Am I making up these quotes?

[F]or all the hoopla given to diversity at this school, there is relatively little diversity of thought.

Although I don’t know the views of all the faculty members, I think you’re right. Not just on the issue of Jena 6, but in general. I would like to see an openly socialist professor passionately debating an openly libertarian professor. How come I don’t see that? Everyone would benefit from that. I just don’t see much disagreement at Williams. The more disagreements, the more heated debates, the better.

Seriously, though, it is a shame that there isn’t more diversity of thought amongst Williams faculty. It’s safe to say that their political leanings are predominantly to the left, though viewpoints on discrete issues are obviously much more complex. I would note, though, that there have been debates between professors of different ideological backgrounds. I wasn’t here for it, but one of the more contentious ones occurred between faculty regarding the invasion of Iraq…

So, the last time that a Williams professor publicly professed an idea that might be considered conservative/Republican was, what, 5 years ago? Good to know! Comments:

1) Williams has a problem with the lack of ideological diversity on the faculty. The first step in dealing with any problem is admitting that you have one. When I have brought up this topic in the past, many/most readers have claimed that the lack of professors willing to publicly defend their actual conservative/Republican/libertarian beliefs is a non-issue. Yeah? Tell it to students like Gary Jin, Achbold Battogtokh and Andrew Wang.

2) Previous discussion and related links here, here and here. One reason that no faculty member who is suspicious of the Jena Six will come take the other side at a teach-in is fear of retribution from his liberal colleagues. Or do you think that Professor Kirby was lying when he explained why he kept his (libertarian) politics to himself.

I did keep my views entirely to myself, but not because I was advised to do so. I had seen (on separate occasions) a senior faculty member make positive comments about a leftist job candidate and disparaging comments about a Republican student in department meetings, and these comments yielded assent from other faculty members. As a non-tenured libertarian these and other subtle signals scared me. I thought it prudent to keep quiet.

Indeed. What is the upside for a faculty member going to a Jena Six teach-in and arguing with the usual progressives? Not much, other than their undying enmity. Have fun with that! Even a tenured faculty member is stuck with these folks for decades to come. Who needs the hassle?

3) This has little to do with what goes on inside a Williams classroom and everything to do with political dialog in the Williams community. 98% of classroom teaching is not affected by ideology. (And it sure is fun to mock the remaining 2%!) The key issue is the campus conversation, events outside of class. Why was no conservative faculty member present at the Jena Six teach in? (My personal opinion is that, more or less, the Jena Six have been treated fairly by the justice system.) Was no conservative faculty member invited? If so, shame on the organizers! That’s not a teach-in; it’s an indoctrinate-in. Or was no conservative faculty member willing to speak out, or even available? If so, shame on Williams.

4) My opponents on this will point out that, as with finding more African American faculty, there is a problem with the small size of the pool. If all the political science Ph.D.’s are liberal, there is no way that Williams can expand the ideological diversity of its faculty. There is some truth to that. But the people who run Williams have no interest in ideological diversity even when they have a chance for it. Evidence?

First, we have the Iraq War teach-in from last year. I e-mailed Professor Singham to see if either a) pro-war speakers were invited and/or b) if she needed such speakers, I might attend. She was not polite enough to reply. Now, it’s a free country and Professor Singham does not need to reply to my e-mails if she does not want to. But if Gary Jin, Achbold Battogtokh and Andrew Wang are wondering why there are no non-students, much less faculty members, at these sorts of events at Williams, it is because of faculty like Singham. She has no interest in ideological diversity.

Second, I have applied to teach at Williams, on several occasions and in multiple departments. Nothing but rejection so far (although something might work out for Winter Study 2009). But this topic provides another opportunity, so I just sent Morty an e-mail (and cc’d those three students). See below for a copy.

Now, these rejections are almost certainly not driven by my politics. The MATH/STAT department wouldn’t care if I were a Marxist. But, at the same time, the fact that my politics don’t count in my favor is evidence that no one in power cares about ideological diversity. Being a member of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy, Eph Division may not count against me but it certainly doesn’t count for me.

Consider a hypothetical: What if I were African-American? Would Williams let me teach a one semester class? I am pretty sure (contrary opinions welcome) that Williams would, that it values racial diversity enough to make that happen. Ideological diversity? Not so much.


Hope that all is well with you and yours. There is an interesting thread on WSO about ideological diversity among the Williams faculty. Three students (cc’d above) mentioned that they would like to see more of it. I am here to help! As you may recall, I mentioned teaching at Williams to you a few years ago. On that occasion, your (good) advice was to try to find some faculty who were interested in my application. Well, I have tried and gotten some interest, but, alas no offers. So, I thought, given the concerns expressed by these students, that it was worthwhile to raise the issue again with you.

I would like to teach a semester class at Williams. I would be happy to do so for free. I require neither salary nor benefits. I am flexible about department and topic. Here is the syllabus that I worked up a year ago:

But, again, I am flexible. As you may recall, I am qualified to teach such a class (Ph.D. in Political Economy and Government; former member of the Harvard faculty; current Institute Fellow). I continue to be active in academic affairs, giving a talk at the Joint Statistical Meeting last summer and organizing a panel for next year. Relevant links include:

I could put together a much more formal application and CV, if that would be helpful. I can also provide references, both from my academic colleagues and former students.

Of course, just having someone teach another class does not solve Gary Jin, Achbold Battogtokh and Andrew Wang’s problem with the lack of (public) ideological diversity among the faculty. But, if I were on the faculty, I can promise you that I would make my politics loud and clear, that I would attend (if invited) events like the recent Jena Six teach-in and provide a different viewpoint, always within the context of open-minded and respectful discussion, just like the ones that you and I had in ECON 401 exactly 20 years ago.

I can’t solve all the problems in the world, but I can solve the problem of the lack of ideological diversity on the Williams faculty.

Your former student,

Dave Kane ’88

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