Very little about life is universally constant. There’s virtually no certainty available anywhere. Among the few areas that are-death, taxes, and idiots on U.S. 1-none remain as universally constant as liberals gravitating to the media and academia.
In a course I took a couple of years ago, a guest lecturer who happened to be a former news producer for one of the three major nightly newscasts, was asked if he thought it true that there was a preponderance of liberals in the news media. His answer, which frankly stunned me was, “Probably.” I couldn’t believe he so readily admitted this. His explanation was unexpectedly poignant-“That’s because Republicans don’t normally go in to that line of work.”
Clearly there is an overwhelming predominance of liberals working in the classroom. In my view a professor’s personal beliefs are their business.provided they keep it their business by not pontificating in front of the class. While in all fairness I will say that I personally rarely witness a professor doing just that, and then almost always in the context of a larger discussion, I have heard from friends of mine that this happens a good bit even here at UM.
One of the things I’ve been pleased to see at UM is a very fair environment where groups representing all viewpoints are free to operate. In cases where I’ve seen intolerance among liberals (and they always seem to have plenty to spare) it’s from a student, not the administration, which often goes far beyond the call to ensure fairness in UM’s public discourse. Whether it’s the College Republicans, the ACLU, Advocates for Conservative Thought, or even the local SEIU subsidiary STAND, you can find a group that fits your beliefs. We all owe a large debt of gratitude to President Shalala, Dr. Pat Whitley, and many others in the administration for cultivating that environment.
Since the SEIU labeled “Strategic Strike” began on the first of March (as quoted by the Miami Herald), many members of the faculty have decided to symbolically support the effort. While I personally find such an act to be a prime example of symbolism over substance given that there are more professors off campus than actual UNICCO workers, everyone should do what they feel is right. Which is why I think that it speaks very highly of those individual professors, who while personally wishing to go off campus and support SEIU, let their students decide. One professor that I spoke to who had personally taken part in campus sit-ins during the Vietnam War felt that the students should have the final say. While surprised that they voted to stay in the classroom, the professor respected that decision and held those classes in their normal location.
Regardless of what some will tell you UM’s first responsibility is our education, not labor-management relations, especially with non-university employees. Putting the students first should always be the first responsibility. Anything else is a distant second.
Scott Wacholtz is a graduate student in the history department. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.