This week, millions of young adults will descend upon their respectively-chosen university campuses for the first time. What they’ll learn within the first week alone is what students like myself have known for a while: Universities are overwhelmingly leftist. According to a 2016 study by Econ Journal Watch, universities employ 11.5 Democrats for every Republican. Democrats outnumber Republicans at the University of Connecticut, for example, by a ratio of 13:1, with the psychology (43:1) and history (26:1) departments painting an even bluer picture of the “diversity” boasted within the school’s mission statement. While professors tend to embrace their party affiliations, they adamantly maintain their political biases are irrelevant given that they’re keen to represent both sides of the political debate equally. This is blatantly untrue.
This fall semester, I’m slated to earn fifteen credits toward my degree. For these courses, I had to purchase nineteen books. Among them are such great works as “Perfectly Legal: The Covert Campaign to Rig Our Tax System to Benefit the Super Rich—and Cheat Everybody Else,” “Capitalism: The Future of an Illusion” and “The Trouble with Capitalism.” And my personal favorite, of course: “The Communist Manifesto.” Not one of the nineteen offers an opposing economic perspective.
If professors were truly devoted to fostering a fair and honest discussion, students would be supplementing their requisite study of Marxism with arguments for laisse-faire capitalism and supply-side economics. In addition to reading the work of Karl Marx, Freidrich Engels and John Maynard Keynes, students would be exposed to Adam Smith, Milton Freidman and Thomas Sowell. Instead, these opposing thinkers and their ideologies are often omitted from classroom discussion—or alternatively maligned. Capitalism, for example, is disparaged as an exploitative system of greed responsible for oppressing minorities and perpetuating income inequality. Rather than foster a critical discussion regarding the merits of a particular policy on the basis of evidence, the intelligentsia see fit to malign opposing belief systems and smear opponents with complaints of “tax cuts for the rich” and the nefarious “one percent”—the implication, of course, being that capitalism is repressive and proponents don’t care about poor people.
The omission of conservative arguments from classroom discussion is damaging enough, but the character attacks have created a hostile environment unconducive to productive discourse. A survey conducted by the Yale Daily News in 2016 found that approximately 75 percent of students “believe Yale does not provide a welcoming environment for conservative students to share their opinions on political issues” with nearly 95 percent of self-identified conservatives and two-thirds of self-identified liberals concurring. This hostility manifests in violence. UC Berkley required $600,000 worth of security to stave off violent protesters during a Ben Shapiro speech in 2017. When Professor Bret Weinstein of Evergreen State College dissented after “progressive” minority students ordered white students and faculty to vacate campus for a day, he was directly threatened with bodily harm and forced to resign when campus security could no longer guarantee his safety.
This type of aversion to critical thought and reasoned discussion, supplemented by faithless attacks against opposing beliefs and threats of violence aimed at dissidents, has significant consequences. Many students are misled, demeaned or intimidated into adopting the accepted wisdom as their own under fraudulent pretenses. Classmates are bred to distrust one another, with many refusing to befriend or consort with those with whom they disagree—perpetually conditioned to assume the worst in their ideological opposites. Campus conservatives frequently resent their professors and classmates as they’re repeatedly maligned and accused of complicity in “evil” policy; graduates enter the world lacking logical reasoning and critical thinking skills, with shaky political convictions and a bone to pick with their future colleagues from across the aisle. The only solution: Simply be aware of the overwhelming ideological bias of the professoriate and their often dishonest means of fostering what passes for political discussion on campus, and be prepared to question, challenge and debate everything they throw our way—and deliberately seek out that which they don’t.
Kevin Catapano is a weekly columnist for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.