Tag Archives: conservatives

Surprise! Conservative Opinion Not Welcome at Yale

Yale remains deeply unwelcoming to students with conservative political beliefs, according to a new but massively unsurprising Yale Daily News survey distributed in October and reported last week.

Of the 2,054 respondents who completed the survey —about 38 % of all Yale undergrads— nearly 75 percent said they believe Yale does not provide a welcoming environment for conservative students to share their opinions on political issues. Among the 12 percent of respondents who described themselves as either “conservative” or “very conservative,” nearly 95 percent said the Yale community does not welcome their opinions. About two-thirds of respondents who described themselves as “liberal” or “very liberal” said Yale is not welcoming to conservative students.

More than 98 percent of respondents said Yale is welcoming to students with liberal beliefs, a finding we suspected all along. And among students who described themselves as “liberal” or “very liberal,” 85 percent said they are “comfortable” or “very comfortable” sharing their political views in campus discussions. That leaves a puzzling 15 % thinking, for whatever reason, that voicing liberal ideas is a dicey thing to do at Yale.

A 2015 article in the Harvard Crimson’s weekly magazine reported many conservative students at Harvard College believe their political opinions are neither respected nor appreciated. And in a recent article in The College Fix, a conservative online news outlet, a student at Columbia said that he feared he would be “physically assaulted” if he displayed conservative images or slogans on his clothing.

In an interview with the News, Yale College Dean Jonathan Holloway said the results of the survey were lamentable but unsurprising. Holloway attributed conservative students’ discomfort at sharing their views partly to the pervasiveness of social media.

“So much of your generation’s world is managed through smartphones. There’s no margin anymore for saying something stupid,” Holloway said. “People have been saying “dumb things forever, but when I was your age word of mouth would take a while. Now it’s instantaneous, now context is stripped away.”

Holloway added that Yale is one of many liberal arts universities where conservative views are highly unpopular, noting that in election years the political environment can become especially heated.

Attempting to walk his statements back, Dean Holloway said, “In no way did I intend to imply that the views of any student or faculty were stupid or should be dismissed. I meant to lament the fact that meaningful conversations were too often reduced or misconstrued in the shortened messages of social media, leading to a lack of understanding. I apologize if my words were misconstrued and taken to mean anything otherwise.”

A friend, a Yale grad who read about the survey in the Yale Daily News, offered this comment: The best part of the article is the italicized correction at the end, where Dean Holloway tries to walk back his quote earlier in the piece explaining that the reason conservative Yalies are intimidated is that social media now punishes people for saying stupid things. He called after the article appeared to have them add a note saying he wasn’t trying to suggest that conservatives are stupider than liberals — but of course that’s the only way the quote makes any sense. It was a classic Kinseyan gaffe: he accidentally said what he really thought. (And then was stupid enough to draw attention to it with a correction — God, what a feckless and hapless bunch of administrators at Yale.)


A College Guide to Viewpoint Diversity

With so many campuses under renewed pressure to create “safe spaces” from political speech and dissent, growing numbers are asking us at Heterodox Academy: Where can I (or my children) go to encounter at least some modicum of viewpoint diversity among the faculty? While there are many college guides with an eye to politics, they point students to the most liberal campuses, such as Bard, or to the few distinctively conservatives places, such as Liberty University or Grove City College.

Such guides, therefore, steer students to the most homogenous and sheltered campus communities. But if students want to know whether a university offers enough political diversity among its faculty to ensure a robust exchange of ideas, they will search in vain for a useful college guide. We at Heterodox Academy aim to provide direction for students looking to escape academia’s many monocultures.

Campuses Eradicate Conservative Thought

When Joshua Dunn and I began searching for conservative professors to interview for our new book, Passing on the Right: Conservative Professors in the Progressive University, we assumed that nearly all elite universities and colleges were equally monolithic, more or less. That was a reasonable assumption, since only 4 percent of all humanities professors and 5 percent of all social scientists self-identify as conservative.

But after locating more than 200 self-identified libertarian and conservative professors in six disciplines in the social sciences and humanities (economics, political science, sociology, history, philosophy, and literature), we discovered that they are not evenly sprinkled across elite colleges and universities. In fact, many prestigious universities have no libertarians or conservatives at all. But, happily, a few excellent schools, though still dominated by progressive academics, employ at least some right-of-center professors across a range of departments in the social sciences and humanities.

