Last week, Thomas Klingenstein published an article in the Claremont Review of Books discussing President Barry Mills and Bowdoin College. In his article, which was covered in the April 15 edition of the Orient, Klingenstein charges that Bowdoin is "antiseptically" liberal and that President Mills endorses this bias.

Though the article is meant to criticize the widespread "liberal tilt" which he sees as plaguing all of higher education, Mr. Klingenstein makes his case through a personal attack on President Mills and Bowdoin College. We found his comments about Bowdoin to be both condescending and factually incorrect.

Mr. Klingenstein writes, "[Bowdoin] offers not one history course in American political, military, diplomatic, constitutional, or intellectual history, and nothing at all on the American Founding or the Constitution." However, Bowdoin offers many such courses within the history, government and education departments. Bowdoin's history and government departments complement each other nicely, and both offer courses that deal with the intellectual history of the United States, albeit from somewhat different perspectives.

In addition, Bowdoin clearly offers a number of courses on the historical and philosophical developments of the American founding. One such course is History 233—"American Society in the New Nation, 1763-1840"—which was offered in the fall of 2010. This course assigns a wide variety of primary and secondary readings on the history of the American founding and the Constitutional debates of the late 18th and early 19th century.

Klingenstein also attacks the Bowdoin history department for not presenting a traditional narrative of American history. He writes, "there are any number of courses that deal with some group aspect of America, but virtually none that deals with America as a whole. For example, there is African-American history from 1619 to 1865 and from 1865 to the present, but there is not a comparable sequence on America." Here, Mr. Klingenstein implies that cultural history—or the history of any minority group—is necessarily at odds with the principles of modern conservativism.

Mr. Klingenstein offers no justification for this assertion. In contrast, we find no reason that a scholar on African-American history cannot be conservative in his or her political views. And there is no reason that a course on constitutional or political history cannot have a liberal bias. Rather, we view good historians as driven by intellectual questions rather than political motivations.

The history of African-Americans and other minority groups are important sub-fields of American history, which should have their rightful place alongside constitutional, political and intellectual narratives of American history. In our experience, these narratives are barely touched upon in high school history classes (which cover the "traditional" narrative of American history extensively).

We find that history courses that study social and cultural aspects of American history nicely build upon the "traditional" narrative of American history.

In addition to courses which study specific minority groups, the Bowdoin history department offers courses which discuss urbanization, the history of the city in America, colonial history, the Civil War, the Cold War, the World since 1945 and the history of evolution in America.

These courses reflect the complexity of American history, and we believe that any good history department must incorporate this complexity into its course offerings. Considering the small size of Bowdoin's history department, this diversity in offerings should be applauded.

Klingenstein's remarks are unfair to the faculty of the College, especially to the history department. We have both taken history classes and developed personal relationships with the professors who teach them. After skimming the College's course catalogue, Klingenstein concludes that Bowdoin's classrooms are unwelcome to open inquiry and debate. His assertions are simply untrue in our first-hand experience.

We believe the Orient should have interviewed and quoted a member of the history department in light of these accusations. We are also disappointed that the Orient implicitly defended Klingenstein's fallacious statement that the history department does not offer courses in intellectual or political American history.

We believe that Klingenstein was overly hasty in his assessment of Bowdoin. He fails to note, for example, the presence of several prominent conservative faculty members in our government department, whose presence at Bowdoin challenges the notion that Bowdoin's curriculum is "antiseptically" liberal.

President Mills has repeatedly endorsed a policy of hiring the best possible faculty. We support this commitment and believe that political considerations should not play any role in the hiring process, or in the awarding of tenure. We applaud the efforts of President Mills to encourage intellectual freedom and excellence at Bowdoin, and we denounce any suggestion of a political litmus test for faculty appointments.

Bowdoin students of all political persuasions should come together to endorse a commitment to the intellectual freedom of our faculty in the face of Klingenstein's article.

Sean McElroy and Alex Williams are members of the Class of 2012.