Monday, November 22, 2004

An Academia Balancing Act

It is no secret that the GOP is but a small minority amongst Academic Professors throughout the country. A recent article in the NY Times entitled Republicans Outnumbered in Academia, Studies Find, touches on this very topic.

It's been a delicate mix, but as the Conservative movement amongst students may be picking up a little steam, the growth of GOP professors are stagnant at best :
Conservatism is becoming more visible at the University of California here, where students put out a feisty magazine called The California Patriot and have made the Berkeley Republicans one of the largest groups on campus. But here, as at schools nationwide, the professors seem to be moving in the other direction, as evidenced by their campaign contributions and two studies being published on Nov. 18.
What have the studies found:

* Democratic professors outnumber Republicans by at least seven to one in the humanities and social sciences
* This ratio is more than twice as lopsided as it was three decades ago, and increasing.
* a nine-to-one ratio of Democrats to Republicans on the faculties of Berkeley and Stanford.
* the ratio is especially lopsided among the younger professors of assistant or associate rank:
183 Democrats versus 6 Republicans.

So now 'they' want a form of desegregation of their own.
The political imbalance on faculties has inspired a campaign to have state legislatures and Congress approve an "academic bill of rights" protecting students and faculty members from discrimination for their political beliefs. The campaign is being led by Students for Academic Freedom, a group with chapters at Berkeley and more than 135 other campuses. It was founded last year by the leftist-turned-conservative David Horowitz, who helped start the 1960's antiwar movement while a graduate student at Berkeley.
The article is a very informative read, so be sure to visit the link up above.

What was the LTE fallout from this perspective:

Here are a couple "Letters to the Editor
Re "Republicans Outnumbered in Academia, Studies Find" (news article, Nov. 18):

Would it be surprising to find mostly Republicans among oil company executives? Simply ask what the population in question is trained and paid to do.

Academics are trained to reason using logic, to question evidence and to consider and evaluate several possible interpretations of events. All these activities are discouraged and indeed ridiculed by the present Republican leadership.

Academic Republicans must indeed suffer from this cognitive dissonance.

Markus Meister
Pasadena, Calif., Nov. 18, 2004
The writer is a professor of biology at Harvard.


To the Editor:

The view that campus collegiality leads to tyranny of the majority has some plausibility in explaining the absence of Republicans from academia, but the main causes clearly lie elsewhere.

A successful career in academia, after all, requires willingness to be critical of yourself and to learn from experience, along with a lack of interest in material incentives. All these are antithetical to Republicanism as it has recently come to be.

John McCumber
Los Angeles, Nov. 18, 2004
The writer is a professor of Germanic languages at U.C.L.A.


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