By ROGER KIMBALL [Real Clear Politics] – You can’t set foot on a college campus these days without encountering incessant chatter about “diversity.” It doesn’t take long to realize that by “diversity” most colleges really mean “strict intellectual and moral conformity about any contentious issue.” Indeed, most colleges and universities are one-party states, purveying, at enormous cost, a species of ideological indoctrination while their charges enjoy a four-year holiday from the responsibilities of adult life masquerading as a liberal education. Their parents are happy, or at least reconciled to the expense and the indoctrination, because said college provides their child with the all-important stamp of societal approval in the form of a meal ticket called a “diploma.” What have they actually learned? What skills have they mastered? What is their character? Those are questions that no one, having just spent (in many cases) $250,000, wants to ask.
St. John’s really has offered something different. It’s just as expensive as the other places. And my impression is that a large proportion of its faculty are as reflexively left-wing as the faculty at most other colleges. But their interrogative engagement with a thoughtfully garnered distillation of masterpieces makes St. John’s quite different from almost every other institution. Is it for everyone? No. But it is one of our age’s failings—a liability of thoughtless “democratization”—to assume that if something isn’t good for everyone, it is good for no one.
St. John’s Board of Visitors and Governors is on the brink of making changes in the governing structure of the college that will set it, perhaps irrevocably, on the road to intellectual blandness and conformity. June 18 is just over a week away. I hope that anyone who cherishes what St. John’s has been—students and faculty past and present, citizens concerned with genuine diversity and excellence in American higher education—will make his voice heard before another experiment in educational excellence is absorbed into the engorging maw of politically correct mediocrity.