Some universities have a distorted idea of academic freedom. At the University of South Carolina (USC), so-called Guidelines for Classroom Discussion have been established in one required course (for a degree in Women's Studies). The guidelines, which set the ground rules for classroom discussion in "Women's Studies 797: Seminar in Women's Studies," require students, as a condition of participating, to "acknowledge that racism, classism, sexism, heterosexism, and other institutionalized forms of oppression exist." Students must also agree "that people-both the people we study and the members of the class-always do the best they can."
Further, the guidelines provide that, "we are all systematically taught misinformation about our own group and about members of other groups," and "this is true for members of privileged and oppressed groups." Students have to "agree to combat actively the myths and stereotypes about our own groups and other groups." In this strange course, class participation counted for twenty percent of the student's grade, clearly requiring students to conform to the guideline's dictates, lest their grade suffer. Such draconian guidelines may soon be coming to a campus near you, for they have gained a measure of academic acceptance, having been published in the Women's Studies Quarterly and in Teaching Sociological Concepts and the Sociology of Gender, a publication of the American Sociological Association.
While thought control is doubtlessly not as severe in all college classes, there is little doubt that most universities are bastions of politically liberal thought. Author and activist David Horowitz's Center for the Study of Popular Culture, together with the American Enterprise Institute, conducted a survey of the political leanings of American university faculties. The findings were not surprising, but are nonetheless alarming. Over ninety percent of instructors in the arts and science departments at major universities such as Harvard, Cornell, Stanford, Penn State, Maryland, and Brown were either registered Democrats or in other left-leaning parties, including the Greens. Very few were Republicans or Libertarian. As Horowitz observed, "You can't get a good education if you only get half the story."
The survey also revealed that eighty percent of Ivy League professors voted for Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore in 2000, while only nine percent cast their ballots for Republican George W. Bush. The findings were even more dramatic on certain social issues. Seventy-nine percent of the professors said they considered President Bush's political views "too conservative." Despite these findings, Harvard spokesman Joe Wrinn had the audacity to assert that "Harvard University represents a full spectrum of thought, which is the basic purpose and goal of a university."
This ideological imbalance extends beyond the classroom and into the entire educational experience. Even speakers invited to give commencement addresses at major universities are overwhelmingly liberal. Young America's Foundation (YAF) released a study showing that the great majority of commencement speakers in 2002 for the nations' top fifty universities (using the U.S. News & World Report list) were liberals. According to the survey, conservative commencement speakers are also greatly underrepresented at schools that are not part of the top fifty.
Conservatives are not merely crowded out of graduation ceremonies. Faculty often bar them from other speaking events on campus. That's exactly what happened to author Dan Flynn at Michigan State University (MSU). The university's College Republicans had invited Flynn to speak about his book, Why the Left Hates America. The MSU College Republicans were given approval for Flynn to speak on "patriotism" and "why America is great." But when a school bureaucrat noticed the title of the book in a flyer advertising the event, she determined it was "too hostile" and that the Republican group had misrepresented the topic of the speech. In a chilling attack on freedom of expression, she pulled the plug on the speech and threatened to call the police if Flynn went ahead with his talk. Nonetheless, Flynn did speak, and no law enforcement officers showed up to drag him away to the MSU re-education camps. One official unwittingly admitted the university's censorship when he said, "First Amendment rights are not the same thing as being polite or not being impolite. There is no absolute right in the First Amendment to say anything you want anywhere you want." But who said anything about absolute rights here? How about just giving the conservative viewpoint an airing, let alone equal time?
When conservatives are permitted to speak on campus, they are often treated with scorn and contempt. When racial equality activist Ward Connerly spoke at a conference at Columbia University, along with columnist John Leo and author Dinesh D'Souza, officials resisted, by demanding thousands of dollars in extra security money for the event. Because these three speakers are known conservatives, newspapers billed the upcoming conference as racist, sexist, and a threat to civil rights, which contributed to the hateful mobs greeting the participants, who were insulted, physically threatened, and spat upon. Adding insult to injury, Columbia refused to discipline the protestors, but instead issued a memo criticizing Connerly, expressing its commitment to affirmative action-though that subject had nothing to do with the conference-and banning the conference from campus. A strikingly similar incident occurred at Penn State, where militarily clad protestors interrupted conservative Star Parker's address by marching to the front of the room, blowing whistles, and conducting a ten-minute skit. University police sat by as Parker was subjected to these indignities. As if that weren't enough, a director of a cultural center on campus called Parker an "ideological whore" in the pages of the campus newspaper.
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