“I grew up around guns. I like guns. But I was there. And something’s got to change.”
The CFA Hall was packed on Wednesday as faculty, students, and Middletown-area residents gathered to hear what three of the nation’s leading experts in gun violence had to say about the United States’ gun violence epidemic. The panel was chaired by Wesleyan’s very own Leah Wright and consisted of professors Saul Cornell, Kristin A. Goss, and Matthew Miller from Fordham, Duke, and Harvard, respectively (you can read up on the participants here). Each professor gave a ten minute lecture on their particular field followed by a Q & A led by NPR’s John Dankosky. I’ll give a summary of each lecture, then some of the important points from the Q & A, and end with a summary of my thoughts on the whole event. Let’s get started.
Professor Cornell: Professor Cornell gave an abbreviated history of the Second Amendment and Second Amendment interpretation. He detailed the current state of affairs, where many people have a “Second Amendment Tourette’s Syndrom.” He explained that our society talks about the amendment like it’s “monolithic and its meaning has never changed,” when in fact it’s been reinterpreted just as much as any other section of the Constitution. Professor Cornell also described the “three myths” of gun control:
We all know that Wesleyan bleeds cardinal red with conservatism, and now there’s yet another ranking to prove it. As an alum puts it, “we were out-leftied by a school in Arkansas,” coming in at #15 of the Newsweek/College Prowler Most Liberal Colleges Ranking. This comes only a year after the Princeton Review induced a campus-wide identity crisis by implying that Wesleyan is no longer weird. To comfort your faint liberal to very liberal heart, please observe the reassuring photographic evidence of our liberalness above and repeatedly watch footage of Andrew Beritbart taking a swing at our good ole Methodist name.
Warren Wilson College in Swannanoa, NC comes in as the most liberal school in America. College Prowler tells us that the best things at Warren Wilson include the view of the mountains and the farm. Meanwhile, the worst include such unrelatable things as the cost of tuition and “getting trapped in the Wilson bubble.” Transfer applications are due November 15.
Newsweek, with financial problems that make Wesleyan look profitable, has been trying lately to seduce readers with everything from asparagus to college rankings (why not? everyone else is doing it!). The Huffington Post’s thoughtful analysis of these results describes the process: “Newsweek said it partnered with College Prowler to have students rank their schools by how liberal they felt the philosophy on campus was.” They’ve got our numbers though:
Roth: Scalia talk “will increase our capacity to combat the idiot wind of know-nothing anti-intellectualism that is all too prevalent in our political culture.”
If you’re old enough to remember Mytheos Holt ’10’s “Mytheology” column, you might also remember the columnist’s most scathing (at least coherently so, behind whatever layers of trolling persisted) critique: that Wesleyan, in its boundless quest for all varieties of diversity (racial, socioeconomic, sexual, what-have you), had severely left behind the value of ideological diversity on a campus hostile to all views to the right of, say, Dennis Kucinich. In more recent writing, Holt rails against Wesleyan for honoring Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards P’13 with an honorary degree. Such, Holt claims, reflects “the utter lack of intellectual seriousness” among the Left at Wesleyan.
Not so, argues President Roth in a new column for Huff Post. After all, Antonin Scalia is coming.
More specifically, Roth suggests that the loud buzz of interest over Scalia’s upcoming lecture is refreshing evidence of student interest in cultivating political diversity on campus. Do you really think all those freaks on line in Usdan agree with Scalia on, say, Webster v. Reproductive Health Services? According to Roth, what they (you? we?) are really seeking is “an educational environment” in which to consider Scalia’s views—“a choice, not an echo,” in the words of Phyllis Schlafly:
This has nothing to do with Wesleyan specifically, but it has much to do with issues and patterns concerning higher education in general, and it’s a fascinating read.
In a compelling (and admittedly provocative) article for The Chronicle of Higher Education, Jere P. Surber, professor of philosophy at the University of Denver, eloquently tackles what the media loves to term the “liberal bias of the academy.” Surber considers the left-leaning tendency of liberal arts professors to be not a meaningless phenomenon of naïveté, but simply common sense given the nature of a liberal arts professor’s job, as well as the often skewed relationship between hir level of education and salary: