Steven Bernstetter

Currently making its way through the house is an "intellectual diversity" bill intended to:

require all public institutions of higher education to report how they are safeguarding the free exchange of ideas on campus

Or so says an article in the Columbia Daily Tribune. The article concerns a report from MSU regarding the school's Social Work program. Accordign to the Tribune:

The future of the School of Social Work at Missouri State University is in doubt after an external review of the program found a "dysfunctional and hostile" environment where faculty colleagues are disrespectful to one another and students fear voicing their opinions.

MO legislators contend that this kind of disfunction within one of the state's largest universities will be prevented by an "intellectual diversity" law, because such a measure would force faculty and staff to accept and express any and all ideas while not advocating any one idea specifically. This sounds all sweet and nice, and in the interest of promoting "diversity," but the fact of the matter is this: while its your right to believe whatever you wish, in the world of academia, some ideas carry more weight than others. Honest professors advocating the best ideas on their academic merits is largely how the enterprise of human knowledge moves forward; not by giving equal voice to unequal theories in the interest of protecting someone else's sacred cows. With that in mind, students and professors alike should be free to challenge the bases and conclusions of those theories, and to advance their own theories and beliefs for the rigors of serious academic discourse to validate.

Further demonstrating the frivolity of this bill is an article in the Springfield News-Leader showing the effectiveness of the University in policing its own. This is proof positive that our best and brightest, working honestly and openly in the marketplace of ideas, is the best garauntee against intellectual dishonesty and close-minded demagoguery. No legislation is needed to augment the marketplace of ideas.

About the Author

Steven Bernstetter