This is the headline of a column that ran on the front page of Student Life, the student newspaper at Washington University in St. Louis, earlier this year.
While writer Sean Lundergan’s classmates’ description of the article ranged from “disgustingly backwards” to “traumatizing,” the running and preservation of this story are indicative of a problem that plagues college campuses across the U.S.: Conservatives do not feel welcome on college campuses. In my years attending university, I have heard one mantra repeated countless times. “Hate is never okay.” But many schools don’t practice what they preach.
This is yet another university-published article, this time in 2014 by the departmental chairwoman of communications at the University of Michigan. This blatant intolerance might explain why a OneClass survey earlier this year found that conservative students are more than twice as likely as liberals to transfer schools because of political discrimination.
Why would I, in my right mind, want to attend a university where my own departmental chairperson has said publicly, and in writing, that she hates me? I have heard mantras of the “tolerant left” repeated time and time again, especially in recent years – “Spread love, not hate. Accept everyone.” Yet universities are furtively helping perpetuate hatred with a single, hypocritical narrative: college campuses are safe spaces, where it is never acceptable to discriminate or spread hatred (unless it is against conservatives, in which case it is not only allowable but encouraged).
At the University of Portland, conservative enrollment decreased from an already low 15% in 2015 to just 11% last year, garnering headlines like these, referring to University of Portland faculty:
“They don’t let me finish my sentences.”
A survey conducted earlier this year found that 73% of Republican students hide their political views for fear their grades will suffer, which could be due in part to the disparity between left- and right-leaning professors on campus.
A study by the National Association of Scholars found that liberal professors outnumber conservatives in every field. In private schools, the study found 108 liberal professors for each conservative teaching interdisciplinary studies. Not a single Republican is employed at 20 of the top 50 liberal arts colleges in the U.S.
Another study found that faculty at public universities like the UofA still exhibit a disparity of 12 to 1.
I have attended three universities in the past four years, spanning two states and two countries. At each school, everywhere I turn, all I hear is the message of diversity.
I’ve heard over and over again that universities should be the most diverse places in the country, a beautiful and intellectually uplifting mix of people and ideas from all over the world. But isn’t it hypocritical to aggressively preach diversity while publishing hate-laden articles against conservatives and employing educators that generally share the same political identity?
The discrepancy between liberal and conservative professors can be justified – after all, it is not necessarily the responsibility of a university to vet the political backgrounds of their hirees. So, here is the problem: professors are scaring their conservative students into silence. I have heard the president criticized baselessly in the classroom on several occasions, and have been called racist, sexist and bigoted, right here on campus, simply for mentioning that I support Trump over the candidates of other parties. I do not even identify as Republican, and I never have before.
Minority groups have historically felt unwelcome on and off campus, and granted, many places exist off campus where the roles are switched. But the existence of one problem does not justify the existence of another. If political name-calling can be left out of the classroom, there is potential for the discrepancy to be justified. But as long as 73% of Republican students hide their political identities to protect their grades, as long as nearly half feel unsafe in class, as long as more than half feel unwelcome on campus and as long as headlines preaching hate continue to run in university-backed publications, the discrepancy is anything but justified.