Colleges and universities are obsessed with racial diversity. But a new analysis provides even more proof that our higher education system has a different and arguably more important diversity problem: a woeful dearth of intellectual diversity.
Do colleges have a liberal bias?
The College Fix analyzed a sample of 65 academic departments across seven universities and found that more than half of the departments had zero Republican professors. All told, 92% of the professors at these departments identified as Democrats, meaning there was an 11-1 ratio of Democratic to Republican professors.
This analysis can’t necessarily stand in for all colleges, but it’s quite similar to the figures other analyses have come up with. The general takeaway is clear: Higher education is overwhelmingly dominated by ideological liberals, with a real shortage of differing perspectives on most campuses.
“These results should be another wake-up call that higher education is severely biased and broken,” concluded College Fix editor-in-chief Jennifer Kabbany. “Higher education is one of the most important battlegrounds for the heart, soul and mind of this nation.”
— The College Fix (@CollegeFix) November 30, 2022
I’ve Witnessed This Firsthand
This doesn’t come as a surprise to me because it’s exactly what I witnessed at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, during my own college experience.
The campus culture and university administrators alike fixated on racial diversity, even though the student body was already significantly more diverse than the state’s general population. But the fact that almost all of the professors were outright socialists, hardcore progressives, or at least liberal Democrats was ignored or even celebrated.
The lack of outspoken right-leaning professors contributed to a chilling atmosphere for students on campus. I would regularly have students approach me after class and thank me for being the only one to speak up and offer a certain right-of-center perspective against a chorus of left-wing voices — and tell me they were too scared of backlash to speak up. How is real learning supposed to happen in such an environment?
The incongruity in this kind of campus atmosphere is glaring.
Colleges argue, not without merit, that having people from diverse racial backgrounds on campus is essential to a productive learning experience because a monolithic campus population will lack the kind of diverse experiences and perspectives that enrich intellectual debates and learning. They insist that this is such an essential need for a university that they should be able to do what would otherwise be illegal and discriminate on the basis of race in their admissions process to engineer greater diversity. And, while I disagree with their means, they’re not wrong about the perils of a monolithic campus population.
Why We Need Intellectual Diversity
But where’s that energy when it comes to people’s actual ideas?
Not only does this same logic apply to ideology. It’s actually even more crucial in the intellectual realm. After all, a black person and a white person could have very similar experiences and opinions. A room full of people that look different but think alike still isn’t a very diverse room in any meaningful sense. But a Democrat and a Republican are certainly going to bring different things to the table.
Until campuses get serious about ideological diversity — the most important diversity of all — they will keep failing to prepare students for the real world, which isn’t a progressive echo chamber. Oh, and “intellectual” life on campus will be a lot more boring.