Where are these special places? They tend to be located in the South or in Catholic colleges. Among top public universities, the University of Virginia, Texas A&M, and the University of Texas are unusually diverse. Virginia boasts at least one right-wing professor in its departments of government, history, literature, and sociology. Some of these professors are even culturally conservative, such as sociologist Brad Wilcox. Texas A&M includes one or more right-wing faculty in economics, literature, history, and philosophy. The University of Texas, meanwhile, employs many conservatives across a range of subfields in its government department, one in sociology, and at least two in philosophy as well.

Emory University is among the most diverse elite private institutions. There you will find at least one right-wing professor in the departments of philosophy, history, political science, sociology, and literature. George Mason enjoys some diversity too, with many libertarians in its economics department and some conservatives in its political science department. At elite Catholic colleges, meanwhile, Notre Dame University, Catholic University, and Boston College are unusually diverse by academic standards, far more so than Georgetown, Villanova, or Santa Clara University.

Why So Few Conservatives in Higher Ed?

If you have your hearts set on an Ivy League education, I would recommend Harvard University. A couple of conservatives can be found in its departments of government and history, not to mention quite a few in economics. Many of these scholars are prominent and outspoken about their politics, such as Harvey Mansfield in government and Greg Mankiw in economics. It also boasts many genuinely heterodox thinkers such as Steven Pinker in psychology and Orlando Patterson in sociology.

The other Ivies seem far less diverse. We identified only two conservatives at Princeton and two at Yale. The University of Pennsylvania, meanwhile, has a couple of conservative historians and the heterodox John DiIulio in its government department. We found a single conservative at Dartmouth, and one at Brown as well. At Cornell we identified no conservatives in the fields we examined. (Jeremy Rabkin, who was once regarded as Cornell’s only right-wing professor, has since left the government department for George Mason’s law school.) [UPDATE: We also identified no conservatives at Columbia.]

If, on the other, hand, you are looking for an elite liberal arts college, Claremont McKenna College is the only such place with any political diversity. That may surprise many given the recent events at Claremont, which have included a push for more faculty training, diversity officers, and minority hiring. But unlike campuses that were engulfed in similar controversies, there has been a significant conservative countermovement at Claremont led by students and faculty, not to mention a mobilized block of centrist students.

These dissenting voices reflect the diversity of its students and faculty. Claremont has libertarians and conservatives in its departments of economics, literature, and, especially, in government. One recent study found that approximately 13 percent of its faculty members are registered as Republicans. That may seem like an unimpressive number. But compared to most other elite liberal arts colleges, where there are exactly zero conservatives, it’s a remarkable accomplishment. At neighboring Pomona, Pitzer, and Scripps Colleges, for example, there is not a single Republican faculty member. That is the norm, unfortunately.

We at Heterodox Academy intend to offer more assessments of viewpoint diversity at America’s most prestigious colleges and universities. For example, we plan to examine public records to determine the percentage of faculty who give money to Democratic political candidates, compared to Republican candidates. In the meantime, this very limited “first edition” of the Heterodox Academy Guide to Colleges may offer some guidance for those looking to escape the political monoculture that dominates so many American campuses.

Crossposted from Heterodox Academy.

Jon A. Shields is associate professor of government at Claremont McKenna College and coauthor with Joshua Dunn of Passing on the Right: Conservative Professors in the Progressive University.

No Conservatives, Please–We’re Colleges

the past several years, a number of studies have shown that registered
Democrats far outnumber registered Republicans in the academy, or in particular
academic departments (history, for instance) that would seem to have no reason
to have wide partisan imbalances.

the most interesting thing about these studies is not the finding itself–which,
after all, is a very crude measurement of ideological balance at any school–but
instead how academic defenders of the status quo have defended the figures. In
2004, for instance, after a Duke Conservative Union study, Duke’s then-Philosophy
chairman, Robert Brandon, justified the school’s partisan imbalance on the
following grounds: “We try to hire the best,
smartest people available. If, as John Stuart Mill said, stupid people are
generally conservative, then there are lots of conservatives we will never hire
. . .
Mill’s analysis may go some way towards explaining the power of
the Republican party in our society and the relative scarcity of Republicans in
academia.” Substitute “black” for “conservative” and imagine the on-campus
reaction that Brandon’s absurd words would have generated.

another study showed that University of
Iowa’s History Department didn’t even have one registered Republican, the
department’s then-chairman, Colin Gordon,
attributed the disparity to the fact that “about two thirds of Johnson County
are Democrats”–as if 67 percent equals 100 percent, and as if all of the
applicants for jobs in Iowa’s History Department came from Johnson County, Iowa. Gordon
added that “
the UI policy says not to discriminate; it does not
say we should be going out and getting diversity.” Imagine the outrage if a
major university’s History Department had only white males, and the
department’s chairman responded by remarking that men outnumbered women in the
school’s home county, and in any case the university’s policy “does not say we
should be going out and getting diversity.”

