When the issue of political correctness (cultural Marxism) arose on college campuses a few years back, my colleague William S. Lind thought he had a solution. After some discussion with crack legislative attorney Mike Hammond we had a bill drafted which very simply would have cut off all Federal aid to any school which adopted a so-called speech code. This would apply to all Federal funding, including grants for basic research.
Lind reasoned that currently most faculty senates usually have an overbalance of participation from social sciences, political science and newer programs, such as feminist studies and studies of various minorities. Engineering, chemistry and other practical sciences seldom participate. They are too busy with real-world activities. Lind felt that when word went out that their grants also were in peril they would begin to participate and would help overturn these speech coaches.
We shopped this bill around for a time. Only one Senator went so far as to threaten to introduce the bill. When word circulated in this Senator’s very conservative state, with an all conservative Republican delegation, the academic community came out of the woodwork and screamed bloody murder. Eventually even this Senator backed off.
Perhaps having learned how academia will stick together on such legislation we can recognize the effort was a bit of an overreach. Yet presently a far softer bill is making its way through the South Dakota Legislature. This bill, too, is eliciting howls from academia, which is telling the Legislature that, although even in this small State, a half a billion dollars annually is provided for higher education, the Legislature should have no say as to how the institutions of higher learning conduct themselves. This bill very simply requires the six South Dakota State universities which receive State funding to annually report what steps are being taken to insure “intellectual diversity.”
By the reaction of the academic community one would think that the Legislature had demanded that these institutions hire conservatives for half the incoming faculty. The bill does no such thing. In fact, it does not tell these institutions what they must do to encourage intellectual diversity. All it does is require them to report annually about their efforts to assure that there is more of a balance in academia.