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  • UW WhitewaterBy Ethan Hollenberger

    "As undergraduates in the College of Letters and Sciences, students develop diverse perspectives, civic responsibility and engagement, and personal and professional integrity while preparing for careers and life-long learning." -- UW - Whitewater College of Letters & Sciences Mission Statement

    College mission statements pay lip service to the development of "diverse perspectives." Increasingly, such declarations are becoming nothing more than feel-good jargon. The University of Wisconsin - Whitewater's College of Letters & Sciences Contemporary Issues Lecture Series is run by associate professor of political science Susan Johnson and Dean Mary Pinkerton.

    For the current academic year, the speakers are all far Left. The lecture series, now in its eighth year, has a budget of $55,000 with $34,221 coming from the Letters & Sciences' budget (tuition dollars and taxpayer subsidy). The honoraria for the speakers are as follows: 

    • Josh Fox - $10,000 - Fox is an environmentalist documentary filmmaker and spoke on the "dangers" of fracking using controversial research.
    • Joan Garry - $8,000 - Garry is a top LGBT activist, served on Obama 2008 campaign, and donated $9,000 to Democrats since 2007. She spoke on the "Media and its Impact on Changing Hearts and Minds".
    • Brooke Hauser - $12,000 - Hauser has supported giving undocumented immigrants in-state tuition rates. In an interview, she called for the California Dream Act to become national law. She once said "no human is illegal".
    • Andrew Leonard - $8,000 - Leonard is a Salon.com blogger. He has written columns attacking conservative leaders and corporate America.
    • Doug McAdam - $7,000 - As a Stanford Sociology Professor, McAdam wrote a column opposing the Citizens United Supreme Court decision. He also called Tea Party backed congressmen with "narrow ideological commitment" a threat to democracy in America.
    • Elizabeth Royte - $7,000 - Royte is a hardened environmentalist and climate change advocate. She frequently blogs on man-made climate change, bottle hysteria, and fracking dangers.

    Despite each speaker's clear liberal ideology the university denies any bias. According to the university's spokesman, Sara J. Kuhl, "We select the speakers based upon their topic, current interest in the topic, relevance to our Gen Ed program (particularly the Core courses), national recognition, and ability to engage an audience productively.  We do not take ideological positions into account."

    Letters & Sciences Dean Mary Pinkerton wrote in an email, "Susan Johnson is the coordinator of the lecture series.  She and I solicit suggestions from faculty.  We also try to identify topics of current interest, particularly those that can be integrated into our Gen Ed Core courses.  We always try to have at least one lecture that is focused on some issue related to science.  Part of the intent of the lecture series is to engage students in thinking critically about issues that are relevant today.  Most of the speakers we bring to campus are award winners (Pulitzer, etc.) with national reputations.  The lectures also draw members of the community, and the question/answer session following the lecture is often the best part. Many different viewpoints are expressed there."

    It should be noted university spokesman Sara J. Kuhl joined liberal Wisconsinites in 2012 and signed the recall petition of conservative Governor Scott Walker. Joining her was the university's representative for the speakers' contracts, Ron Buchholz, the Director of Career & Leadership at Whitewater.

    Another intriguing side note about Whitewater is their powerful conservative alumni. Reince Priebus graduated from the College of Letters & Sciences in 1994 and was student body president.  The university might be eager to showcase him in their lecture series.

    If universities advertise the inclusion of "diverse perspectives" in the literature to attract students and toot their own horns, they should honor that commitment from their obviously deceptive ads. To honor and include diverse opinions-especially on ultra-liberal university campuses-means bringing in speakers with diverse ideological perspectives.

    Ethan Hollenberger, age 22, is a conservative activist from Wisconsin. While in college, he was a founding member of his campus' Young American's for Freedom chapter.  He can be contacted at ethan.hollenberger@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter: @EHollenberger.

    • Readers' Comments

    • What is the problem of balancing this situation out; Actuall this ole Grandmother would like to see the ole debate platform or doesn't that fit into our upper educational institutions.... The right to Choice after listening to both sides etc. seems the way - my way anyway. I feel saddened for our children ......
      Posted by Sue Ann on 01/29/2013
    • Embarrased I graduated from this hole. They wonder why Ive never given one penny to the alumni association.
      Posted by MadisonTaxPayer on 01/30/2013
    • As an alumni, I resent only liberal parties espousing their views. Let's have some conservatives speaking. It fits in so-called diversity. We are all diverse. Right? Don't make such a big thing of it. Like anything else, too much can be too much!
      Posted by Duane on 02/22/2013
    • I'm disappointed in this article. I, too, believe in having lecture series like these express a wide diversity of views. However, even this article doesn't present an unbiased view. Why don't you let people judge for themselves? You are making accusations based on personal details of the speakers, but not on the topic they are speaking on, nor what they actually said at their lectures. Here is the actual list of speakers, with their topics: http://www.uww.edu/cls/about/lectures I think it's hard to say that Water rights, Immigration, natural gas extraction, global energy policy, youth volunteering, and the role of the media in society are things that are A) inherently liberal or B) not appropriate for students to listen to. To me, that seems like a diverse list. Just because your view was not represented doesn't mean there is some sort of conspiracy. The other thing to know is that when you make up a lecture series (I've been a lecture series manager in a past life), you have limited resources and speakers demand a fairly high fee. But I can guarantee you that conservative speakers, for whatever reason, charge at least double the price any other speaker might charge. There are market forces here that you aren't considering.
      Posted by Aaron on 04/18/2013
    • Aaron, no one is arguing that the list is diverse in its topics. Where it lacks is in diversity of thinking among the speakers. Of course water rights, immigration, et. al. are not liberal issues-so why is opinion only being presented by liberals? This condition gives college students the impression that liberalism is the only way to confront these challenges. If you're going to have a lecture series, it would make sense to present both sides. That way, after Lizzy Royte speaks emotionally about 'global warming', they could listen to an actual scientist explain that most of the hype is based on politically-inspired junk science. Then, the kids could walk outside to 45 degrees in May and decide for themselves. P.S. Conservative lecturers cost more because they have to pay for the effort they spend doing research. Liberal speakers can talk full-time. ;)
      Posted by Will on 05/06/2013
    • Aaron, no one is arguing that the list is diverse in its topics. Where it lacks is in diversity of thinking among the speakers. Of course water rights, immigration, et. al. are not liberal issues-so why is opinion only being presented by liberals? This condition gives college students the impression that liberalism is the only way to confront these challenges. If you're going to have a lecture series, it would make sense to present both sides. That way, after Lizzy Royte speaks emotionally about 'global warming', they could listen to an actual scientist explain that most of the hype is based on politically-inspired junk science. Then, the kids could walk outside to 45 degrees in May and decide for themselves. P.S. Conservative lecturers cost more because they have to pay for the effort they spend doing research. Liberal speakers can talk full-time. ;)
      Posted by Will on 05/06/2013
    • Aaron, no one is arguing that the list is diverse in its topics. Where it lacks is in diversity of thinking among the speakers. Of course water rights, immigration, et. al. are not liberal issues-so why is opinion only being presented by liberals? This condition gives college students the impression that liberalism is the only way to confront these challenges. If you're going to have a lecture series, it would make sense to present both sides. That way, after Lizzy Royte speaks emotionally about 'global warming', they could listen to an actual scientist explain that most of the hype is based on politically-inspired junk science. Then, the kids could walk outside to 45 degrees in May and decide for themselves. P.S. Conservative lecturers cost more because they have to pay for the effort they spend doing research. Liberal speakers can talk full-time. ;)
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