In both the Iowa and Duke cases, the defenders of the
academic status quo essentially proved the critics’ case. The partisan
disparities, in and of themselves, didn’t prove that the Duke or Iowa hiring
processes were necessarily flawed. But no reasonable observer could expect an
open Republican or conservative to be fairly treated by departments in which
figures like Gordon or Brandon played key roles. And–at least based on their
pedagogical approaches to their fields–Gordon and Brandon are what pass for
moderates in the contemporary academy.

reactions are worth keeping in mind in light of a recent article about a study
conducted by Dutch psychologists Yoel Inbar and
Joris Lammers. The duo measured not partisan affiliation but ideological
biases, and found that more than one-third of professors they examined admitted
they’d be less likely to hire the conservative when “
asked whether, in
choosing between two equally qualified job candidates for one job opening, they
would be inclined to vote for the more liberal candidate (i.e., over the


It’s hard to imagine
how anyone could offer any sort of rationalization for these findings. But in
the tradition of Robert Brandon and Colin Gordon, Massimo Pigliucci, chairman
of Lehman College’s philosophy department, does so. The Washington Times paraphrases Pigliucci’s argument: “The problem is
not that conservatives face discrimination; it’s that any hint of political
bias, whether conservative or liberal, necessarily flouts the standards of
objectivity to which scholarship must adhere.”

article continues, “‘It is to be expected that people would reject papers and
grant proposals that smacked of clear ideological bias,’ he says. 
Inbar and
Lammers, he says, should have examined the extent of bias against
liberal-leaning papers and grant proposals. If the degree of bias against liberals
and conservatives is similar, maybe the data on discrimination against
conservatives would not be so alarming after all.”

Beyond the
obvious–the Inbar/Lemmers study dealt with the hiring process, not grant
proposals–Pigliucci’s analysis makes no sense. The study was premised on a
question of whether professors would be “inclined to vote for the more liberal
candidate.” In short, the study did exactly what Pigliucci said it should have
done: it asked whether professors would differentiate between two equally
situated candidates, if the professors knew that one candidate was liberal and
the other conservative.

An illogical
response, I suppose, is all that can be used to rationalize indefensible
academic behavior.

Conservatives Love War, They Say

I write this on Nov. 2, before the election returns have come in. This morning at a weekly gathering at the James Madison Program, estimates of how many seats the Republicans would pick up in the house ranged from a low of 45 to a high of 72. Wherever it falls, as many have noted in the last year, it will dispel the “end of conservatism,” the “coming Democratic majority,” and other recent expressions of left-wing triumphalism.
How could the people who uttered them have misconstrued the ups and downs of politics so badly?
An article in the Chronicle of Higher Education last week suggests an answer. It’s by Corey Robin, a political scientist at Brooklyn College, and it bears the title “Why Conservatives Love War.” The title says it all:

Continue reading Conservatives Love War, They Say

Obama And The Campus Left

Apart from Barack Obama’s call for students who perform national service to receive a college tuition credit, issues related to higher education received scant attention in the 2008 campaign. Yet for those interested in meaningful reform on the nation’s college campuses, the election provides some intriguing possibilities—provided that Republicans move beyond the perspectives offered in the campaign and return to the higher education agenda articulated by conservatives and libertarians over the past 15 years.
On issues relevant to higher education policy, Obama was clearly the most centrist of the three major contenders for this year’s Democratic nomination. John Edwards, who hitched himself to the far left of the party, surely would have been a paragon of political correctness. And before her reinvention as a tribune of the white working class, Hillary Clinton employed an often crude, gender-based identity politics.
A January New York Times op-ed typified how the Clinton campaign and its supporters reflected the excesses of 1970s feminism. Gloria Steinem (erroneously) rejoiced that “women over 50 and 60, who disproportionately supported Senator Clinton, proved once again that women are the one group that grows more radical with age.”

Continue reading Obama And The Campus Left

Everything’s Great

A new Zogby poll confirms what everyone suspected:

58% of respondents found political bias on the part of college professors a “serious” problem. That’s encouraging. Who was concered? 91% of those self-described as “very conservative” found bias a problem while a scant 3% of liberals believed so. None of this is very surprising.

Somewhat more interestingly, 46% of respondents indicated that they believed that the quality of a college education was worse than it was 25 years ago. Only 29% believed that it had improved.
A stirring vote of confidence in American higher education.