Two studies have appeared that reveal a serious corruption of the academic enterprise in America and a troubling situation on our campuses. The first, by Professor Daniel Klein of Santa Clara University, establishes a relentless bias in the hiring of faculty. According to Professor Klein’s results from a sample of nearly more than 1700 social science academics, between eighty and ninety percent (depending on the selection of fields) identify themselves as “liberals” and vote Democratic. In the next generation, the imbalance will be even more extreme. In a survey of junior faculty at Stanford and Berkeley, Professor Klein showed that the ratio of “liberals” to conservatives on college campuses is 30-1.
I put quotation marks around the term “liberals” because the practices of these professors show them to be anything but tolerant and inclusive, as the word “liberal” would imply. The exclusion of conservatives in the hiring process is itself an illiberal achievement. However, it is in the classroom that intolerance makes its most indelible mark.
According to a report issued by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA), 46% of students said their professors “use the classroom to present their personal political views,” regardless of subject. In other words a large number of professors are abusing their positions as educators to turn their classrooms into political platforms and indoctrinate their students on matters in which they have no academic expertise. A slightly greater number of students (48%), report that presentations of political issues on campus are “totally one-sided.”
According to the testimony of the students themselves, this includes cutting off students who present conservative viewpoints in class but allowing students with socialist and communist comments to ramble on with approval. It includes mid-term exams featuring topics like “Explain why George Bush is a war criminal,” as happened at a university in Colorado. (A student who wrote why Saddam Hussein was a war criminal got an “F” on this exam.) It includes professors who are abusive to their conservative students in class like the professor of law at the University of Colorado who told his class that the “R” in Republicans stands for “racist,” while dismissing a student who objected saying, “We have too many Nazis like you on campus.”
To remedy this situation and restore good manners to the university, I have drawn up an Academic Bill of Rights, which is presently being considered for legislation in twenty states. Critics have responded by claiming that there is no problem at all. They explain the faculty imbalance by saying that conservatives simply don’t pursue academic careers in the same proportion as leftists do. Well, why would they if their professors -- politically correct and sensitive in regard to everyone else’s feelings -- think nothing of calling them racists and Nazis in class? Even if, in the best of circumstances, more liberals would indeed choose an academic career, would the ratio be 30-1?
The bottom line is this: You can’t get a good education, if they’re only telling you half the story, even if you are a liberal. The effect of the present one-party state on college campuses is to diminish the educational experience for everyone, liberals and conservatives alike. It is damaging to our national fabric as well. If every institution is political in a divisive age like ours, then every institution will become that much poorer as a result.
And to what end? Would it really be so hard to introduce the principles of intellectual diversity, fairness and inclusion into our institutions of higher learning? I, for one, would not like to think so.