the left LOVES diversity and jamming it down your throat until it calls for diversity amongst themselves. Then suddenly it’s a bad thing.

    I guess the left can have their cake AND eat it too. Being a center leaning independent in the Ithaca area like myself makes logical thinking hard.

  6. Diversity of ideas? Diversity of ideas? We don’t need no stinking diversity of ideas! We are an elitist ultra liberal university and don’t you forget it!

  7. An article about conservatives? You guys, I am triggered! I need a safe space, right about now. Who wants to go with me to protest on Ho Plaza about Cornell Sun publishing about racist people?

  8. So much for independent thought and acceptance of different ideologies. That’s the ‘party of inclusion’ for you… Oh yeah, farewell to my donations, too.

  9. While there have been many expressions of anger here, no one has addressed the point I raised initially. Just HOW could the sort of diversity of faculty opinion that seems to be wanted here, be accomplished during the hiring process? How would a department determine the political beliefs of those applying for jobs without an intrusive inquiry into personal ideology? Inquiring minds want to know.

    • Copied from a previous reply to you:

      It’s obvious that it happened because this change happened relatively recently (within the last 50 years). Moreover, when we look at the top individuals in areas outside of academia, there is no political tilt. The best doctors, lawyers, engineers, architects, accountants, etc. all hold a broad range of political philosophies. Yet the professors teaching these disciplines are almost 100% very very very far left. I spent six years at Cornell as a student and never encountered a single professor who wasn’t very far left. And this was as an engineering major, so most of my professors shouldn’t have been making their political beliefs known during class time.

      You falsely claim that for logical consistency one should also support race/gender/etc. based hiring. You simultaneously assert that there is no evidence of academia being liberal because of the lack of Quid Pro Quo level evidence. Where is this standard of evidence of yours met for demonstrating the need for race/gender/etc. based hiring? Even back in the 1950s when racism was a huge problem, much of the discrimination didn’t exist in requirements written on paper (yes, I know some did). Today when people discuss racism, sexism, etc. it’s not about explicit laws against these groups. It’s about societal forces influencing outcomes. How is this different?

      I’m not claiming this is a formal metric on an evaluation or something of the sort. Rather, there is an unspoken bias and implicit understanding that if you do not conform to the political culture, even if you’re studying something like math or physics, you will be discriminated against. I should add that I say this as a liberal and a democrat, just not one as extreme as academia has become.

    • This is a good question. It all starts at the top. As an example of what needs to change, let’s look at the recent visit by Rick Santorum. Repeatedly interrupted, and yet the rude students were allowed to remain. Now, let’s imagine that some well-known progressive speaker was invited to speak at Cornell, and a bunch of students repeatedly interrupted and harassed the speaker. What do you think would happen? They would be told to leave.

  10. Universities have become liberal echo chambers … one big circle jerk of Leftist ideas … whoever is the biggest victim is the best person

    They need to be shut down – at this point they are just factories for producing more Leftists who can’t think logically

  11. Reason and logic can no longer work with the liberals. We must give the liberals a taste of their own medicines if we want to stop their madness.

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