Are college campuses really liberal-leaning? Are conservative students discriminated against or cowed into silence? Or does it depend on which institution students are attending, and in what area? This piece will take a look at the idea of a liberally-biased higher education.
The Conservative Minority
Obviously, the liberal majority may vary based on region. Texas universities are less like to advertise liberalism, whereas a New York institution might be more inclined to stress their liberalism. Yet, a college in Austin, the capital of Texas, is more likely to be liberally biased as opposed to a two-year college in conservative-dominated East Texas.
A private Christian university is less likely to be wholly liberal, perhaps as a result of liberalism being on the rise at state schools. The odd combinations of funding and state and local politics generally sway colleges one way or the other.
It seems that no matter where you are, it actually does come down to in-house politics. Professors and administration will dictate the feeling on campus. A recent Washington Times article found that unnamed college administrators would choose to discriminate against hiring conservatives. Other conservative professors feel that the anti-conservative agenda is openly proliferated on campuses. Even former Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum boldly claimed there was too much liberalism on campuses and that students generally lose touch with their faith because if it.
So how does this affect campus life for students? The attitude can be a bonus for minority or special interest groups like feminist groups and LGBTQ organizations. However, it does put increased pressure on conservative students to either hold their tongue against the vast majority or simply to convert. The real problem with this scenario is that it sets up a competition between the two schools of thought.
Ideally, college is meant to challenge one’s perceptions and perspective on life so that each individual makes choices based on how he or she sees the world. The lopsided pro-liberal campus environment forces students to feel that one set of beliefs is obviously correct, leaving them with no desire to think critically about those beliefs.
On the other hand, Republican students attending liberal-leaning colleges and university might feel discriminated against. Nobody likes to be made to feel that they are stupid or morally dubious because of what they believe, and political differences, particularly during election years, can lead to some pretty inflammatory snap judgments. Instead of engaging in calm and courteous discourse about their differences of opinion, all too often students with opposing views simply antagonize each other with facile arguments and pithy (but difficult to argue) slogans.
These heated interactions don’t lend themselves to an honest exploration of beliefs or a reevaluation of personal political leanings. Some feel that it would be better never to discuss politics in the classroom or on campus at all. Yet, this is college. It’s impossible to remove political bias from the classroom, campus, or administration. A college experience is where many students start to make solid decisions about their political and personal lives. The goal shouldn’t be to stifle political expression, but to make it more open and less malicious and antagonistic.
The Private University
Most of these issues have sprung up primarily in public, state colleges and universities. On the opposite side of the spectrum, the private college and university sit in their own bubbles. With higher expectations, demands and tuition, it is no wonder the private institution can be more selective in its of its administration and faculty.
Even here, in the private institutions, faculty and administration play a huge, and ultimately decisive, role in shaping the college experience for the student body. By their own admission, 72% of the professors and teachers at American institutions identified as liberal-leaning, with only 15% describing themselves as conservative.
It’s not yet clear whether a liberal bias to higher education institutions will have lasting effects on the student body. All students would be well-served by taking time to explore their own beliefs and values, aside from those of their college buddies or their favorite (and least favorite) professors.
This article was provided by Mike Gordon, recent college graduate and volunteer for local and statewide political and educational outreach programs. Mike suggests checking out www.cnacertification-training.com, for anyone interested in persuing an education in nursing assistant training.