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Academia, Stuck To the Left

By George F. Will
Sunday, November 28, 2004; Page B07

Republicans Outnumbered

In Academia, Studies Find

-- The New York Times, Nov. 18

_____More Will_____
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Oh, well, if studies say so. The great secret is out: Liberals dominate campuses. Coming soon: "Moon Implicated in Tides, Studies Find."

One study of 1,000 professors finds that Democrats outnumber Republicans at least seven to one in the humanities and social sciences. That imbalance, more than double what it was three decades ago, is intensifying because younger professors are more uniformly liberal than the older cohort that is retiring.

Another study, of voter registration records, including those of professors in engineering and the hard sciences, found nine Democrats for every Republican at Berkeley and Stanford. Among younger professors, there were 183 Democrats, six Republicans.

But we essentially knew this even before the American Enterprise magazine reported in 2002 on examinations of voting records in various college communities. Some findings about professors registered with the two major parties or with liberal or conservative minor parties:

Cornell: 166 liberals, 6 conservatives.

Stanford: 151 liberals, 17 conservatives.

Colorado: 116 liberals, 5 conservatives.

UCLA: 141 liberals, 9 conservatives.

The nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics reports that in 2004, of the top five institutions in terms of employee per capita contributions to presidential candidates, the third, fourth and fifth were Time Warner, Goldman Sachs and Microsoft. The top two were the University of California system and Harvard, both of which gave about 19 times more money to John Kerry than to George W. Bush.

But George Lakoff, a linguistics professor at Berkeley, denies that academic institutions are biased against conservatives. The disparity in hiring, he explains, occurs because conservatives are not as interested as liberals in academic careers. Why does he think liberals are like that? "Unlike conservatives, they believe in working for the public good and social justice." That clears that up.

A filtering process, from graduate school admissions through tenure decisions, tends to exclude conservatives from what Mark Bauerlein calls academia's "sheltered habitat." In a dazzling essay in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Bauerlein, professor of English at Emory University and director of research and analysis at the National Endowment for the Arts, notes that the "first protocol" of academic society is the "common assumption" -- that, at professional gatherings, all the strangers in the room are liberals.


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