Liberal Bias and the Academy

February 4, 2010

In 1951 when the precocious 26-year-old William F. Buckley, Jr. published God and Man at Yale charging the American academy for forcing a liberal ideology upon its students, it caused quite a stir among intellectual and academic circles, not to mention his alma mater. Dinesh Dsouza’s 1991 bestseller, Illiberal Education had a similar effect. However in recent years, “getting agitated about political correctness on college campuses has been the near exclusive sport of beleaguered conservative professors, rambunctious college Republicans, and David Horowitz.” An April 2007 article in the Claremont Review of Books, compared “complaining about political correctness on campus”….“to complaining about your taxes in April.” This rings true in my experiences, as a personal example, this past fall semester in my “20th Century Political Thought” course during a lecture on the late Richard Rorty’s magnum opus, Achieving our Country: Leftist Thought in America, my professor sympathized with Rorty’s criticism of conservatives’ critics of political correctness and liberal bias in the academy. He complained to the class, that conservatives are always talking about the great “political correctness conspiracy.” The question then is, do conservatives have a legitimate complaint about liberal bias in the American higher education system?

A recent article in The New York Times, titled “Professor is a Label that Leans to the Left,” provides substantial empirical research on the topic and arguably, a conclusive “yes.” What distinguishes this research study from “so much of the hubbub that surrounds this subject is their methodology.” This is one of the only studies to use data from the General Social Survey of opinions and social behaviors that compare professors with the rest of Americans, while the majority of these studies rely heavily on anecdotes. The thesis of the article is that the overwhelming majority of professors are liberals because their profession is “typecast.” The author compares this to the nursing profession, which is dominated by women (less than 6% are men) due to the fact that many consider nursing to be a “women’s career.” Sociologists call this a “gender-typed” profession, while professors, journalists, and social workers are considered “politically typed.” However, the study also showed that “typecasting” is of course, not the only cause for liberal slant in the profession.

“Nearly half of the “political lopsidedness in academia can be traced to four characteristics that liberals in general, and professors in particular, share: advanced degrees; a nonconservative religious theology (which includes liberal Protestants and Jews, and the nonreligious); an expressed tolerance for controversial ideas; and a disparity between education and income.”

For a substantive example, at my institution for instance, The George Washington University, the faculty donated $221, 490 (92 %) for Democratic candidates and an aggregate of $20, 500 (8%) for Republican candidates in the 2008 primary election. In the presidential election, the ratio is nearly the same, 91% to 9%. This is of course, not to be viewed in isolation, but rather as an example of the academy in general. In the 2004 presidential election, at President Bush’s alma mater (Yale) for example, the faculty donation ration of Kerry to Bush was 150:3. The ratio at Princeton wasn’t much different, 114:1, nor at Harvard, 406:13. These numbers along with the national collegiate trends such as the rejection of western civilization, euro-centrism, and the classical liberal arts curriculum in favor of new academic disciplines such as “Queer Studies” and “Africana Studies,” is all evidence that liberal bias in higher education is real and its existence today is arguably more prevalent than ever.

Sam K. Theodosopoulos is the Editor-at-Large of the GW YAF Blog.


“LGBT Studies” Goes to Far

January 14, 2010

This past Tuesday evening, January 12th, the Student Life Committee of the SA Senate voted to send two bills (SR-10-01 and SR-10-02) to the floor of the Senate for consideration, respectively advocating a gender-neutral housing program and a minor in LGBT studies.

This is more than ridiculous; it is nothing more than the progressive left attempting to use our University as a platform for forcing its agenda on the student body and in our classrooms. There is absolutely no need for a LGBT or “queer studies” minor or even discipline in the academy. Moreover, the proposal ignores other academic interests (such as naval or military science minors) that would benefit larger communities on campus whose academic needs remain unmet.

My friend and GW YAF Director of Press, Joe Naron, hit the nail on the head; “The new initiative for an “LGBT Studies minor” is nothing more than a means of political indoctrination to the homosexual agenda masquerading as an attempt at intellectual diversity.” GW and other universities around the country have been more than accommodating to gay and lesbian students, however this accommodation does not include a new academic discipline. “All of this is aimed at using colleges across the nation to reject any ideas of tradition and morality in gender and conduct and replace them with a queer narrative of society. Advocates of these bills openly admit that the reason behind these initiatives is not academic exploration of diverse topics, but an attempt at reducing discrimination.” Our university and higher education has no room for this kind of anti-intellectual, agenda driven “academic discipline.” What’s next? In keeping up with equality, should heterosexual students propose a “Straight Studies minor?” No, because it is beyond ridiculous, just as “LGBT Studies,” has no place in higher education.

Sam K. Theodosopoulos is the Editor-at-Large of the GW YAF Blog.


Free Speech!

October 8, 2009

In the October 8, 2009 issue of The Hatchet, the editors along with the editorial board of numerous other college newspaper publications criticize the Los Angeles City College President Jamillah Moore for hindering “students’ rights to a free press.” The editorial piece reminds us that “an attack on free speech anywhere is an attack on free speech everywhere.”

The George Washington University Young Americas Foundation solidly stands behind this principle and with The Hatchet on the importance of free speech. GW YAF commends The Hatchet for running YAF President and YAF Director of Press Travis Korson and Joe Naron’s Op-Ed that set the record straight about YAF’s stance on Michelle Obama as the commencement speaker. GWYAF would like to take this opportunity to remind editorial boards campus wide that free speech means objective reporting and examination of a story. Truly free speech also call for news outlets to publish opinions on both side of an issue, even if it is contrary to the political leanings of the editorial board. We hope The Hatchet continue to recognize the conservative voice at GW in the editorial pages of the newspaper.

Sam K. Theodosopoulos is the Editor-at-Large of the GW YAF Blog.