Real diversity includes everyone, even conservatives.
I write in response to Jon Lamberson’s article “HLS to Lose Three Assistant Profs.” Although it is always a shame when HLS loses intelligent, qualified, and popular professors, I fear the bent of the article misconstrues what I feel is HLS’s most glaring problem in faculty diversity.
Lamberson laments that two of the departing professors are women, leaving only one woman at HLS on tenure track. He points out accusingly that the only two professors granted tenure this year were both (gasp!) men. The Record backs up Lamberson’s position with an online poll at hlrecord.org: “Does HLS have enough women profs?”
This concern with gender diversity strikes me as what Justice Clarence Thomas termed “classroom aesthetics” in his dissent in the affirmative action case Grutter v. Bollinger last June. True diversity in a law school setting must involve much more than skin color and gender. HLS’s professors are desperately homogenous when it comes to a much more relevant characteristic: political ideology.
Allow me to illustrate. Last February, Dean Kagan sponsored a forum to discuss the Mass SJC same-sex marriage case. Professors Tribe, Halley, Barron, and Parker were the participants. Their opinions ranged from Prof. Tribe calling the decision “a masterpiece” to Prof. Parker agreeing with the result but accusing the SJC of arrogance in the way they chose to implement their decision. Not one of the four panelists expressed the opinion – widespread in the general public and expressed by three of the seven SJC justices themselves – that the result was dead wrong. Concerned, I wrote an email to Dean Kagan, asking why there wasn’t a professor on the panel to present the position against the SJC’s decision. She replied, “Mary Ann Glendon of course would have expressed the strongest possible disagreement with the decision. I asked her to participate, but she was unavailable. Otherwise, you’re quite right that Harvard – like other elite law schools – doesn’t have many social conservatives. . . . Who knows why that is.”
The message is loud and clear: Of the 179 people listed in HLS’s faculty directory, only one can be classified as a social conservative. Rather than trying to figure out “why that is,” HLS should be doing something to promote ideological diversity among its faculty.
A professor’s political philosophy has a much more direct impact on the educational experience of students than his or her gender or race. How many times has a professor warned students at the beginning of a course that he or she will be presenting his or her own personal take on the way the law should be interpreted or formed? Despite their invitations for students with “opposing views” to speak up, the leftist rhetoric gets monotonous. When HLS’s lone social conservative did publicly criticize the SJC’s same-sex marriage ruling (in another setting), she was shouted down by a letter/petition signed by 167 students and published in The Record. When more liberal professors publicly state their views, we don’t hear a peep of response from conservative students. It might be because The Record could never provide enough space for such rebuttals even if it were published daily, or it might be that speaking out with conservative views is close to anathema at HLS.
I believe that Dean Kagan is committed to increasing the diversity of the HLS faculty. I hope, however, that she takes seriously the problem of ideological diversity. Let’s stop worrying about how we look aesthetically, and create the kind of diversity that truly contributes to a complete educational experience.
Matt Astle, 2L
The begining (and the end) of the diversity debate
It’s a shame that the debate over the composition of the HLS faculty didn’t begin until The Record’s last issue of the academic year. Of course perhaps the two conservative columns that weigh in on the issue(see above and left) wanted to have the last word on the matter.Such is the typical want of their ilk. I have had the pleasure of doing layout for The Record this year, which means that over the course of 22 issues I have placed almost all of the text on the page and have read every article in every issue. With only a few exceptions I have sat as a quiet and impassive placer of text. But for this last issue I thought I’d break my silence one last time in order to point out what utter nonsense we print on these pages (this one in particular).
First, I find it strange that we print an article that says political diversity is “true diversity.” The claim is that political viewpoints have “more direct impact” on our education than race or gender viewpoints. What a crock.We couldn’t begin to consider the Civil War Amendments or the Civil Rights movement without minority, especially African American, viewpoints. Rape discussions in criminal law invariably bring out deep gender divisions. At least the conservative editorial (left) is willing to call for diversity on a broad range of issues, rather than claim one type of diversity is more important than another.
I am similarly dumfounded that both articles seem to call for affirmative action in the hiring of conservative professors. The response of conservatives would probably be that they have been discriminated against and that they ask not for affirmative action but for equal treatment. Well, guess what?You now realize exactly what every minority student could have already told you: past discrimination makes it very difficult to get equal treatment in the present. I guess it’s convenient that white males usually don’t need any help dominating American society, so that most of the time plucky conservatives don’t need to worry about getting caught up in their own hypocrisy.
But more generally, diversity on political issues is very different from diversity of skin-color, gender, or any other personal trait for one very important reason:conservatives are wrong. Yeah, I said it. The conservative viewpoint is bankrupt of any moral or social value. Just as you wouldn’t teach creationism in a biology class, we shouldn’t be bringing conservative profs to HLS. One would have thought that The Great Depression, the Haymarket Riots, the Civil War, Watergate, sweatshop labor in the 3rd world, and the fact that the richest one percent of Americans own 40 percent of our nation’s wealth would have led to the complete abandonment of conservative ideology. Liberal accomplishments such as the minimum wage, child labor laws, women’s suffrage, and the civil rights movement should have helped drive the nail in the coffin. But maybe a poor knowledge of history is why conservatives are always trying to destroy our nation’s schools through privatization. Either that or the money’s just too damn good.
In any case, it’s been amusing to read the many conservative columns in The Record this year. Actually, it’s been maddening. But every week I place them, at the behest of our Federalist opinion page editor and affirmative-action practicing Editor-in-chief, and every week I hear people complain about how liberal The Record has become. I hope that next year The Record will abandon its moderate ways, so that all you conservatives out there can have something real to complain about.
Jonathan Lamberson, 2L
Publisher, The Record