Many students at top schools, like the University say that not only are they exposed to liberal viewpoints during lectures, but also that they must agree with their professors’ political views to succeed in classes, according to a new study.
Forty-six percent of students at the top 50 universities and liberal arts colleges say professors use the classroom to present their political views, and 62 percent reported that professors praised John Kerry during the presidential campaign, according to a survey released Nov. 30 by the Washington-based American Council of Trustees and Alumni. The University is ranked 22nd on this list.
In the study released last month by the nonprofit organization, nearly one-third of randomly-selected respondents also said they felt they had to agree with the professor’s political views to get a good grade in the course, and about 42 percent said reading assignments consistently provide only one side of a controversial issue.
Such bias deprives students of a fair and objective education, said Carl Cohen, a philosophy professor who was a vocal opponent of the University’s race-conscious admissions policies.
“It is not a good thing for any university if its faculty is largely populated by persons of any single political persuasion,” he said in an e-mail.
But many faculty use their wallets in addition to their lectures to support liberal views, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a Washington-based think tank. The center reports that members of the University community ranked 20th on a list of the largest financial contributors nationwide to Kerry. The University of California and Harvard University were the top two contributors to Kerry.
In a similar list of the top 20 Bush contributors, no universities were present amidst the many large corporations.
Monika Chaudhry, an LSA freshman from Ohio, describes herself as very conservative. Even though she is taking English literature classes, she said most of her professors have liberal political views.
“I came to Michigan knowing that it was a very liberal school, so I was prepared to not take offense,” said Chaudhry.
But she said what tipped her off to the liberal bias was when her professors, who had been vocal about the presidential election all year, suddenly lost their voice when President Bush won last month’s election.
“This silence,” she said, “revealed a lot about their political views.”
John Campbell, a professor of political science with avowedly liberal views, said the liberal tilt in the social science faculty is only natural.
Those people attracted to teaching are usually those who are interested in current events, he said. And those who keep up with current events by reading the newspaper and watching the news are more likely than not going to be left-leaning, he added. “The liberal position just makes more sense.”