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A new report has found liberal speakers outnumber conservative voices at the nation’s top universities’ graduation ceremonies by a wide margin, confirming to campus critics that students are bombarded with one-sided political points of view.
The Center for the Study of Popular Culture, which examined the political views of commencement speakers at the nation’s elite colleges and universities, found those with liberal ideas outnumbered conservative speakers 226-15 over a 10-year period.
“Commencement speakers at 32 top colleges and universities, including all Ivy League schools, were tracked over a 10-year period and were identified as belonging to one of five categories: Liberal, Democrat, Conservative, Republican and Non-Partisan,” the report said. “Overall, the ratio of commencement speakers on the left to those on the right is more than 15-to-1. Twenty-two of the 32 schools surveyed did not invite a single Republican or conservative to be commencement speaker over the course of a decade, yet invited a cumulative total of 173 liberals and Democrats during the same period.
“Six of the remaining schools surveyed invited only one Republican or conservative each compared to 38 liberals or Democrats between them,” the study said.
The CSPC report said some schools such as Haverford (Haverford, Pa.), Swarthmore (near Philadelphia), and UCLA, which invited multiple commencement speakers, still did not include a single conservative voice.
“This study underscores the lack of initiative on the part of administrators to bring conservative voices to the campuses,” said David Horowitz, CSPC president. “It is a great honor to be chosen as a commencement speaker, and such individuals are generally regarded as role models for the graduating class to emulate. For these reasons, the selection of commencement speakers is a good index of the preferences of the institutions themselves.”
“These results confirm the data from our study of faculty and administrator voting registrations, which showed an enormous disparity favoring registered Democrats over Republicans in the faculty hiring process,” he said.
The study pointed out despite national registration figures showing roughly equal numbers of Americans registered as Democrats and Republicans, not a single department among the 32 schools examined “came close to achieving parity between them.”
Critics have also claimed most college and university professors are liberal as well, but some academic groups defended the way college curriculum was being presented to students, saying equal presentation of viewpoints would be difficult.
“It would be impossible to do that, given how many opposing viewpoints there are,” Mary Burgan, general secretary for the American Association of University Professors, told the San Diego Union-Tribune. “It is the job of the faculty to decide which critical, relevant and commanding ones to concentrate on in the classroom.”
University of California-San Diego professor Linda Brodkey added that it was unnecessary to teach conservative and liberal views side by side, so long as students realize their own viewpoints are important.
“I tell students this is a free society,” she told the paper, “and that there is always free debate.”
UCSD Provost David Jordan, Brodkey’s supervisor, was more to the point.
“Why should I teach a point of view I don’t agree with? I should teach what is useful to the student. I don’t know that I have the responsibility to teach somebody’s view that is benighted or irrelevant,” he said, according to the Union-Tribune.
Syndicated columnist John Leo writes about the leftward tilt of campus profs:
“It’s not news that college professors are lopsidedly drawn from the political left,” writes syndicated columnist John Leo. “But American Enterprise magazine offers some numbers on how heavy the tilt has become. In eight academic departments surveyed at Cornell University, 166 professors were registered in the Democratic Party or another party of the left, with just six registered with Republicans or another party of the right.”
“Similar imbalance showed up in departments at the 19 other universities surveyed. At the University of Colorado-Boulder, the numbers were 116 to 5. It was 151-17 at Stanford, 54-3 at Brown, 99-6 at the University of California-San Diego, and 59-7 at Berkeley, the flagship of the University of California system,” Leo wrote in his Sept. 17, 2002, column. “At Williams College, a poll turned up only four registered Republicans among the more than 200 professors on campus.”
Some lawmakers have also noticed the trend.
“If my colleagues have ever looked at a list of commencement speakers, they have seen almost immediately that almost all come from a very liberal or left-wing background,” Rep. John Duncan, R-Tenn., said on the floor of the House during a March 6, 2002, speech.
“Conservative speakers are almost never invited to speak at commencement or graduation exercises,” he said. “I know there are always a few exceptions, but I would guess that liberals outnumber conservatives 50 or 100 to 1 as speakers at graduation ceremonies.”
Campus newspapers also have carried columns decrying liberal bias among faculty.
“Cornell’s faculty is overwhelmingly liberal. To paraphrase Bernard Goldberg, the liberal bias is so blatantly true that it’s hardly worth arguing about anymore,” Joe Sabia wrote for the Cornell Daily Sun college paper March 28.