College Faculties A Most Liberal Lot
Back in 2005, The Washington Post reported a study, “College Faculties A Most Liberal Lot” showing that 72 percent of university professors were liberal and only 15 percent conservative. Howard Kurtz of the Washington Post reported on March 29, 2005, “The disparity is even more pronounced at the most elite schools, where, according to the study, 87 percent of faculty are liberal and 13 percent are conservative.
Robert Lichter, a professor at George Mason University and a co-author of the study, said, “What’s most striking is how few conservatives there are in any field. There was no field we studied in which there were more conservatives than liberals or more Republicans than Democrats. That’s why you need diversity, not just of race and gender but also, maybe especially, of ideas and perspective.” In matters of race and gender, colleges practice affirmative action to employ more minority and female professors and attract more students with these characteristics. Why won’t they do the same for conservative professors and students in the name of diversity, pluralism and academic freedom?
The findings, by Lichter and fellow political science professors Stanley Rothman of Smith College and Neil Nevitte of the University of Toronto, were based on a survey of 1,643 full-time faculty at 183 four-year schools. Rothman saw the findings as evidence of “possible discrimination” against conservatives in hiring and promotion. The most liberal faculties are typically those devoted to the humanities and social sciences: English literature, philosophy, political science and religious studies.
Just a relatively short time ago, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) took on a student-led class at the University of California at Berkeley, “The Politics of Poetics of Palestinian Resistance.” In the class description, the instructor warned, “Conservative thinkers are encouraged to seek other sections.” Of course, the UC-Berkeley department would never permit a course description that warned liberals not to apply. At the birthplace of the free speech movement, campus radicals of the 60’s have become the faculty, and today’s “radicals” say that their professors have been preaching multiculturalism and diversity while creating a political monoculture on campus.
Daniel Klein, an associate professor of economics at Santa Clara University and co-author of a study of voter registration records, found a nine-to-one ratio of Democrats to Republicans on the faculties of Berkeley and Stanford. In this study, he found the ratio especially lopsided among the younger professors of assistant or associate rank: 183 Democrats versus 6 Republicans.
The political imbalance on faculties has inspired a campaign to have state legislatures and Congress approve an “academic bill of rights” protecting students and faculty members from discrimination for their political beliefs. The campaign is being led by Students for Academic Freedom founded by the former Communist radical turned staunch conservative David Horowitz, who helped start the 1960′s antiwar movement while a graduate student at Berkeley. “Our goal is…to take politics out of the hiring process and the classroom. Right now, conservative students are discouraged from pursuing scholarly careers, because they see very clearly that their professors consider Republicans to be the enemy,” said Horowitz.
Thomas Reeves of the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute has said “conservatives are discriminated against routinely and deliberately” in faculty hiring, making some highly qualified teachers virtually unemployable because of their political and social views. This guarantees a perpetuation of a one-dimensional approach to most subjects
Professors have been moving further and further left, as evidenced by their campaign contributions. Berkeley, and other universities, provided unprecedented financial support for the Democratic Party in the 2004 election. For the first time, universities were at the top of the list of organizations ranked by their employees’ contributions to a presidential candidate, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan group. In first and second place, were the University of California system and Harvard, whose employees contributed $19 to the John Kerry campaign for every dollar for the George Bush campaign.
Stephen H. Balch, a Republican and president of the National Association of Scholars, published two faculty studies in the journal, Academic Questions (online at www.nas.org). In one study, Professor Klein and Charlotta Stern, a sociologist at the Institute for Social Research in Sweden, asked the members of scholars’ professional associations which party’s candidates they had mostly voted for over the previous decade. The ratio of Democratic to Republican professors ranged from 3 to 1 among economists to 30 to 1 among anthropologists.
A study by Stanley Rothman of Smith College looked at a random sample of more than 1,600 undergraduate faculty members from 183 institutions of higher learning. It found that across all faculty departments, including business and engineering, academics were over five times as likely to be liberals as conservatives. Furthermore, a new national study by Swedish sociologist Charlotta Stern and Santa Clara University economist Daniel Klein found that in a random national sample of 1,678 responses from university professors Democratic professors outnumber Republicans 3 to 1 in economics, 28 to 1 in sociology, and 30 to 1 in anthropology. Their findings were published in Academic Questions, the journal of the National Association of Scholars.
In an article written by Dennis Prager, “Professors as Inquisitors,” he states, “Students can minor in Marxist Studies at University of California Riverside. A class in ‘Marxist Literary Theory’ is offered at Rutgers University. There is ‘Black Marxism’ at University of California Santa Barbara, and ‘Taking Marx Seriously’ at Amherst College. ‘Engaging Cuba: Uncommon Approaches to the Common Good’ is a course at the Evergreen State College that glorifies Castro’s Cuba for its successes in education, health care, and agricultural production. These courses are more than partial to communist theory, they are actually like Red propaganda sessions. Capitalism, along with its accompanying institutions, is roundly portrayed as the source of all greed, inequality, and evil in general,” writes Prager.
In Dennis Parger’s book “Tenured Radicals” he writes, “With a few notable exceptions, our most prestigious liberal arts colleges and universities have installed the entire radical menu at the center of their humanities curriculum at both the undergraduate and the graduate levels. Every special interest–women’s studies, black studies, gay studies, and the like –and every modish interpretative gambit–deconstruction, post-structuralism, new historicism, and other postmodernist varieties of what the literary critic Frederick Crews aptly dubbed ‘Left Eclecticism’–has found a welcome roost in the academy, while the traditional curriculum and modes of intellectual inquiry are excoriated as sexist, racist, or just plain reactionary.”
Since the 1960s colleges and universities have more and more been home to what Lionel Trilling called the “adversary culture of the intellectuals.” The goal was less reflection than rejection. Gender Studies, Ethnic Studies, Afro-American Studies, Women’s Studies, Gay, Lesbian and Transgender Studies: These are not the names of academic disciplines but political grievances. They exist only to allow radicals to express their grievances to young brains full of mush.
Prager concludes, “Students pay a heavy price for this state of affairs. In certain fields like political science, it is simply impossible to receive a good education unless exposed to conservative thought. Nor are students likely to receive an adequate appreciation or understanding of the conservative perspective if it is only taught by those hostile to it. According to a survey by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, almost half of students reported hearing only one side of political issues in their classrooms and that professors often use their positions to promote personal political views.”
Unfortunately, fixing this problem will take a very long time. It is certainly not amenable to a legislative fix, such as a quota for conservatives. The only thing that will help is to shame universities into treating intellectual diversity the exact same way they now treat race and gender. The masses have to scream loud enough for the elites to see and thus finally admit that they have a bias problem. Then they must insist on real change.