[Paleopsych] American Enterprise: Conformity on Campus

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Conformity on Campus
American Enterprise, 2005 June

First, the summary from CHE:

News bulletin from the Chronicle of Higher Education, 5.6.9
Magazine & Journal Reader

    A glance at the June issue of The American Enterprise: The bully
    pulpit in academe

    Not only do an increasing number of professors at colleges around the
    country have liberal political affiliations, they are bringing their
    politics into the classroom, to the detriment of their students, three
    authors argue.

    Anne D. Neal, president of the American Council of Trustees and
    Alumni, a national group that advocates a traditional curriculum,
    describes a study that her organization commissioned of undergraduates
    from 50 of the top-ranked colleges in the country. She reports that
    almost a third of the respondents said that they felt that they had to
    agree with their professor's political stance to get a good grade.
    Forty-six percent said that professors used the classroom to present
    their political views. Such responses came not only from
    conservatives, she writes, adding that a majority were from students
    who identified themselves as liberal.

    "One simply cannot deny, after these findings, that faculty are
    importing politics into their teaching in a way that affects a
    student's ability to learn," she writes.

    David A. French, president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in
    Education, says that his organization "received more than 500 credible
    complaints of deprivation of civil liberties" on campuses last year,
    and that most of the complaints concerned suppression of speech by
    those on the "left."

    "We're reaching a tipping point," he writes. "The higher-education
    establishment will either open itself back up to the full marketplace
    of ideas, or it will see its ivy-covered walls battered down by force
    -- whether class-action litigation or extreme legislation."

    The article also includes an excerpt from an essay written for The New
    York Observer by Fred Siegel, a professor of history at the Cooper
    Union in New York City.

    "Far from teaching the mechanics of knowledge," Mr. Siegel writes,
    college professors "are in fact preachers of sorts, spreading a gospel
    akin to that of Howard Dean."

    The article, "Conformity on Campus," is online at

    --Eric Wills

    Background articles from The Chronicle:
      * [54]Left-Wing Bias in Education Schools Is Overstated by
        Conservative Critics, 2 Reports Suggest (5/26/2005)
      * [55]Conservative Professors Are Less Likely to Advance in Academe,
        Study Finds (3/31/2005)
      * [56]This Just In: Democrats Outnumber Republicans on American
        Faculties, Studies Find (11/19/2004)
      * [57]Conservatives in a Liberal Landscape (9/24/2004)
      * [58]Patrolling Professors' Politics (2/13/2004)

      * [59]When Students Complain About Professors, Who Gets to Define
        the Controversy? (5/13/2005)
      * [60]Conservatives, Too, Are Politicizing Campuses (3/18/2005)
      * [61]Liberal Groupthink Is Anti-Intellectual (11/12/2004)


   54. http://chronicle.com/daily/2005/05/2005052605n.htm
   55. http://chronicle.com/daily/2005/03/2005033102n.htm
   56. http://chronicle.com/daily/2004/11/2004111905n.htm
   57. http://chronicle.com/weekly/v51/i05/05a00801.htm
   58. http://chronicle.com/weekly/v50/i23/23a01801.htm
   59. http://chronicle.com/weekly/v51/i36/36b01201.htm
   60. http://chronicle.com/weekly/v51/i28/28b02001.htm
   61. http://chronicle.com/weekly/v51/i12/12b00601.htm

E-mail me if you have problems getting the referenced articles.


Conformity on Campus
By Anne Neal, David French, Fred Siegel

We hear a lot these days about the importance of diversity in ensuring that 
ideas are heard fairly. But the individuals who are most insistent about this 
are interested only in racial and sex diversity. Intellectual and ideological 
diversity is not what the enforcers of political correctness on campuses and 
other sectors have in mind.

This magazine has helped pioneer evidence of how politically unbalanced most 
college campuses have become. Most recently (see our January/February 2005 
issue) we presented the findings of University of California economist Daniel 
Klein, who found that the ratio of Democrats to Republicans in social sciences 
and humanities faculty nationwide is at least 8:1. At universities like 
Stanford and Berkeley it is 16:1 in favor of Democrats.

Twenty-five years ago, the ratio was less skewed, at 4:1. In the future it is 
going to be even more skewed. Among the young junior faculty at Stanford and 
Berkeley, there are now 183 Democrats, and just six Republicans--a 30:1 tilt. 
As today's older professors retire, political lopsidedness will grow even more 

After years of denying the ideological uniformity of colleges, this accumulated 
evidence has now caused many academics to shift to claiming that the lack of 
political diversity on campus doesn't matter. It doesn't affect what gets 
taught, they say.

