A Letter to the President of the University of Michigan on Intellectual Diversity

Dear President Coleman,

We are writing to you to voice our concerns about the state of the intellectual climate on campus.

Last week, Provost Pollack addressed an email to the University of Michigan community which affirmed “both the university’s” and her “own strong commitment to diversity and to creating a welcoming and inclusive community.”We applaud this effort.

However, we question, as any student who has spent time on this campus must, what exactly are meant by “diversity” and “inclusiveness.” If, by these two much abused terms, you mean primarily race, gender and religion, then we’d ask that you qualify your future statements about these matters to “diversity and inclusiveness within a narrow set of parameters.” If, however, you meant to affirm your commitment to diversity as it is properly defined — a condition of being composed of differing elements or qualities — we ask that you question whether your administration has done an adequate job at promoting such diversity, and whether Provost Pollack’s email did not leave out gaping holes in the diversity program of the university.

As students at the University of Michigan, we have become keenly aware that there is a general under-representation of libertarian and conservative views on campus. Nearly every course we have taken has been taught from a liberal, or left-wing, perspective by a liberal professor. This is troubling not because liberalism is being promoted on campus, but because of the general lack of opposing viewpoints students can access.

A campus ought to be a free marketplace of ideas where students can reevaluate and refine the beliefs that will shape the rest of their lives. If all schools of thought are not more equally represented, many students may never encounter them in fair setting. For a university that prides itself on its supposed liberal values, this is unacceptable. Moreover, it is dishonest.

We would ask that you force students to take courses that fairly represent libertarian thought, as you have done so with other course requirements, but we could not do so without forfeiting our character as libertarians. Rather, we ask simply that you make these courses available,  — for example, that the free market school of thought be entered into the economics curriculum to be taught by competent and fair free market professors; that history courses taught from perspectives other than postmodernism be made available; that for every course on race and ethnicity, there be a course on intellectual diversity which includes liberal, conservative and libertarian cultural and political ideas.

We ask, additionally, that an increased budget be developed and extra curricular programs created to help foster this intellectual diversity outside of the classroom. This would allow students from across the disciplines to engage in fair minded and open discussion with their peers about all ideologies, not just those that the university sanctions.

As a public institution, it is your obligation to represent all schools of political and cultural thought — and to better reflect the diversity of views in our state. Please live up to this duty, and to the standards you claim to have set for yourselves.

Humbly submitted,
Derek Magill and Cody Chipman
Young Americans for Liberty
University of Michigan

P.S. Go Blue!

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