Unliberal Liberal Arts

The Golf Shot Heard Round the Academic World,” by David Feith, The Wall Street Journal, 4/6/2013.

BowdoinThe incident began innocently one day when the president of Bowdoin College was having a friendly golf match with an important philanthropist, a potential big-time donor to the college.  Bowdoin College is a liberal arts college in Brunswick, Maine, that emphasizes diversity and tolerance of other people’s customs and ideas—all very politically correct, and proud of it.  You know the type.

Just as The Pres was in mid-swing, as he tells it, he was interrupted by Potential Donor who declared, “I would never support Bowdoin—you are a ridiculous liberal school that brings all the wrong students to campus for all the wrong reasons.”  Whoa, that’s harsh, but college presidents expect to win some and lose some.

The whole episode would have been forgotten, except The Pres mentioned it a few weeks later in an address to the Freshman class.  His comments got back to Potential Donor who recognized he was the one referred to.

He did not take it kindly.  Nor sitting down.

“He didn’t like my views, so he turned me into a backswing-interrupting, Bowdoin-hating boor who wants to return to the segregated days of Jim Crow,” wrote Potential Donor in a published article.  “I explained my disapproval of diversity as it generally has been implemented on college campuses— too much celebration of racial and ethnic difference [coupled with] not enough celebration of our common American identity.”

He was especially miffed that The Pres said what he did in an address that stressed the need to respect the opinions of others.  “Would it be uncharitable to suggest that in a speech calling for more sensitivity . . . he might have shown some?”  Potential Donor did not stop with a simple rebuttal.  He commissioned researchers to examine Bowdoin’s commitment to intellectual diversity, rigorous academics, and civic identity.

Recently, some 18 months and hundreds of pages of documentation later, the project was complete.  Bowdoin comes out smelling like freshly-turned Kennett Square mushroom soil..

The researchers found an obsession by Bowdoin with race, class, gender and sexuality as the essential forces of history. They found a dedication to a policy of saving the planet from its imminent destruction by greedy capitalism, and support of “global citizenship,” i.e., loving all countries except our own.

Even history students, they found, are not required to take any courses in American history, but all freshmen are required to take a seminar with titles such as “Affirmative Action and U.S. Society,” “Fictions of Freedom,” “Racism,” “Queer Gardens” (which examines how gays and lesbians find expression in their gardens), “Sexual Life of Colonialism” and “Modern Western Prostitutes.”

The college reacted to the report with a shrug, but it will be interesting to see how long The Pres will stay The Pres.



About Roger Walck

My reasons for writing this blog are spelled out in the posting of 10/1/2012, Montaigne's Essays. They are probably not what you think.
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