Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Campus Indoctrination: It's Not Working

As the recent Columbia incident shows, the left of center orthodoxy prevalent in much of academia has had a chilling effect on free expression. What it has not done, as Arthur C. Brooks argues, is turn conservative students into liberals or leftists:

Most studies of the subject have indicated that, indeed, upward of 90% of college professors at many universities hold liberal political views. In some schools and departments, faculties are virtually 100% left-wing. It is one thing to lament this ideological lopsidedness in the academy. But it is quite another to assume that professors actually bend the little minds in their care toward a liberal point of view, or even a radical one. Imagine a student with God-fearing Republican parents exposed to the depredations of an English professor aiming to use his class as a Bolshevik training camp. Will the professor succeed in turning the kid into a Red? The evidence says, probably not: When it comes to politics, people from conservative families follow their parents, not their professors.

The most recent evidence on this subject comes from the mid-1990s, in the University of Michigan's National Election Studies. These survey data uncover two facts. First, people who go to college are more likely to vote Republican than those who don't go to college. Adults 25 and under from Republican homes are, for example, 11 percentage points more likely to vote Republican if they attended college than if they didn't. And young adults from Democratic households are 11 percentage points less likely to vote Democrat if they've gone to college than if not.

The data cited by Brooks is important in two ways. For one thing, it disproves the ridiculous notion propagated by some that liberals are smarter and better educated than those Bible-thumping, knuckle-dragging conservatives. Ironically, it also reflects the dominance of the campus left. Considering how infrequently liberal and leftist views are permitted to be challenged on campus, many of those who espouse them simply don't know how to make logical arguments designed to persuade non-believers. Instead, as at Columbia, they resort to juvenile sloganeering and attempting to suppress views they disagree with. This is not a recipe for persuading conservative students to change their beliefs.


Blogger Stephen Denney said...

I think it is a little bit unfair to assume the disruptive activities of the Columbia University protestors is a fair representation of liberals. Actually their behavior was anti-liberal. The professors who are most inclined to push their ideology on the students are usually ones with hardline ideologies, and I have encountered professors like that on both ends of the political spectrum.

1:47 AM  

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