But in a recent panel discussion at the American Enterprise Institute, two 
experts warned that academic one-sidedness matters very much indeed, and is 
clearly having harmful results. We present their statements below, along with 
an extract from one professor's recent pointed analysis of this subject.

Anne Neal
President of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni

There are now countless stories (and large volumes of hard data) about 
political pressure in college classrooms, and faculty hostility to non-liberal 
viewpoints. When confronted with this evidence, what did the higher education 
establishment do? Did it conduct its own surveys to see if the claims were 
valid? Did it try to determine whether the education of students was being 
impaired? Did it affirm its commitment to the robust exchange of ideas? No. It 
offered the classic institutional dodge: Deny the facts and attack the accuser.

Roger Bowen, president of the American Association of University Professors, 
stated that political affiliations are of little consequence in the classroom. 
Professor of political science David Kimball asserted that "any concerns about 
indoctrination are overblown." John Millsaps, a spokesman for the University of 
Georgia, insisted "we have no evidence to suggest that students are being 
intimidated by professors as regards students' freedom to express their 
opinions and beliefs."

My organization, which represents college trustees and alumni, wanted to move 
beyond anecdotes and test the claim that politics was not affecting the 
classroom. So we commissioned the Center for Survey Research and Analysis at 
the University of Connecticut to undertake a scientific survey of 
undergraduates in the top 50 colleges and universities, as ranked by U.S. News 
& World Report. We went right to the student population who are directly 
affected, who have no reason to misrepresent what is happening there, and asked 
them about their experiences.

What did we find? Forty-nine percent of students stated that professors 
frequently inject political comments into their courses even if they have 
nothing to do with the subject. When we asked students if they felt free to 
question their professors' assumptions, almost one third said they felt they 
had to agree with their professor's political view to get a good grade.

We also explored whether students were being exposed to competing arguments on 
today's issues. Forty-eight percent of all students reported that presentations 
on political issues seemed completely one-sided, and 46 percent said professors 
used the classroom to present their personal political views. Forty-two percent 
said reading assignments represented only one side of a controversial issue.

The students voicing concerns are not a small minority--nearly half reported 
abuses of one kind or another. And they are not just conservatives: a majority 
of the respondents consider themselves liberals or radicals. Moreover, the 
majority of the students we surveyed are studying subjects like biology, 
engineering, and psychology--where there is no reason for politics to enter the 
classroom in the first place. It does anyway: Fully 68 percent of all students 
heard their professors make negative classroom comments about George Bush, 
versus 17 percent who were exposed to criticisms of John Kerry.

One simply cannot deny, after these findings, that faculty are importing 
politics into their teaching in a way that affects a student's ability to 
learn. This should trouble us all. Responsible academic freedom involves not 
only the professors' prerogatives, but also the freedom of students to learn 
free of political indoctrination.

David French
President of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education

Faced with clear evidence that colleges lack ideological diversity, many campus 
apologists say "So what?" At FIRE, which represents students in academic 
freedom battles, we face the question "so what?" every day. And I can assure 
you the problem of ideological uniformity on campus goes far beyond the fact 
that many red-state suburban kids now get their views attacked in the 
classroom. Ideological uniformity in higher education has led to daily, 
systematic deprivation of the civil liberties of students and professors.

First, ideological uniformity has led to the suppression of dissenting speech. 
I'm not talking about extreme expressions of dissent; I'm talking about things 
such as an "affirmative action" bake sale sponsored by that notorious radical 
organization, the College Republicans. I'm talking about students who question 
whether an academic department should show

Fahrenheit 9/11 in all classes before the election to persuade students to vote 
for Kerry.

These aren't isolated cases. In 2004, FIRE received more than 500 credible 
complaints of deprivation of civil liberties on campus. We surveyed the speech 
policies of the 200 leading universities and found freedom-squelching speech 
codes at 70 percent of those schools. In the last four years, as many as 50 
universities have made attempts to eject evangelical student organizations, or 
to restrict them so thoroughly as to effectively rob them of their distinct 
religious voices. At many campuses, students are subjected from the moment they 
arrive to mandatory "orientations" and diversity training designed to shock 
many of them out of the views they bring from home.

At FIRE, we have people from across the ideological spectrum on our staff and 
on our board. And even the most dyed-in-the-wool liberal on our staff will 
acknowledge that 80-85 percent of our cases involve suppression of speech by 
the Left.

