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Apalling Lack of Political Diversity in Ithaca College Faculty By: Mark Finkelstein and Michelle Meredith
FrontPageMagazine.com | Tuesday, April 15, 2003

  • 117 Democrats/Greens, only 8 Republicans/Conservatives (93.6 percent vs. 6.4 percent)
  • No Political Diversity in Department of . . . Politics!
  • Republicans call for change

A study made public today reveals a stunning lack of political diversity in the faculty of Ithaca College (IC), with 117 registered Democrats or Greens (93.6 percent) versus only 8 registered Republicans or Conservatives (6.4 percent).

At a debate on affirmative action on April 2nd at IC, Tompkins County Republican Chairman Mark Finkelstein contended that there is a distinct lack of political diversity in the IC faculty. IC President Peggy Williams, who attended the debate, declined to acknowledge a lack of political diversity on the IC faculty.  IC Professor Gwen Seaquist, who along with Finkelstein was a member of the debate panel, asserted that to the contrary, there was considerable political diversity on the IC faculty. When Finkelstein cited national studies demonstrating a preponderance of liberals in college faculties, President Williams and Professor Seaquist pointed out that IC was not included in those studies, and challenged Finkelstein to substantiate his claims.

Subsequent to the debate, the Tompkins County Republican Party and the IC Republicans, a student group, decided to take up the challenge that President Williams and Professor Seaquist had presented. They undertook a study of the political party registration of the faculty members in departments of the social sciences and related fields at IC: Anthropology, Business, Economics, English, Environmental Studies, Health Policy Studies, History, Politics, Psychology, Religion and Philosophy, Sociology, Speech Communication, TV-Radio (includes journalism program) and Writing. (Departments in the hard sciences, such as Biology, or in applied fields, such as Physical Therapy, Sports Studies or Speech Pathology, were not included in the study.)

The names of the faculty members in the respective departments were obtained from the faculty lists appearing on the IC website. 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 recent data base of all registered voters in Tompkins County, in which IC and the City of Ithaca are located. For a variety of reasons, including residence outside Tompkins County, a choice not to register, or citizenship in another country, affiliations for all faculty members could not be determined. A number of faculty members who are registered voters did not register with a political party, and two were registered with the Independence Party, which can be considered middle-of-the-road.

But among those faculty members registered in TompkinsCounty with either a party of the right – Republican or Conservative, or a party of the left – Democratic or Green, the results were stunning in revealing an almost total lack of diversity.

Study Highlights

Of the 125 faculty members registered with either the Democrats/Greens or the Republicans/Conservatives, 117 were registered with either the Democrats or Greens and only 8 with the Republicans or Conservatives. 

  • In percentage terms, 93.6 percent were Democrats or Greens, only 6.4% were Republicans or Conservatives.
  • If there is one department in which political diversity would be crucial, it is the Department of Politics. Yet the study revealed that the Department of Politics is composed of eight Democrats and not a single Republican!

  • History is another field where diversity should be considered essential.  Yet, as with its colleagues in Politics, there was not a single Republican to be found: 7 Democrats, 0 Republicans.

  • The English Department also had a “perfect” record, with 13 Democrats and no Republicans.

  • The Departments of Psychology, Sociology and Environmental Studies were also without a single Republican or Conservative.

  • While not quite achieving the total “shut-out” of some of its fellow departments, the Department of Writing more than compensated with stunning quantity: 25 Democrats/Greens versus one lonely Republican.

  • Even in the Department of Business, which might have been expected to be a stronghold of conservative thinkers, Democrats overwhelmed Republicans by 13/2.

  • The most “diverse” departments were Economics and Health Policy Studies, where Democrats outnumber Republicans by “only” 3/2 and 2/1, respectively.
Department chairmen exercise powerful influence over faculty hiring and advancement.  Number of Republican or Conservative Department Chairmen identified? Zero.

IC Republican Chairwoman Michelle Meredith commented, “This study confirms what we as IC students experience daily: a virtual monopoly of liberal faculty members, a near-total absence of professors sympathetic to Republican or conservative principles. How can students properly approach politics, psychology, sociology, English or history from a critical perspective if every professor teaches from a similar point of view?”

Said Tompkins County Republican Party Chairman Finkelstein: “These results mirror the trend throughout academia in which faculties are dominated by liberals to the exclusion of Republicans and conservatives.” He added, “The hypocrisy is stunning."

At the IC debate on affirmative action, great lip service was paid by representatives of the college to the overriding importance of diversity. But when it comes to the kind of diversity that really matters in an institution of higher learning – diversity of thought – the powers-that-be practice the most rigid discrimination.

The IC Republicans and the Tompkins County Republican Committee issued the following joint statement:

"As a major institutional goal, Ithaca College has formally committed itself to promoting diversity. We call upon the faculty and administration of Ithaca College to honor that commitment by pledging to seek true diversity of thought in its faculty.

"Specifically, we call on Ithaca College to seek significantly increased representation of Republicans and conservatives in its faculties in the social sciences and related fields."

Study Results

Identified Democrats
& Greens
Identified Republicans
& Conservatives
Anthropology 5 0
Business 13 2
Economics 3 2
English 13 0
Environmental Studies 5 0
Health Policy Studies 2 1
History 7 0
Politics 8 0
Psychology 10 0
Religion and Philosophy 5 1
Sociology 6 1
Speech Communication 3 0
TV-Radio (includes Journalism) 12 1
Writing 25 1
TOTALS 117 9

Note: Although party affiliation is a matter of public record in New York, 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.

Mark Finkelstein is Chairman of the Tompkins County (NY) Republican Party. Michelle Meredith is Chairwoman of the Ithaca College Republicans.

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