Campus Watch: Skeptics Challenge Outcry over Political Correctness

Article excerpt

TO HEAR conservatives tell it, America's colleges are overrun by multiculturalists bent on drumming their liberal ideology into the heads of innocent students.

The latest salvo comes via a report titled "Comedy and Tragedy: College Course Descriptions and What They Tell Us About Higher Education Today." It comes from an organization called Young America's Foundation in Herndon, Va.

The foundation's researchers obtained the catalogs from the Ivy League and a selected number of private and state universities, then pored over the course descriptions with an eye toward "politically correct" offerings such as this from the University of Maryland: "Inequality in American Society - the sociological study of the status and treatment of the poor, minorities, the aged, women, deviant subcommunities and the physically handicapped."

The report concludes: "The diversity and sensitivity mongers have carved out a substantial portion of the university curricula and budget to purvey their ideology. Most schools force students to take a certain number of `diversity' courses in order to graduate, ensuring that ideologically based courses and the faculty who teach them become institutionalized within academia."

"Reinforcing this hypothesis is the fact that, with the exception of Princeton, every Ivy League college offers more undergraduate courses in women's studies than in economics."

The foundation's lament is a mantra on conservative radio talk shows, and many believe it.

But Edward T. Lewis, president of St. Mary's College in Maryland, and others who have observed higher education for years say the conservatives grossly exaggerate the influence of political correctness on college and university campuses.

"You have to look hard to find a surge of politically correct behavior," Lewis said. "There may be a few Marxists around. …