We're reaching a tipping point. The higher education establishment will either 
open itself back up to the full marketplace of ideas, or it will see its 
ivy-covered walls battered down by force--whether class action litigation or 
extreme legislation. We have reached the point where the self-regulation of 
higher education is no longer credible.

Universities say it's people like me, red staters who grew up in middle-class 
suburbs, who need their views challenged. In my experience, the exact reverse 
is true. I went to a Christian undergraduate school and then went to law school 
at Harvard, and I can tell you that the professors at my Christian college were 
more open to challenges to campus orthodoxy than my professors at Harvard Law 

When I applied to teach at Cornell Law School, an interviewer noticed my 
evangelical background and asked, "How is it possible for you to effectively 
teach gay students?" If I had not given what I consider to be, in all modesty, 
an absolutely brilliant answer to the question, I don't think I would have 
gotten the job. I sat in admissions committee meetings at Cornell in which 
African-American students who expressed conservative points of view were 
disfavored because "they had not taken ownership of their racial identity." An 
evangelical student was almost rejected before I pointed out that the 
reviewer's statement that "they did not want Bible-thumping or God-squading on 
campus" was illegal and immoral.

Academics who say "so what?" need to realize that ideological uniformity leads 
to restrictive speech codes and the suppression of Constitutionally protected 
speech on campus. It leads to the exclusion of people of faith from campuses. 
It twists hiring and admissions and classroom discussion.

No campus official should define what is orthodox in politics, religion, or 
law. Yet that happens every day to thousands of students. It is a deprivation 
of their civil liberties, and it will stop sooner or later, one way or another. 
The real question is: Will the academy wake up and begin to put its own house 
in order, or will it act like Dan Rather--delaying reform until an entire 
culture has revolted, then shuffling off into oblivion muttering about a 
right-wing conspiracy?

Fred Siegel
Professor of history at New York City's Cooper Union

Academia, taken as a whole, has become dominated by freeze-dried 1960s radicals 
and their intellectual progeny, who have turned much of the humanities and 
social sciences into a backwater. In 1989, when Eastern Europeans were 
reclaiming the ideals of human rights and political freedom, students and 
faculty on the Stanford campus were marching with 1988 Presidential candidate 
Jesse Jackson shouting "Hey hey, ho ho, Western Culture's got to go." Up the 
road, Berkeley--dominated by its university--announced it was adopting Jena in 
communist East Germany as a sister city, this just a few months before the wall 

Academics have been getting it wrong over and over again. Criminologists were 
convinced that crime couldn't be cut; sociologists were sure that welfare 
reform couldn't work because it didn't go to the root causes of poverty; and 
Sovietologists were certain that the USSR of the 1980s had matured into a 
successful, even pluralistic society. As for radical Islam, the consensus view 
of the Middle Eastern Studies Association was that the danger to America came 
from a "terror industry" conjuring up imagined threats in order to justify 
American aggression.

But even as academia's batting average has declined, its claim to superior 
knowledge has expanded. The old ideal of disinterested scholarship, or at least 
the importance of attempting to be objective, has been displaced. In 2003 the 
University of California's Academic Assembly did away with the distinction 
between "interested" and "disinterested" scholarship by a 45-3 vote. As 
Berkeley law professor Robert Post explained, "the old statement of principles 
was so outlandishly disconnected to what university teaching is now that it 
made no sense to think about it that way."

The reality, as Post recognized, is that many professors now literally profess. 
Far from teaching the mechanics of knowledge, they are in fact preachers of 
sorts, spreading a gospel akin to that of Howard Dean. For professors part of 
grievance studies departments, like "Indian" poseur Ward Churchill, there was 
never any expectation of objectivity. They were knowingly hired as activists 
and are now puzzled as to why this has become a problem for some of their 
students and the larger public. After all, what they preach is built into the 
very orientation students are given when they arrive on campus. New students at 
many schools are quite literally given a new faith.

In the absence of intellectual competition (other than the disputes between 
left and lefter), academia will continue to get it wrong. This might be of 
limited concern if not for the fact that the sheltered students who emerge from 
this one-party state are left bereft of any means of negotiating with reality 
once they engage in politics as adults. Instead of being given the background 
knowledge of American institutions they need to make judgments as citizens, 
they are fed attitudes. Credulous undergraduates fall prey to priestly 
performers who claim to be initiating them into the subterranean mysteries. 
Those who buy into this worldview are left both insufferably pretentious and 
substantively silly.

This is condensed from an essay Siegel wrote for the New York Observer.

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