Obviously, Republicans have no understanding of academia at all

You’ve probably heard already that several Republican legislatures want to dictate the ideology of their universities. The American Association of University Professors has sent out this email:

Shortly after the 2016 election, the AAUP warned that we could be facing the greatest threat to academic freedom since the McCarthy period. It now appears that such a warning was not misplaced. Extremists in the administration, Congress, and several state houses have created an atmosphere in which “alternative facts” reign supreme, and which encourages the introduction of legislation that threatens the core principles of our democracy.

The latest examples of extreme legislation come from Iowa and North Carolina. In Iowa, a bill has been introduced that would prohibit the hiring of a professor or instructor at a public university or college if his or her most recent party affiliation would “cause the percentage of the faculty belonging to one political party to exceed by 10 percent” the percentage of the faculty belonging to the other dominant party.

In North Carolina, legislation (since tabled) was introduced that would require tenure-track and tenured faculty members to “reflect the ideological balance of the citizens of the state,” so that no campus “shall have a faculty ideological balance of greater or less than 2 percent of the ideological balance” of North Carolinians.

Many may rightly believe that initiatives like these cannot pass and that if passed they would be overturned immediately by the courts. However, the introduction of such legislation has a chilling effect. Moreover, implicit in these proposals is the demand that prospective and current faculty members disclose their political affiliations and personal political views as a condition of employment, which is precisely what happened during the McCarthy period.

The AAUP opposes in the strongest terms any legislation that would create an ideological or political litmus test as a qualification for employment as a faculty member at a university or college. Our commitment to academic freedom is rooted in a vision of democracy that thrives on dissent, critical inquiry, free speech, and free research. We will continue to join with other organizations to resist threats to academic freedom, legislative intrusions into higher education, and harassment of faculty.

These are stupid initiatives, and normally I’d laugh them off and suggest that no way could they actually come to pass, but then I thought there was no way our stupid candidate could come to the highest office in the country.


  1. jrkrideau says

    Not only is this chilling it is wildly stupid and parochial.

    What happens when you get a Christen Democrat, a Podemos and a Labour Party applicant?

    I am pretty sure that North Carolina legislator would not understand the difference between an Australian Liberal and a Canadian Liberal. But then, it’s not clear to me the legislator could tie their own shoes.

  2. Siobhan says

    I’m also tempted to see what kind of reaction I’d get for disclosing registration with Canada’s Communist Party. (Yes, we have one, no, it doesn’t go anywhere).

  3. cartomancer says

    Aren’t these the same people who throw tantrums about any kind of affirmative action to address the under-representation of minorities in the workforce, professoriate or student body?

    One wonders how they would react to a law that proposed a freeze on hiring white people until the teaching staff of a university represented the percentage ethnic make-up of its local area. Or a freeze on hiring men until gender representation was achieved?

  4. jrkrideau says

    @4 Siobhan

    Communist Party of Canada? Are they not on the Endangered Species List?

    I think the result would be something like a snake at picnic or perhaps Ian Paisley meeting the Pope.

  5. porkypine says

    Assuming that these laws pass, and Betsy DeVos gets her way of funneling Government money to religious schools, wouldn’t all of the Christian Colleges that accept that government money have to follow the same rules? A similar realization is what killed earlier attempt to pass blasphemy laws.

  6. fentex says

    It took me a long time to (I think) get my head around this two party state registration thing the U.S has, and one of the treasons it is so hard for many foreigners to comprehend it, I think, is how obviously it lends itself to abuse by easily sorting people into pro and con boxes by authority.

    Just like this.

    If any politician in NZ so much as intimated using some-ones ‘party’ membership as a litmus test for some law their career would be over – not least because of questions over how they could possibly know such a thing (private membership of organizations not being a matter of public record).

  7. Rick Pikul says

    @jrkrideau #6

    We don’t have a communist party, we have two:

    The Communist Party of Canada[1]
    The Marxist-Lenninist Party of Canada

    The New Democrat Party also used to be accused of being the “Canadian Communist Farmers” back when their name was the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation.

    [1] The CPC is not to be confused with the CPC(non-Marxist), AKA the Reformatories.

  8. katiemarshall says

    I think the thing I find both hilarious and chilling is that the bill so so clearly has no idea about the large number of professors who are immigrants. Political affiliation is meaningless for those of us who can’t vote. And honestly, most of us who are from civilized nations look at both the Dems and Repubs and wonder why the USA doesn’t have a left-wing party.

  9. jrkrideau says

    @ 9 Rick Pikul

    I forgot all about the Marxist-Leninist Party, yet I have the vague feeling that we may have had a Marxist-Leninist on the ballot for the last Federal election in my riding. I recall we had a few ‘fringe’ candidates.

    I remember one of professors in grad school was a “communist”of some flavour, probably Marxist-Leninist. At one point he was organizing a memorial evening for Enver Hoxha.

  10. Crimson Clupeidae says

    Heh. I’ve been registered as a republican since I was 18.

    I think, in all the elections I’ve voted in, I voted fro about 10% republicans. I always try to help out in the primaries though…. :)