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History professor Jay Bergman is waiting for the day when advocates of “diversity” demand that conservatives and Republicans — who are under-represented on college faculties — be hired in numbers consistent with their percentage in the general population. Does this sound silly? If so, then Bergman has made his point. “If, by affirmative action, one means non-race-based outreach and recruitment and job training, I support it,” Bergman said. “But I reject it when it means racial preferences and quotas.” He described affirmative action as “an amorphous and often misleading euphemism for preferences that advocates of preferences use to disguise the racial discrimination they are really advocating.” Bergman is an academic bad boy, aka conservative. He is a spotlight who attracts the politically correct out of the shadows; when they fly near the heat, their wings melt and they crash. Last year, Bergman, who teaches at Central Connecticut State University, commissioned a poll by the University of Connecticut’s Center for Survey Research and Analysis. Some UConn profs did not like the questions. They liked the polling data even less. The questions were simple: “Do you feel that your own institution should or should not grant preference to one applicant over another in faculty employment decisions on the basis of race, sex or ethnicity?” A second question, phrased the same way, concerned student admissions. UConn sociology professor Kenneth Neubeck said the questions were “loaded.” Ah, Neubeck: I can see now why you’re not teaching philosophy or physics. The survey showed that professors at the Connecticut State University’s four campuses opposed hiring preferences by a 3-to-1 ratio, while professors at UConn opposed them by nearly 2 to 1. At the state’s two-year colleges, the ratio was 5 to 1. The professors also opposed admissions preferences by substantial margins. “These poll results show that professors are really no different from Americans generally in their rejection of the reverse racial discrimination that racial preferences necessarily entail — a racial discrimination that is utterly contrary to the fundamental American principles of individual merit and equal protection under the law,” Bergman said. Bergman also serves as president of the Connecticut Association of Scholars, a group that sponsored the survey and prides itself on exposing “Political Correctness.” Predictably, the survey results prompted protests. The battle cry of so-called concerned professors might just as well have been, “Arrest That Poll!” Political pressure resulted in the establishment of a “task force” to investigate the operations of research centers on campus. One disturbing development: The task force discussed and could recommend criteria for contracting studies, including whether “sensitive issues” are involved. Hey, let’s not hurt any feelings. After all, depending on the department, feelings are certainly more important than free inquiry and academic standards. In all seriousness, the “sensitive issues” criteria are an obvious affront to academic freedom and must go. A spokesman for UConn President Philip Austin said Austin has not seen the task force report. However, Austin reaffirmed an earlier statement: “Research, including survey research, thrives in a climate of free expression and open criticism. The university administration does not serve the interests of quality scholarship by second-guessing specific questionnaires. Nor do we challenge the right of others in the community to express their opinions on these matters.” That sounds pretty good, Prez. Stay the course. Andy Thibault is a contributor to The Connecticut Law Tribune.

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