Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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No Surpise Here: Liberals Dominate Higher Education in America

In today’s ’Washington Post,’ Howard Kurtz reports that liberals outnumber conservatives on America’s College campuses. Here is the article.

Kurtz’s article is based on a survey of 1,643 faculty at 183 four-year Colleges. The survey was conducted by Robert Lichter, Stanley Rothman, and Neil Nevitte.

The survey found that liberals outnumber conservative by 72% to 15% in all colleges, 87% to 13% in elite colleges, and, that 81% of Humanities faculty are liberal, 75% of social science faculty are liberal, and even that liberals outnumber conservatives among business faculty by 49% to 39%.

What is Charlotte Simmons to do?

Discussions - 12 Comments

Ok, now we need a survey of how many students feel coerced into becoming more liberal by the staff of their universities. Then we’ve got something.

I know some students who pretend to be liberal so they get better grades. These students refer to their assignments as "exercises in imagination". These same students attempt to be honest and scholarly, until they detect penalty in their grades, then they play liberal.


Joel...since I take it you are a liberal, why is discrimination obvious when 1) it is a racial minority that is severely underrepresented, but not when 2) it is a political minority that is severely underrepresented? Can you spell h.y.p.o.c.r.i.s.y.?

Take my word for it...those ratios are the byproduct of outrageous discrimination. And students are being victimized by your brethren on a daily basis. Lived through it, and I know it. But I guess to a fish, the water is invisible.


So are you saying that since conservatives are underrepresented in the academy, we should work to even the playing field by hiring more? If so, how do we do that? Determine the ration of conservatives to liberals in the US and hire enough conservative profs. to fit that percentage?

If that’s the case, should we "properly" represent all racial minorities as well? If ther are more Black profs. on a faculty than the national percentage is reflecting, do we fire them and hire more Whites? I question your "easy" equation of racial discrimination to political discrimination.

Andrew -- look, it’s liberal logic, not mine. This isn’t a matter of preparation or’s a matter of filtering. Conservative students are discouraged from even picking academics. If they make it into grad. school then they are systematically marginalized (in terms of grades, grants, assistantships, and so on). If they actually earn a Ph.D. then they are filtered out in the interview process (certain topics are taboo, and if you research them you are automatically a conservative). If somehow they get a job, unless they are absolutely stellar they are denied tenure (that’s why you have even fewer conservatives at the elite schools). Those that jump through all these hoops are 1) very lucky, 2) very gifted, or 3) both.


It sounds like you ought to be writing studies about conservative profs. Also, it’s strange that conservatives are now using "liberal logic" in relation to hiring practices at colleges and universities, since it seems like perpetuating the "PC" attitude of higher ed. is the last thing they would want to do. Can you spell i.r.o.n.y.?

Well, Andrew, has it occurred to you that it has to get worse before it gets better? Before you can de-PC the academy you have to have some power, and that takes more than 10 to 15% of the faculty. Turning an enemy’s weapons against itself is a pretty common tactic.

Yes, that had occured to me. Good luck taking on all those "enemies," young warrior.


I’m still waiting on the numbers. I’m not attacking you as "conservative", and you have no idea what my political and social views are until we can go out for soup and a sandwich. Moving on...

I’m interested to see what percentage of students have either felt forced to change their views (low self esteem? Not able to stand ground?), have stood their ground and been "punnished" (as in Mr. Maddox’s post, or other such ways), or really didn’t feel that influenced. I can talk to friends who attended private liberal arts colleges like Bethel, Macalaster, or St. Olaf (in Minnesota, where I live) and get a number of stories. What it comes down to for now (until this survey is made) is that students have a choice to go to whatever higher educational institution they want. I choose Macalaster, I must be a pretty liberal fella; Bethel, I must be rather conservative; St. Olaf, I might succeed in any stance, mostly depending on department. If you want to go to a university that is known to have a skew one way or another, it should serve as a benefit to work harder to voice your political or social views. You can prove your conviction to yourself, and prove to some guy or gal on a stage lecturing that they may be able to learn something from their students.

Those that jump through all these hoops are 1) very lucky, 2) very gifted, or 3) both.

That is very true. For either conservatives or liberals. If you can prove that your convictions will not get in the way of someone’s education, that’s the way to go. Perhaps we need to look into punative measures to slap or de-tenure those who grade inappropriately?

And Dain:

I’m worried that your arguements would make it horrible for a teacher to teach creation and refuse evolution in a prep-school. There should be no religious, social or political bias that early in our education either, then, right?

There is more to it when discussing minority representation in terms of race (social injustice on a real tangible, "everyone can identify with the oppression" way). The minority representation can be approached a number of ways. Do we know why more conservatives have not chosen academia as a workplace? Joseph Knippenberg says in a post above,

"Rosemary G.]Feal, the MLA executive director,’We profess the liberal arts,’ she said. ’That comes from freedom that we hold as a high value, from the pursuit of the truth, the pursuit of academic freedom...’”

What type of person puts in the time to get a PhD and teach, instead of hit the job force in a more attractive placement? A person who wants to educate and loves their field of study, I hope. (That’s what I appreciated when I was studying) These people can be from any social or political background. If there is corruption in the hiring process, it should be aproached and changed. The answer, however, is not in ousting liberals outright. If we want fair, equal and unbiased professors in our universities and colleges, we need to hire those who will have an open mind to many differing views. If the institution can make this a hiring point, we can hold those responsible when they are biased and unfair. The problem is, you need to change the Board of Regents, Presidents of universities and colleges and make them take a pledge to offer unbiased education.

If students feel challeneged, good! We all should! That’s why I went to college--I wanted a tough ride to show me what I am made of and really make me have ownership of what I was learning. If you want an easy ride, go elsewhere. This is why those trained in higher education are payed more--they have a better knowledge of their subject matter.

If Professors want to teach and hold learning in its purest porm, they should allow the learning process to be guided...not coerced! Hold them responsible! If a conservative wants the job and a liberal wants the job, whoever has the better resume should be allowed to teach--not who has the proper ideology to "match" the school. But I digress. If you attend a college, you know what you are getting into. The beauty of it is--you can go wherever you apply and are admitted! Anywhere! World-wide!


I wish people could freely choose their own schools, but that’s never been the case. Many are constrained to public institutions, and many just don’t know any better.

I don’t want "classroom" police or anything like that. I just want some ideological balance in the academy. Right now a humanities or social science department is lucky, LUCKY to have a single conservative oasis for its sad, pathetic remnant of overtly-conservative grads and undergrads. If liberals were right about the world then I wouldn’t object, but what they are practicing is a form of secular religion. Most of their prescriptions for society are based on implausible assumptions, which they defend like Jesuits! Ergo, there is no natural (or market-based) reason for the academy to be so lopsidedly leftist. It’s a selection problem, pure and simple.

My solution? Forget about the classroom. Take HIRING out of the academy’s hands. Alums, government officials, students...all should be involved in new oversight procedures to assure that alternative points of view are represented in hiring (and firing). Yes, this would introduce politics into the academy...but no more than we already have, in my opinion.

Dain: I like the sounds of that. It would make much sense to put more hiring processes into the hand of student leaders. The beauty of public institutions is that they are public, and therefore there should be more public influence on who is hired. My thoughts on anti-coercion with staff still stands--I can’t see any reason that a staff member should be getting away with improper and irrational grading due to political dissent or agreement--no matter what their political views.

"If liberals were right about the world then I wouldn’t object, but what they are practicing is a form of secular religion."

Agreed, and this is why I would stand behind more regulation of the classroom. Great discussion!

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