As I discussed in my column a few weeks ago, universities are increasingly monolithic in the thoughts they allow to be expressed on their campuses. Speaker Robin Vos illustrates one example of the lack of diversity in the UW system over on Right Wisconsin.
Our review found roughly $2.7 million was spent on guest speakers in 2015. UW-Milwaukee spent more on speakers than any other school. Not surprisingly, a large number were easily identifiable as being liberal. The same was true with smaller schools. The largest amount paid for a single speaker was at UW-Platteville. Kathy Ober , a former professor at University of Massachusetts, Amherst and co-founder of the Social Justice Training Institute spoke three times for a total of $45,000. Michael Sam, the first openly gay player in the NFL, was one of the highest paid speakers for an individual speech at UW-La Crosse last December . The UW System schools have invited actors, writers, musicians and even a local farmer to speak to students, each with a varying price tag to taxpayers.
What is noticeably absent in the top paid speakers to the UW System were individuals with conservative, political or social, perspectives. Within the top 50 taxpayer-funded guest speakers, we identified less than a handful of conservatives. Sure, there could be a plethora of conservatives who refused to accept any honoraria, but I doubt it.
The data suggests that when UW System officials look to invest in an invited guest, more times than not, they’re looking for a liberal-minded individual to disperse information to the young, developing minds who pay them thousands of dollars for their education.