A fascinating study published in October by Econ Journal Watch found that the University of Connecticut faculty harbors a significant liberal lean, with 13 Democrats per Republican. Such a discovery lends itself to questions of professorial ideological diversity (or lack thereof) and groupthink.
The study, which looked at records of voter registration, found that tenure-track faculty (excluding visiting and adjunct faculty) at UConn from the economics, psychology, law and communications departments, predominantly featured registered Democrats, according to a Daily Campus article .
Out of the 40 schools scrutinized, UConn’s ratio of 13 Democrats to one Republican measured as the 21st most liberal. The average was 11.5:1. UConn was behind such renowned schools as Brown (60:1), Princeton (30:1) and Yale (16:1).
Part of these numbers could have something to do with the fact that Connecticut is located in the liberal northeast. Perhaps Connecticut’s Democratic primary system, which only allows registered party members to vote, increases the amount of registered Democrats in general. It could also be that out of the pool of professors UConn has to hire from, the majority are liberal.
Whatever the answer, such studies are necessary in order to address the ideal of intellectual diversity in a university setting. There is a major problem in this country of creating a comfortable environment of conservative and liberal ideology in people’s personal lives, whether it’s through whom they associate with, which accounts they follow on Twitter or where they get their news from.
The only time where partisan politics could truly play a role in the classroom would be through omission of facts or direct misinformation. As long as professors are telling the truth and willing to foster discussion and debate on topics, it shouldn’t matter which political party they belong to. Most importantly, it is up to the student to interpret what they see as wrong or right, robust or ridiculous. Even if a professor were to go on a diatribe in support of or against a political candidate, the pupil is not required to conform to the teacher’s opinion.
This all means that, while the idea of indoctrination is far-fetched, it would be prudent for institutions of higher education to seek contrasting philosophies in their hiring practices. This is not a recommendation to bring in more Republicans, or less Democrats, it is only to ensure that UConn doesn’t trap itself inside an academic box, which would help no one.