|Check Out All Those Orthodox Liberals|
Makes You Want To Shudder, Doesn't It?
First off, regarding the status quo, I'm dubious about the need for this law. Having hired a fair number of South Dakota public university graduates over the past decades, I've found them to be competent, level-headed, moderate in their political and ideological views--and reflective of a sound educational structure that trained them well and turned them into excellent models of engaged and productive citizenry. If readers have had markedly different impressions of their SD public university hires, I'd love to hear from them--and doubt very seriously that I will. Our colleges are doing their jobs and doing them well.
As much was effectively conceded by David Randall, director of research for the National Association of Scholars. NAS is an organization that seeks to counter "liberal bias" in academia. During deliberations over the bill, he told lawmakers that South Dakota was "not as far down the road" as other states, but that it was only a matter of time before orthodoxy of liberal ideology would reduce intellectual diversity. Horrified by the prospect, senators passed the bill 26-7, representatives went for it 51-12. Orthodox liberal ideology didn't stand a chance.
More compellingly, neither did common sense. This gratuitous and probably unenforceable statute can't be implemented because intellectual diversity can't be quantified and can't be defined. For one thing, diversity of opinion exists within individuals, so how do you classify, say, an applicant with strongly held liberal beliefs about personal behavior and equally strong beliefs about fiscally conservative public policy? Considering that the universities "must create hiring practices to ensure the composition of the faculty and administration reflects a broad range of ideological viewpoints," how does said socially liberal/fiscally conservative individual fit into an ideologically balanced faculty? For another, who determines bias? South Dakota's Republican-dominated government? Please.
This law is a political statement by a legislature committed to controlling every aspect of public life with the heavy hand of government. I remember when Republicans were repulsed by that notion.