The campus in Chapel Hill is all in a tizzy over Sen. Phil Berger’s proposed N.C. Policy Collaboratory, whose intended mission is to inject academic thought diversity and economic considerations into the discussion of environmental policies. Since this initiative might result in some academics with conservative views showing up on campus, I feel responsible as one of the few Republicans on the faculty at UNC who have come out of the closet for providing guidance to potential new hires in how to communicate on a college campus.
Here is a glossary of terms you will need to understand to engage in dialogue in Chapel Hill:
▪ Co-exist – if you agree with me, I will co-exist with you. If not, please exist somewhere else
▪ Prius – I wanted a Tesla, but since the damned legislature hates academics, I’m not paid enough to afford one
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▪ Thought diversity – a variety of liberal ideas ranging from Marxist to progressive.
▪ Micro-aggression – behavior not allowed in a “safe space.” See below.
▪ Safe space – where people who have values and beliefs different from yours are not allowed to speak.
▪ Poverty – a condition of low-income people who used to live in Chapel Hill but moved out due to the highest property taxes, sales taxes, home prices and water rates in the state.
▪ Alternative energy – a sustainable way to drive up the cost of heating a poor person’s house when economics are ignored in formulating environmental policy.
▪ Academic freedom – the use of taxpayer money for professors to personally disparage politicians with different political views.
▪ Conservative speaker – similar to Bigfoot; reported sightings, but no evidence students would allow it on campus
While many moderate and conservative voters, who comprise the majority of taxpayers in North Carolina who fund the university, are uncomfortable with the brainwashing of our youth by liberal faculty members who outnumber conservatives by 12 to 1, the faculty sees absolutely nothing wrong with an education where only one world view is represented in the college of arts and sciences.
Fortunately, I solved the mystery of why these numbers are so lopsided. It is not because liberals tend to hire like-minded colleagues, as you might think.
In the spring, I wrote about the overabundance of progressive views in Chapel Hill, and one of my colleagues enlightened me with this explanation: “Of course the university is dominated by progressives. That is the way smart people think.”
So a word of caution to moderates and conservatives who might seek employment in the new UNC initiative on environmental policy: If you are a conservative, by definition you are not smart. At least that’s what most of your colleagues will be thinking. Hell, I didn’t even know Collaboratory was a word.
If the truth be told, there are a lot of deep thinkers and smart people in Chapel Hill who will force you to be on your game. But they do need to be more open to divergent viewpoints. So don’t back down when they tell you economics should not be a factor in formulating environmental policy. I heard that viewpoint frequently when I chaired the Coal Ash Management Commission. Remember, there are a lot of poor people whose job prospects and heating bills are important to them who feel otherwise.
Michael Jacobs teaches the corporate governance classes in the MBA program at UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Graduate School of Business and served in a senior policy position at the U.S. Treasury under President George H.W. Bush.