The Politicized University and its Future

The American university campus has become some of the most politicized real estate on the planet. In some sense, it has always been so. Controversy…


The American university campus has become some of the most politicized real estate on the planet. In some sense, it has always been so. Controversy is nothing new to the campus culture, after all.
Nevertheless, the political liberalism of the academic elite is becoming more and more dominant and pronounced.
Writing in The Weekly Standard, James Piereson explains that the much-touted goal of diversity is a cover for ideological conformity:
As it happens, the contemporary university is diverse only as a matter of definition and ideology, but not in practice or reality. A recent national survey of college faculty by Stanley Rothman, Robert Lichter, and Neil Nevitte showed that over 72 percent held liberal and left of center views, while some 15 percent held conservative views. The survey also found that, over time, and especially since 1980, academic opinion has moved steadily leftward as the generation shaped by the 1960s has taken control of academe. In the humanities and social sciences, where political views are more closely related to academic subject matter, the distribution of opinion is even more skewed to the left. Unlike professors in the past, moreover, many contemporary teachers believe it is their duty to incorporate their political views into classroom instruction. Thus students at leading colleges report that they are subjected to a steady drumbeat of political propaganda in their courses in the humanities and social sciences.
The same researchers found that 50 percent of college faculty were Democrats, while just 11 percent were Republicans, which should surprise no one since the diversity ideology that drives the university is the same one that defines the Democratic party. Other researchers have reported even more lopsided distributions. Daniel Klein, an economist at Santa Clara University, found in a national survey of professors that Democrats outnumber Republicans in social science and humanities departments by a ratio of 7 to 1. Meanwhile, college administrators and faculty continue to promote campaigns for cosmetic diversity even as their institutions are becoming more monolithic in the one area academics should care about most–that is, in the area of ideas.
Students, parents, and all those who care about the future of the American university should check out Piereson’s article, “The Left University,” published in the October 3, 2005 edition of The Weekly Standard.

R. Albert Mohler Jr.

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