Campus Free Speech

The Only Conservative Professor at Hamilton Has Some Valid Questions About Its Diversity Requirement

When diversity actually means more of the same


Benjamin D Esham / Wikimedia Commons

Hamilton College has instituted a diversity requirement: all students must take a course that deals with issues of race, class, or identity—even if they are majoring in the hard sciences.

The proposal, which was approved by the faculty governing body 80-19, doesn't precisely specify what constitutes diversity, however, which has left one independent-minded professor wondering if his course on conservative thought could satisfy the requirement.

"Is it not eye-opening that a supermajority of the faculty would approve of imposing a requirement based upon a concept, 'diversity,' that was never precisely defined before it was voted on?" Robert Paquette, a history professor at Hamilton, asked Inside Higher Ed. "Will departments be drawing up lists of 'approved courses'? Which courses will be included? Which courses will be excluded? Does the understanding of 'diversity' include viewpoint diversity, and would, e.g., my course on conservative thought make anyone's list? Would all history courses make the list? Or none, or some?"

These are valid questions. Paquette, as it so happens, has donated to Republican candidates in the past, which makes him something of an anomaly. He is the only undergraduate professor to do so—not just at Hamilton, but at any of the top 50 liberal arts schools in the country, according to Campus Reform.

There are, after all, plenty of left-leaning professors eager to inject material having to do with race, class, sexuality, and other forms of identity into the curriculum. But there are very few professors are teaching about conservatism. Even fewer—practically none—are conservatives themselves.

Of course, when universities talk about diversity, they aren't actually talking about diversity. They don't want to expose students to a broader range of views. They want to expose students to more of the same view most of them already hold.