Sunday, December 05, 2004

 

Intellectual diversity? Not On Campus

Jeff Jacoby looks at campus liberalism.

Things like this scare me and make me wonder if preechy professors are not actually turning young adults away from liberalism.

No surprise, then, that when researchers checked the voter registration of humanities and social-science instructors at 19 universities, they discovered a whopping political imbalance. The results, published in The American Enterprise in 2002, made it clear that for all the talk of diversity in higher education, ideological diversity in the modern college faculty is mostly nonexistent.

So, for example, at Cornell, of the 172 faculty members whose party affiliation was recorded, 166 were liberal (Democrats or Greens) and 6 were conservative (Republicans or Libertarians). At Stanford, the liberal-conservative ratio was 151-17. At San Diego State, it was 80-11. At SUNY Binghamton, 35-1. At UCLA, 141-9. At the University of Colorado-Boulder, 116-5. At the University of Texas-Austin, 94-15. Reflecting on these gross disparities, The American Enterprise's editor, Karl Zinsmeister, remarked: "Today's colleges and universities . . . do not, when it comes to political and cultural ideas, look like America."

At about the same time, a poll of Ivy League professors commissioned by the Center for the Study of Popular Culture found that more than 80 percent of those who voted in 2000 had cast their ballots for Democrat Al Gore, while just 9 percent backed Republican George W. Bush. Asked to name the greatest president of the last 40 years, 26 percent chose Bill Clinton; 4 percent said Ronald Reagan. While 64 percent said they were "liberal" or "somewhat liberal," only 6 percent described themselves as "somewhat conservative" -- and none at all as "conservative."

Worse yet, it leads faculty members to abuse their authority. The American Council of Trustees and Alumni has just released the results of the first survey to measure student perceptions of faculty partisanship. The ACTA findings are striking. Of 658 students polled at the top 50 US colleges, 49 percent said professors "frequently comment on politics in class even though it has nothing to do with the course," 48 percent said some "presentations on political issues seem totally one-sided," and 46 percent said that "professors use the classroom to present their personal political views." That nearly half of the respondents expressed those views is all the more striking, since only 13 percent described themselves as conservative.



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