I graduated from Hamilton College in 1981. At the time it had the reputation and reality of a fairly no-nonsense school with rigorous academics and very little of the academic political correctness sweeping other campuses at the time.
Oh, how times changed. By 2004-2005, Hamilton was among the most politically dogmatic campuses, evidenced by the controversial employment offer to pardoned terrorist Susan Rosenberg (who ended up withdrawing) and speaking invitation to Ward Churchill.
It was so bad that the college refused to allow the fully-funded Alexander Hamilton Center for the Study of Western Civilization on campus, resulting in the creation of The Alexander Hamilton Institute for the Study of Western Civilization off campus in “downtown” at the bottom of the hill (in the same building as the former Alexander Hamilton Inn, for those of you familiar with Clinton). (You can donate to AHI here.)
In the interest of injecting some sanity into the escalating attacks on truth, Robert Pacquette [sic – Paquette], a history professor at Hamilton College, recently wrote that although he’s a traditional historian who teaches the principles of limited government and respect for private property, he doesn’t think that those facts register with today’s students.
However, according to the new rules adopted by “the eleven elite liberal arts colleges that make up the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC), which includes Amherst, Williams, Trinity, and Wesleyan,” “not one of these eleven colleges requires undergraduates to take a single course in American history.” In fact, most of these eleven elite colleges don’t even require that students who are majoring in history take any American history courses.”
At Hamilton, it’s so much worse. The liberal multi-cultural agenda of many faculty members and administrators kept AHI off campus, as described on AHI’s website:
Planning for the Alexander Hamilton Center intensified during the academic year 2004-2005 as the college was shaken by several incidents that raised questions about its direction and, indeed, its very ethos as an elite liberal arts college. During the summer of 2006, three senior professors at Hamilton College–Douglas Ambrose, James Bradfield, and Robert Paquette– reached agreement with the administration to establish on campus a scholarly center named after Alexander Hamilton. The founders of the center, recognizing Alexander Hamilton’s crucial contributions to the founding of the United States, intended to explore through an innovative series of programs a constellation of issues within the Western tradition related to the origin and articulation of freedom, democracy, and capitalism. In enunciating the mission of the center, they hoped to promote intellectual diversity on campus by broadening and deepening the debate about American ideals and institutions.
Within the span of a few months, however, opposition from within the college mounted and the initiative collapsed. Yet the center’s original charter, having been published and widely circulated, attracted the attention of educators, philanthropists, and alumni. Supporters engaged the founders in an extended conversation that resulted in the rebirth of the center as an independent entity with an expanded mission to bring the fruits of a great conversation within a distinctive culture to educational institutions in upstate New York and across the country.
Professor Paquette described the politics which led to exclusion of AHI from campus in a column he wrote for Minding the Campus in September 2007, What Happened At Hamilton:
Bear in mind that the founders had designed the AHC after a series of notorious incidents had shaken the confidence of Hamilton alumni in the leadership and direction of their alma mater. An Alexander Hamilton Center, we thought, would promote healing in the Hamilton community. The Susan Rosenberg and Ward Churchill fiascoes represented the latest in series of jarring shenanigans orchestrated by the Kirkland Project (reincarnated post-Churchill as the Diversity and Social Justice Project), a well-funded campus left-wing activist group dedicated to the study of “Gender, Society and Culture.” I had not endeared myself to the majority of Hamilton’s faculty and to some trustees precisely because I had surfaced publicly to confront these outrages. In their minds, the problem of Ward Churchill was merely a publicity problem. Only after the Rosenberg and Churchill stories broke in the national media and alums began to hold onto their checks did the powers that be at Hamilton College act to restrict the considerable autonomy of the Kirkland Project. Its leaders, predictably, figured prominently in generating the October faculty resolution against the AHC.
There are more details in an article Professor Paquette wrote for The New Criterion.
Here is Hamilton’s Diversity Statement:
During their four years on College Hill, majority and minority students encounter, sometimes for the first time, faculty, staff, and other students with views, backgrounds, and experiences that differ from their own. Such valuable encounters provide opportunities for students to enjoy the types of dialogue and debate that lead to intellectual and personal growth. Since engaging with diverse views and experiences is an important part of education, the College fosters such interaction through its hiring practices, student recruitment efforts, financial aid programs, curricular offerings, and social and cultural initiatives. Ultimately, our commitment to inclusiveness helps ensure that new members of the community feel they are on equal standing from the day they join the campus and that all community members feel respected and valued.
It applies to everyone and everything, except Western Civilization.