A new report charges that widespread politicization at the University of California has degraded instruction and scholarship at its nine undergraduate campuses. “Political purposes are so radically different from academic ones that the former will always corrupt the latter,” the study holds. Litmus test hiring, ideologically-laden course syllabi, classroom soap-boxing, and censorship of alternative voices are among the findings of A Crisis of Competence: The Corrupting Effect of Political Activism in the University of California. The California Association of Scholars produced the report for the consideration of the regents of the state’s top-tier universities.
“When individual faculty members and sometimes even whole departments decide that their aim is to advance social justice as they understand it rather than to teach the subject that they were hired to teach with all the analytical skill that they can muster, the quality of teaching and research is compromised,” the report maintains. “This is an inevitable result because, as we shall show, these two aims are incompatible with each other, so that the one must undermine the other.”
The study cites vast Democrat-Republican disparities among faculty to buttress its main allegation. At Berkeley, for instance, Democrats outnumbered Republicans by 31-1 in history, 29-1 in English, and 17-0 in sociology. Such lopsided ratios held up in the social sciences and humanities at other University of California campuses. “When we find large concentrations of activists, it is impossible to ignore the fact that this is in itself a sign of activism at work,” the California Association of Scholars contends. “Part of activism is swelling the ranks of activists.”
A skewed faculty results in a skewed curriculum. At UCLA, 58 percent the faculty want their students “to become agents of social change.” UC-Riverside’s Labor Studies Program calls for “alternative models for organizing for social justice” as a purpose of the academic field. The syllabus for UC-Santa Cruz’s “The Politics of the War on Terrorism” asks: “How did Bush and Cheney build the fiction that Al Qaeda was a participant in the 9/11 attacks?” Five departments at that school offer introductory courses on Karl Marx. The report notes, “No other political thinker has a course devoted exclusively to his thought.”
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