Friday, December 03, 2004


Now Why Wasn't I Surprised by This?

Just as a note, I am a former college instructor (left on good standing, btw. My reasons for leaving had to do with a family health crisis, not politics). Somehow the following article, though, doesn't surprise me.

Washington, DC (November 30, 2004) -- 49% of the students at the top 50 colleges and universities say professors frequently inject political comments into their courses, even if they have nothing to do with the subject. Almost one-third—29%—feel they have to agree with the professor’s political views to get a good grade.

A survey commissioned by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni reveals the politicization of the classroom and the intellectual intolerance of faculty.

According to the survey:

* 48% report campus presentations on political issues that “seem totally one-sided.”

* 46% say professors “use the classroom to present their personal political views.”

* 42% of students fault reading assignments for presenting only one side of a controversial issue.

The survey also indicates that political comments are consistently partisan. The survey, which was conducted just before and after the American presidential election, found that 68% of the students reported negative remarks in class about Pres. George Bush while 62% said professors praised Sen. John Kerry.

“Students pay hefty tuition to get an education, not to hear some professors’ pet political views,” said Anne Neal, president of ACTA. “When politics is relevant, multiple perspectives should be presented. The classroom should be a place where students are free to explore different points of view. They should not feel they will be penalized if they think for themselves.”

The ACTA survey was conducted in late October and early November by the Center for Survey Research & Analysis at the University of Connecticut at the 50 colleges and universities top-ranked by U.S. News & World Report. List attached.

The survey shows that college and university faculty are biased: 74% of students said professors made positive remarks about liberals while 47% reported negative comments about conservatives. A substantial majority—83 %—said that student evaluations administered by the college did not ask about a professor’s political biases.

The survey comes in the wake of a number of studies that have shown that party registrations of college professors are overwhelmingly one-sided. Last week, the Princeton, NJ-based National Association of Scholars released a study showing that the ratio of Democrats to Republicans at some top-50 schools is as high as 9 to 1.

American Association of University Professors president Roger W. Bowen called the NAS study “wrongheaded” and stated that political affiliations of professors are of little consequence in the classroom.

“The ACTA survey clearly shows that faculty are injecting politics into the classroom in ways that students believe infringe upon their freedom to learn,” said Neal.

ACTA opposes legislative intervention and is preparing guidelines for trustees and administrators on how best to ensure intellectual diversity and tolerance on our college and university campuses.

“The lack of intellectual diversity on our college campuses is clearly a problem,” said Neal. “We believe boards of trustees have the responsibility to ensure that students are exposed to a free and open exchange of ideas and are encouraged to think for themselves.”

The ACTA survey has an error rate of plus or minus four. The majority of students surveyed majored in subjects like biology, engineering and psychology—subjects that have nothing to do with politics. Referenced survey questions are available upon request.

ACTA is a nonprofit educational organization based in Washington, DC, and dedicated to academic freedom, academic quality, and accountability. It is located at 1726 M Street, N.W., Suite 802, Washington, DC 20036. For further information, contact ACTA at 202-467-6787 or at

# # #

Top 50 Schools Surveyed

A total of 658 randomly selected students from the top 25 National Universities and top 25 National Liberal Arts Colleges, as defined by U.S. News & World Report, were interviewed for this survey. Because of ties in the rankings, a total of 26 National Universities were included in the sample.

National Universities

1. Harvard University

Princeton University

3. Yale University

4. University of Pennsylvania

Duke University

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Stanford University

8. California Institute of Technology

9. Columbia University

Dartmouth College

11. Northwestern University

Washington University in St. Louis

13. Brown University

14. Cornell University

Johns Hopkins University

University of Chicago

17. Rice University

18. University of Notre Dame

Vanderbilt University

20. Emory University

21. University of California-Berkeley

22. Carnegie Mellon University

University of Michigan-Ann Arbor

University of Virginia

25. Georgetown University (DC)

University of California-Los Angeles

National Liberal Arts Colleges

1. Williams College

2. Amherst College

Swarthmore College

4. Wellesley College

5. Carleton College

Pomona College

7. Bowdoin College

Davidson College

9. Haverford College

Wesleyan University

11. Middlebury College

12. Vassar College

13. Claremont McKenna College

Smith College

Washington and Lee University

16. Colgate University

Grinnell College

Harvey Mudd College

19. Colby College

Hamilton College

21. Bryn Mawr College

22. Bates College

23. Oberlin College

24. Mount Holyoke College

Trinity College

Not surprised at all. And it goes lower. My daughter at Vanderbilt (one of the schools surveyed) said she didn't hear too much "off topic" politics in the classroom, but my daughter in high school certainly did, and one would think that the HSer is more impressionable, and more intimidated.
Sure is refreshing to see a former college instructor who isn't either a liberal egghead or a hate-mongering anti-Israeli.
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