Does Academia Hate Conservatives?

Conservatives often portray academia as a place teeming with the influence of liberalism. The all-powerful liberal professors, so the stereotype goes, indoctrinate students with Marxism and political correctness, while muscling conservatives out of the ivory tower, lest their hated views bring a diversity of opinion to campus.

But of course, like any caricature, it’s false. Matthew Woessner, a political scientist at Penn State in Harrisburg, has been researching what he calls the supposed “Plight of Conservatives in Higher Education,” and the new issue of Academe includes an article he wrote about his research.

His conclusions shouldn’t surprise anyone to the left of Rush Limbaugh. He writes in Academe that

I began to realize that Republicans and conservatives, while vastly outnumbered in academia, were, for the most part, successful, happy, and prosperous… Asked to consider what they would do if given the opportunity to “begin your career again,” 91 percent of Democratic faculty and 93 percent of Republican faculty answered that they would “definitely” or “probably” want to be a college professor. Similarly, few right-leaning students or administrators claimed to have been the victims of political mistreatment. Like their Democratic counterparts, most were satisfied with their experience in higher education.

What is a surprise is that Woessner is a full fledged conservative himself. He says he happily supported George W. Bush for president and thinks that Supreme Court Justices Scalia and Thomas are great. So he’s the last person who would have any incentive to try to prove that academia is (to borrow a phrase) fair and balanced. And he writes that his research confirms what he’s seen personally in his career – he never experienced any ill-effects of being a conservative in higher ed, but he writes that “I simply assumed that I was the exception. I now realize that my story is not unique.”

His full research is more broad than this – he also looks at how students perceive and respond to their professors’ political leanings, and whether students of different political views are more likely to choose certain courses of study over others. I highly recommend you read the full article to get his entire argument. It’s a thoughtful treatment of a very important and timely subject.

One thought on “Does Academia Hate Conservatives?

  1. Yes, when you caricature your opponent, winning is easy. (Sorry I forgot to put my white sheet on, but I’m a conservative from the South, so now you know how to categorize me properly.)

    What a scoop! People who have made a career in academia say they have liked their career… Conservative students didn’t say their professors burned crosses outside their dorm rooms… Case closed: No bias or discrimination in academia — despite the overwhelming factual numbers that show academia is far, far from representing the dynamics of the society it lives within…

    Forgive me, but it does become fairly irritating when intelligent people in academia so steadfastly refuse to admit the obvious.

    When you are a conservative student, and you find – semester after semester, course after course, in the humanities, there are almost no professors teaching you who share your general point of view — the only conclusion you can form is —- Your views are not welcome there. Period.

    Gee golly – professors are not monsters. They aren’t like KKK members.

    They are, however, human. And students aren’t stupid. Over time, they will understand – when 90%+ of their profs in a department(s) are Left-of-Center – that that institution favors liberal views and criticizes conservative ones. So, if you are conservative, you had best look for a home elsewhere —– or accept that you will continue an uphill climb – your liberal peers don’t face – your entire career.

    Why didn’t your researcher seek out – say – scholars in the humanities who gave up after a few years of trying to get a PhD??? That would have been fascinating.

    College should be challenging. It should challenge a student’s worldview. But, when you LACK DIVERSITY OF THOUGHT!!! in a department, conservatives will naturally find themselves tested more. Period. And the grind all dedicated graduate students face becomes —- much harder.

    I admire the black students in the South during the dying days of segregation. I could never have done what they did. How did they have the courage to face those angry picket lines and the real threat of bodily harm or even death?

    I couldn’t have done it. I’m weak. I couldn’t even make it through the exclusionary practices of The Left in academia…

    I guess since I still respect and even love two of my favorite profs from my undergrad days — the fact one of them told me nonchalantly he and the others in the college of humanities would “never hire a conservative” – and the other told me I had to go to grad school outside the (detested) South, because if I didn’t, “You’ll never be able to teach anywhere else” — didn’t really help subtly push me out the door – though it took several more years to admit defeat and abandon my dream…

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