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Wells of Indoctrination By: Kristy Lee Hochenberger
FrontPageMagazine.com | Friday, November 07, 2003

  • 34 of 37 faculty members registered with Democratic, Liberal or Working Families parties; only three registered Republican (92 percent vs. 8 percent).
  •  Conservative Students Describe Feelings of Intimidation in the Classroom.

Student Republicans Call for Change

Aurora, NY: A study made public on Thursday, November 6, reveals an almost total lack of political diversity in the faculty of Wells College, an all-women’s college located in Aurora, NY. 

Of the 37 faculty members in the social and human sciences departments registered with either a party of the Left (Democratic, Liberal or Working Families) or a party of the Right (Republican, Conservative or Right-to-Life), the results revealed a stunning lack of balance. Thirty-four faculty members were found to be registered with parties of the left, compared to only three registered as Republicans, a lopsided ratio of 92 percent to 8 percent.

All of the college’s departments in the humanities and social sciences were studied.

The study was conducted by a student group, the Wells College Republicans, with the cooperation of the Tompkins County Republican Committee.

The names of the faculty members were obtained from the 2003-2004 Wells College Student Handbook.

In New York State, political party registration is a matter of public record.  The party affiliation of the faculty members was determined by reference to a database of registered voters in Cayuga, Tompkins, Cortland, Onondaga and Seneca counties.

For a variety of reasons, including residence outside the area, a decision not to register, or citizenship in another country, no voter registration was found for some faculty members.  One faculty member was registered with no political party.

Study Highlights

Thirty-seven faculty members were found to be registered with either a party of the left (Democratic, Liberal or Working Families) or a party of the right (Republican, Conservative or Right-to-Life).   Thirty-four of the thirty-seven were registered with parties of the left (31 Democrats, 2 Liberals and 1 Working Families) and only three with parties of the right (all 3 Republicans).  In percentage terms, 92 percent were Democrats/Liberals/Working Families; 8 percent were Republicans.

A number of departments were completely devoid of Republicans: Anthropology, Art History, Book Arts, Education, English, Languages, Music, Philosophy, Religion, Sociology, Studio Art and Theater.

Quotes from Students

Said Wells Republican Chairman Kristy Lee Hochenberger, a junior from Syracuse, NY: “On the one hand, Wells prides itself on its celebration of diversity, and the college is filled with a variety of committees and programs supposedly intended to promote such diversity. 

“However, in an academic institution, the kind of diversity that matters most is diversity of thought.  Our study makes clear that there is a dire lack of such diversity in the Wells faculty. 

“Many of our Wells professors forcefully voice their liberal political views in class.  As a result, a number of us with more conservative or traditional opinions feel intimidated and reluctant to open up. Students cannot receive a well-rounded, balanced education if they are only hearing one side of the issues.”

A first-year Wells student from New Hampshire stated: “In some of my classes, my professors give the impression that my more traditional views lack value or merit, and are summarily dismissed.  I’ve gone from being an outgoing, outspoken person to someone who is now more reluctant to express myself in class.”

Said a Wells student from Massachusetts: “I find that in my classes, the aggressively liberal standpoint of a number of my professors creates an intimidating atmosphere in which I don’t feel comfortable voicing my conservative viewpoint.”

Wells Republicans’ Proposals for Change

Stated Wells Republican Chairman Kristy Lee Hochenberger: “In light of the findings of the study and the experiences of a number of Wells students, we call upon Wells to implement a number of changes.  We will be seeking a meeting with Wells President Lisa Marsh Ryerson to discuss our proposals.”

Specifically, the Wells College Republicans call upon Wells College:

  • To fulfill its stated commitment to diversity by seeking to redress the gross political imbalance in the faculty, through the hiring of faculty members with a broad diversity of political views.
  • To promote an atmosphere in the classroom of openness and respect for divergent views, particularly those of traditional and conservative students.
  • To pledge the adherence of Wells to the Academic Bill of Rights, a document intended to promote academic freedom and diversity on American campuses. See Students for Academic Freedom's website for more information.

Note: Although party affiliation is a matter of public record in New York State, it is not the goal of the study’s authors to publicize the affiliations of individual faculty members.  The names and political affiliations of individuals have therefore not been included.  That data is, however, available upon request.

Kristy Lee Hochenberger is Chair of the Wells College Republicans.

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