NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Colleges Opposed to Diversity of Ideas

September 15, 2003

This is the time of year when millions of parents send their children off to universities. Unfortunately, one price of getting one's children into a top school these days is that they may be subjected to four years of liberal propaganda, says Bruce Bartlett.

Those in academia like to call the liberal orientation of most college faculty a red herring. But objective research continually shows that it is not. The latest data appeared recently in the Chronicle of Higher Education:

  • A solid majority of those teaching at both public and private universities described themselves as being either liberal or far left.
  • Less than a third considered themselves middle of the road and just 15 percent said they were conservative.
  • Not surprisingly, 50 percent of the general public considers college professors to be more liberal than they are.
  • According to the same source, less than 28 percent of them would be classified as liberal or far left.
  • More than half consider themselves to be middle of the road and 21 percent say they are conservative.

The irony here is that unlike almost all other workers in society, university professors are granted tenure -- a lifetime job from which it is almost impossible to be fired -- precisely in order to guarantee freedom of expression. But in practice, the tenure process has become the means by which the left rigorously weeds out conservatives. In many university departments, opposition from a single faculty member is all that is necessary to deny tenure. These days, such a blackball is most likely to be used against a conservative, especially in disciplines such as sociology, history, English and government, says Bartlett. (See the figure.)

Source: Bruce Bartlett, "Colleges Opposed to Ideological Diversity," National Center for Policy Analysis, September 15, 2003.


Browse more articles on Education Issues