Posted by lpearle on 18 November 2010
At the start of each year, our Admissions Office reports on the composition of the student body: male/female ratio, class sizes, and how many students come from HUGS (“historically underrepresented groups”). What they don’t report is diversity in learning styles, economic status, sexual orientation, athletes vs. artists, science nerds vs. humanities fanatics, and other equally good measures of ‘diversity’.
As a faculty, I’d argue that we’re relatively diverse with one major exception: the liberals far outweigh the conservatives. That’s not a slant that’s new to academic institutions. It’s also something to think about in terms of collection development: do you have Al Gore or Al Franken on your shelves? What about Ann Coulter or Glenn Beck? Which magazines do you subscribe to, and is that balanced? Sometimes we disagree so strongly with the political point of view that we refuse to put the book (or magazine) on our shelves; what message does that send to parents or students who do not share our perspective?
Will Manley has written about the lack of conservative voices at ALA. It’s incumbent on us to also reflect on the voices we have in our schools, and how diverse our collections are.