Conservative Colleges

“In the future, we obviously in the conservative movement have to do much bigger things. We have to start taking over universities,” said Mr. Mike Adams, who also is a columnist at Townhall.com. “When you hear about a liberal cesspool like Sweet Briar College [in Virginia] going broke—conservatives need to buy them. We need our own universities because the fact of the matter is we’re battling against extinction.” Valerie Richardson

Conservatives say court a harsh first step in academic bias battle

Valerie Richardson, The Washington Times, March 30, 2015, p. 13

texas-am-universityTeresa Wagner recently notched a victory at the US. Supreme Court, but she can be for­given if she doesn’t exactly feel like a winner.

Her lawsuit against the University of Iowa College of Law, in which she accuses the school of denying her a promotion over her conservative beliefs, has dragged on for six years. The case has taken a toll on her family and her finances, and she is running out of money to pay her legal bills.

Ms. Wagner is still working at the uni­versity although no longer as a part-time legal writing instructor. In November, she was reassigned to the library after she told university officials that she found a supervi­sor nunmaging through her backpack.

“She’s working in a stack of books in the main library basically, with no interaction with people at all,” said her attorney, Stephen Fieweger.

The Supreme Court’s March 9 refusal to hear the university’s appeal ensures Ms. Wagner a new trial after the first one, in 2012, ended in a hung jury. Her chances look good, given that jurors from the first trial told The Des Moines Register that they agreed she faced political discrimination but were uncomfortable finding a former dean personally responsible.

Still, even if Ms. Wagner prevails at trial and conservatives win the battle, there is little doubt they are losing the war. Those in the trenches say the assault on conservative ideas in higher education continues despite high-profile legal victories by academics over viewpoint bias.

“These victories are incredibly important to prevent the complete silencing of dissent. But we can’t kid ourselves in thinking that these victories are changing the culture,” said David French, senior legal counsel at the American Center for Law and Justice. “They’re just maintaining the toehold for dissenters.”

Mr. French scored an enormous win a year ago in his defense of Mike Adams, the conservative sociology professor who was awarded a promotion, a raise, $50,000 in back pay and $710,000 in legal fees in his seven-year fight against the University of North Caroliria-Wilmington.

“For me personally, yeah, the costs were certainly very great, and it was obviously very stressful and my hair turned gray and all,” Mr. Adams said. “But the fact of the matter is when you’re doing it, you don’t know that. So you’re actually making a series of decisions. And so when people thank me for what I did with my case, I sometimes explain to them that it really wasn’t as difficult as it seemed from the outside because we were actually just making a series of decisions.”

Would he do it again? Of course, he said, but taking universities to court isn’t enough. He said conservatives need to make “a bigger play” by founding and taking back institu­tions of higher education from the dominant liberal culture.

“In the future, we obviously in the conservative movement have to do much bigger things. We have to start taking over universities” said Mr. Adams, who also is a columnist at Townhall.com, “When you hear about a liberal cesspool like Sweet Briar College [in Virginia] going broke—conservatives need to buy them. We need our own universities because the fact of the matter is we’re battling against extinction.”

Schools where conservative thought flour­ishes include Chapman College in California, Colorado Christian University, Gordon Col­lege in Massachusetts, Grove City College in Pennsylvania, Hillsdale College in Michigan and Wheaton College in Illinois, but they’re badly outnumbered, Mr. Adams said

“For those who want to found and fund new academic establishments, that’s fantas­tic, but you can’t create enough conservative universities to make a significant difference when there’s already hundreds of universities educating 12 [million], 13 million students an­nually,” Mr. French said.

The ultimate solution lies in changing the culture, he said. “We’re talking about a huge academic establishment here that requires culture change to embrace liberty and respect the marketplace of ideas,” Mr. French said. In the meantime, he said, the legal chal­lenges play vital roles.

“It only takes a few incidents to send a message to professors to watch what they say. What we’re trying to do with the litigation is send a message back to universities: Watch who you fire,” Mr. French said

Case in point: Three weeks ago, the University of California agreed to settle a case brought by researcher James Enstrom who was fired in 2012 from the UCLA School of Public Health after challenging the diesel emissions research of the California Climate Air Resources Board

Inhis lawsuit, Mr. Enstrom claimed he was dismissed for failing to toe the Varmisf'<line on climate change. He also blew the whistle on a scientist doing research for the board who fabricated a PhD. from the fictitious “Thomhill University:’

The University of California system agreed to pay $140,000 to Mr. Enstrom and reverse his termination in a court-ordered mediation. He also was allowed to keep the title “retired researcher”—he elected to retireduring the 21/4-year battle — and related perks such as access to UCLA resources.

“tilt shows that UCLA and the UC Regents have not been able to suppress a pohtically incorrect sdentifie dissenter? Mr. Enstrom said in a March 5 statement

UCLA spokesman Phil Hampton denied that Mr. Enstrom was dismissed for his “un­popular scientific views,” saying “the evidence in the litigation did not support that claim” but the resolution “settles the case for far less than the legal costs of a trial.”

“In fact, UCLA is home to a multitude of differing views, and the university vigor­ously supports the principles of academic freedom. Enstrom’spresence as a researcher for decades, despite his minority positions defending diesel emissions and tobacco, dem­onstrates that fact,” Mr. Hampton said.

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