The statistics on the shrinking percentage of professors who describe themselves as conservative or Republican should be alarming to anyone who truly values the most essential form of diversity: diversity of thought. A recent study published by Econ Journal Watch of 40 leading U.S. universities found that faculty who describe themselves as Democrats outnumber self-described Republican faculty by a ratio of nearly 12 to 1 (see below for more). A recent study by a chapter of the National Association of Scholars found that one way universities are increasingly able to “weed out” conservative professors is through the use of so-called “diversity statements.”
A report by the Oregon chapter of the National Association of Scholars published last month provides an in-depth look at the growing trend of universities requiring or strongly encouraging their faculty to sign diversity statements, which, the organization warns, often serve as a “de facto tool to weed out non-left wing scholars.”
The OAS report begins by stressing that public universities are mandated to be nonpartisan institutions that promote and protect “extensive freedoms for diversity of viewpoints,” committed, as the University of Chicago’s seminal 1967 Kalven Committee stated, to “sustain[ing] an extraordinary environment of freedom of inquiry and maintain[ing] its independence from political fashions, passions, and pressures.”
But that commitment to nonpartisan education has been whittled away over the last few decades by the institutionalization of “diversity” ideologies, which despite the euphemism, are often overtly hostile to conservative principles and worldviews. The shift has occurred in part through the widespread creation of academic entities centered on identity, particularly racial, ethnic, or gender identities. While these academic units could have been a truly positive development, most of them have unfortunately “evolved with explicit partisan agendas and very limited viewpoint pluralism.”
In the 1990s, the heavily ideological thrust of these “departments of difference” began to creep into the administration of universities as a whole with the creation of “diversity and inclusion” bureaucracies. This institutionalization of diversity ideologies then shifted to the hiring and promotion of faculty in the 2000s.
The latest trend in this systemic push for “diversity,” is the promotion of diversity statements, which at least 20 major universities or university systems have now mandated for the hiring and promotion of faculty. These statements, the Oregon Association of Scholars found, are usually steeped in progressive, partisan premises and rhetoric and “represent a clear and imminent threat to academic freedom and research excellence.”
OAS provides some examples of the heavily ideological and partisan nature of many of these statements and the “diversity”-minded hiring practices that have led to their enforcement (footnotes removed):
In an essay widely cited by university administrators as a model of good advice , a former anthropology professor at the University of Oregon wrote that her diversity statement would include discussions of “how to keep the white students from dominating all classroom discussions”, how not to “thoughtlessly reproduce the standard white and Western model of legitimate knowledge”, and how to “reflect a commitment to queer visibility.” A UC Davis workshop on diversity statements of 2012 advised how the statements can be used by hiring committees “to determine whether you are going to be the kind of colleague the department wants to have.” This partisan, litmus-test approach to diversity is also made plain by Dr. Tanya Golash-Boza, an associate professor of sociology at the University of California at Merced and during 2016-17 the ViceChair of the UC Systemwide Committee on Affirmative Action, Diversity, & Equity. In a June 10, 2016 article entitled “The Effective Diversity Statement” in Inside Higher Ed, Golash-Boza advises candidates to focus on “commonly accepted understandings of diversity and equity” such as “racial oppression, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism or some other commonly recognized form of oppression.” She suggests that candidates who do not agree with this approach should not bother to apply for jobs: “Note that if you do not care about diversity and equity and do not want to be in a department that does, don’t waste your time crafting a strong diversity statement — and you need not read any farther in this essay.”
The National Association of Scholars underscores that these diversity statements and hiring practices undermine commitments to nonpartisan, ideologically diverse education:
While in theory, the concepts of diversity, equity, and inclusion could be interpreted in ways consistent with different political viewpoints, in practice they have been consistently and exclusively defined by university officials to emphasize the values and assumptions of left-wing viewpoints in society. These can be summarized as an emphasis on group identity; an assumption of group victimization; and a claim for group-based entitlements. Classical liberal approaches, that emphasize the pluralism of a free society, the universalism of human experiences, and the importance of equality before the law, have been regarded as invalid. So too have conservative approaches that focus on shared values and the sacredness of the private realm and individual morality. More broadly, the idea of a university as a place where leading scholars are protected from any ideological imposition is also rejected.
“As such, diversity statements are a de facto tool to weed out non-left wing scholars,” OAS states. Even non-mandatory diversity statements, the organization notes, creates the same “chilling effect” of such ideological litmus tests.
Below is an excerpt of the abstract of the above-cited study published by Econ Journal Watch on the ratio of Democrats to Republicans in academia, which notes that trendlines show that the disparity will only grow over time:
We investigate the voter registration of faculty at 40 leading U.S. universities in the fields of Economics, History, Journalism/Communications, Law, and Psychology. We looked up 7,243 professors and found 3,623 to be registered Democratic and 314 Republican, for an overall D:R ratio of 11.5:1. The D:R ratios for the five fields were: Economics 4.5:1, History 33.5:1, Journalism/Communications 20.0:1, Law 8.6:1, and Psychology 17.4:1. The results indicate that D:R ratios have increased since 2004, and the age profile suggests that in the future they will be even higher.
Other studies have found similar results, as educational nonprofit organization PragerU points out.
Based on the best evidence, fewer than 10 percent of professors hold conservative social, political, moral, or economic views. A mere 12 percent of professors see themselves as Republicans. Among that small minority of Republicans, 51 percent are pro-choice, 63 percent support more environmental regulations, and 39 percent believe that the government should work to reduce the income gap between the rich and the poor.
PragerU has tackled the issue of academia’s conservative-excluding “diversity” agenda in a series of videos, including the ones below by Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk, Penn State’s Matthew Woessner, and the Manhattan Institute’s Heather Mac Donald:
H/T The College Fix