Other voices, on UM professor’s remarks

As a Republican and a member of the University of Michigan Board of Regents, I find Professor Susan Douglas’ column extremely troubling and offensive.

The University of Michigan community rightly supports and defends a wide variety of viewpoints and a diversity of opinion on all subjects. But this particular column, which expresses and condones hatred toward an entire segment of individuals in our society based solely on their political views, fails to observe an equally important value of our university — respect for the right of others to hold views contrary to our own. Professor Douglas’ column ill-serves the most basic values of a university community.

Andrea Fischer Newman is a regent of the University of Michigan.

Intolerence at a diverse college

Conservative voices have long been a group persecuted covertly on the University of Michigan campus. As a 1996 graduate of the University of Michigan who attended during the heyday of political correctness, I would have felt more at home at the Horsehoe in Columbus in full maize and blue than in professing conservative viewpoints in many university classrooms. A few of my fellow classmates and I stated our beliefs in Republican principles during discussion, but those willing to speak their mind were few and far between.

Some faculty treated conservative viewpoints fairly. Other faculty took great pride in forcibly putting down any hint of Republican thought in their classroom. While others treated Republican viewpoints as a sideshow to ridicule. Any way you sliced it, publicly professing conservative viewpoints was a serious commitment on the university campus only undertaken by a bold few.

But the days of quiet conservative bashing by faculty seem to be taking a turn for the worse. One faculty member wrote an article seemingly declaring open season on Republican viewpoints.

In a recent column titled, “It’s Okay to Hate Republicans,” the university’s aptly titled communications chair Susan Douglas talks about her dislike for Republicans. I am sure her students don’t feel comfortable expressing their views. And that will likely have broader effect on the campus, unless the university steps in.

It has always been a challenge to be a conservative on the university campus. There are few that care to express a conservative opinion for fear of grade point average retribution. It is incumbent on the university to take bold, public action to demonstrate acceptance of Republican viewpoints. Campuses are unfortunately becoming so closed-minded toward Republican perspective. The university needs to show chairwoman Douglas that her statements cannot be tolerated in an open academic environment.

UM President Mark Schlissel has an open letter on the university website where he states, “We know that a broad spectrum of perspectives leads to richer educational experiences and intellectual engagement for everyone. Our many and varied voices must all be heard and equally valued.”

Those concepts seem to run counter to the statements of Douglas. If the university truly desires varied voices to be equally heard, they will demonstrate this by appropriately condemning Douglas’ viewpoints and adding more conservative voices to the campus. It is time the university embrace conservative and Republican ideology as a perspective that is worthy of consideration. This is a true test for how varied the university wants its voices. Republicans are watching.

Stu Sandler is a Republican consultant.