Surprise! College Faculties Are Mostly Democratic
Mitchell Langbert, an associate professor of business at Brooklyn College, published a study of the political affiliations of faculty members at 51 of the 66 liberal-arts colleges ranked highest by U.S. News in 2017. Commenting at Bloomberg this week, Democratic stalwart Cass Sunstein called the findings “eye-popping (even if they do not come as a great surprise to many people in academia).”
Democrats dominate most fields. In religion, Langbert’s survey found that the ratio of Democrats to Republicans is 70 to 1. In music, it is 33 to 1. In biology, it is 21 to 1. In philosophy, history and psychology, it is 17 to 1. In political science, it is 8 to 1.
The gap is narrower in science and engineering. In physics, economics and mathematics, the ratio is about 6 to 1. In chemistry, it is 5 to 1, and in engineering, it is just 1.6 to 1. Still, Lambert found no field in which Republicans are more numerous than Democrats.
The faculties of Wellesley, Williams and Swarthmore are overwhelmingly Democratic, with ratios at or above 120 to 1. At Harvey Mudd and Lafayette, the ratios are 6 to 1. At the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, it is 2.3 to 1; it is just 1.3 to 1 at West Point.
For two reasons, these numbers are genuinely disturbing, Sunstein wrote.
“The first involves potential discrimination on the part of educational institutions. Some departments might be disinclined to hire potential faculty members based on their political convictions. Such discrimination might take the form of unconscious devaluation of people whose views do not fit with the dominant perspective.
“The second reason is that students are less likely to get a good education, and faculty members are likely to learn less from one another if there is a prevailing political orthodoxy.”
It is far too simple, of course, to say that professors of history, political science, philosophy and the like should “look like America” in political terms. What matters is that they are experts in their fields, able to convey what they know. In faculty hiring, affirmative action for those with conservative political positions is not likely to serve anyone well.
Nonetheless, the current numbers make two points unmistakably clear.
First, those who teach in departments lacking ideological diversity have an obligation to offer competing views and to present them fairly and with respect. A political philosopher who leans left should be willing and able to ask students to think about the force of the argument for free markets, even if they produce a lot of inequality.
The Men's Rights Movement at Yale
It was bound to happen. Last May, a 30-year-old Ph.D. student has accused the University of Southern California and Yale of creating a toxic environment for male students. Kursat Christoff Pekgoz, a member of the National Coalition for Men, is partly basing his claim on data that shows 56% of all college students are women, and 42% are men. He filed a “Dear Colleague” letter, a Guide to Abolishing Affirmative Action for Women explaining how to file a Title IX complaint. Now, some of those complaints are being investigated. According to The Wall Street Journal, “The government dismissed parts of Mr. Pekgoz’s complaints, including concerns about Yale Women in Business and USC’s Gender Studies Program and its Center for Feminist Research, after finding that they don’t exclude or discriminate against men. But it will investigate Yale’s Women Faculty Forum, Yale Women Innovators and five other groups or programs at that school. It is also looking into USC scholarships and fellowships that are advertised as being open only to females, and a Women in Science and Engineering group that excludes males.”
‘Slap a Zionist’ at Vassar
Some 400 students at Vassar received email copies of “The Vassar College Disorientation Guide” to offset the impact of the annual Orientation Guide. Much of the text was either anti-Israel or anti-Semitic, including the advice to “Slap a Zionist.”
The Student Right to Counsel
The authors, Mike S. Adams and KC Johnson, argue in this article that in quasi-judicial campus tribunals, the student right to counsel is good for students and universities. Many colleges deny the right to counsel by prohibiting students’ lawyers, and sometimes the students themselves, from exercising the fundamental functions of an attorney, such as presenting evidence, cross-examining witnesses, or speaking to anyone but the client during a hearing. Such restrictions, moreover, exist at a time of unprecedented pressure—from the federal government, the media, and social activists—on colleges to adjudicate quasi-criminal behavior, especially sexual misconduct, outside the due process protections of the criminal justice system.