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Editorial: A step in the right direction

A conservative activist speaking at Brown in 2008 told The Herald, "There are only one or two conservatives on your entire faculty, which is a disgrace and it did not happen by accident." While we thought that claim was extreme, it's no secret that Brown's campus does indeed lean toward the political left. In a poll conducted by The Herald immediately before the 2008 election, 86 percent of students said they would vote for then-Senator Barack Obama. Brown could undoubtedly benefit from greater intellectual diversity on campus, and we are very glad to see the Department of Political Science take a major step in that direction.

The department has hired renowned legal scholar Steven Calabresi to teach classes on constitutional law this year. Professor Calabresi grew up and lives in Rhode Island and is taking a leave of absence from Northwestern University School of Law.

Calabresi's conservative credentials are well established. As a student at Yale Law School, he co-founded the Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies, an organization of libertarian law students, scholars and practitioners that now has 40,000 members across the country, according to its website. After law school, he clerked for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, and then went on to work in the Reagan and first Bush administrations before entering academia.

Over the last twenty years, Calabresi has written dozens of law review articles and several books, many of which have been influential in conservative circles. He is one of the most significant figures in legal academia, and we are extremely excited that he will be teaching Brown undergraduates this year.

Calabresi's presence will undoubtedly increase the diversity of political viewpoints on campus. But this is not to say that he will bring any political biases to class. As he previously told The Herald, he plans to teach in a way that introduces students to varying approaches to the law and allows them to come to their own conclusions. Still, Calabresi can present conservative theories and modes of thought from a perspective that would be impossible for some other faculty members to replicate.

Additionally, Calabresi's time here will hopefully help debunk the notion that Brown is an inhospitable environment for conservatives. We know his classroom will be a lively, open forum where ideas from across the political spectrum are subjected to thorough analysis. And left-leaning students who engage with him may even end up changing their minds on an issue or two.

Other social science departments at Brown should look to follow the political science department's lead and promote intellectual diversity. We're pretty sure that Calabresi isn't only the second or third conservative professor at Brown. Still, the University would benefit from additional efforts to diversify its faculty and attract noted scholars with a broad variety of views.  

Ultimately, we want to congratulate the political science department for its new hire and welcome Professor Calabresi to Brown. Students should seize the opportunity both to study under such an eminent scholar and to expose themselves to the diversity of viewpoints that colleges were meant to promote but often lack.

 

Editorials are written by The Herald's editorial page board. Send comments to editorials (at) browndailyherald.com.


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