I will not be surprised if by the year 2030, all major universities will have their official political views advertised in their brochures. They will announce if they are a left-wing school or a right-wing school to remove any confusion for students. Professors of all disciplines will apply to universities according to their personal beliefs. This will help to reduce the number of potential conflicts (interruptions, debates, fights, etc.) on campus, and will lead to a great decline in violence and hate speech. Of course, newspapers will still acknowledge the opposing team’s ideologies, but only in a playful way. There will be no reason to actually attack one another. Why attack when you can just jab then pull back and play the victim? Right-wing and left-wing universities will co-exist in a pseudo-war. There will be no need for any crossover debates, as they would only infuriate both sides and distract students from their exams.
Unfortunately, this is not a joke. Today at any major North American university there is a bias controlling the academic integrity of entire institutions. Students who complete their Bachelor's degree graduate unknowingly with indoctrinated views acquired through their curriculum. They leave university with political views that they are sure they thought of themselves, and strangely enough, they happen to align perfectly with those of their professors. We, as students, put our trust into professors to teach as objectively as they can. However, the objective of our education has been entirely shifted.
Now, if you read any sort of metropolitan newspaper, watch Canadian news or even read Facebook articles, you will find that the vast majority of popular media leans heavily to the left. This should not be a secret to anyone. Why do you think every news platform (except for Fox News) slandered and ridiculed Trump to their absolute fullest capabilities? Why do you think these same news channels would only criticize Clinton when she did something blatantly criminal? And even often then, they would not.
This was not to show their openness of political thought. This was to push a left-wing agenda, the same way Fox News pushes their right-wing agenda. In North America, the majority of popular media outlets are funded by liberal companies and organizations (often the democratic party itself). A study in 2008 by the Center for Responsive Politics found that of the donations given by ABC, NBC, and CBS, 88 percent went to the Democratic Party while the Republican Party received twelve percent. Another easy proof of liberal bias in the media would be to look at the Twitter feed of any Hollywood actor or executive before the 2016 election. Try finding one open Trump supporter.
I understand why the media leans: they profit off propaganda. But I’m not aware of the reasons why universities and their professors have these same incentives. What is the incentive for having an overwhelmingly left-wing academic faculty? Matthew Woessner, an associate professor in political science and public policy at Penn State, found that the ratio of democratic to republican professors in America was six to one. Furthermore, if you focus on the arts faculty specifically, the ratio appears to be closer to nine to one.
“Well, so what?” you might say, “That’s not going to affect my university curriculum.” I’ll give two examples, one that demonstrates the problems this poses for the arts students and another for science students.
For the arts, the problem is fairly self-evident. Arts professors are allowed, to a certain degree, to choose their own material. If the majority of professors are liberal, then the curriculum will inevitably lean towards their own preferences. In theory, a council within the academic department would stop professors from overly radicalizing their programs. However, what happens when the council itself is of a left-wing majority? Will anyone notice that the curriculum is being affected?
Here is a personal example from StFX. A friend of mine enrolled in a general English 101 class. We went to the bookstore together and I was shocked to find that her reading material for the class contained no universally recognized classics and only one semi-recognizable male author (Gerald Graff). One book was a mystery novel by Agatha Christie, another was a novel on feminism by Margaret Atwood, and the last a novel by Michael Cobb, a known liberal activist from the University of Toronto.
I have no issue with feminist novels or female authors (Angela Carter is one of my favourite authors), but is this an academically honest depiction of the best works that English literature has to offer? The professor either has a highly selective knowledge of the history of literature, or they have an agenda that they can push by tweaking the curriculum. Modern feminism is generally seen as having liberal roots and is often used as a liberal platform (see the majority of Justin Trudeau’s speeches). But if you think feminism in this case has no political connotations at all, just ask yourself this: would you teach a history of music class without studying Beethoven or John Lennon?
With such a minority of conservative voices to balance the curriculum, the arts will slowly lean further and further left until the core values of the program will mean nothing. The arts will essentially be an extension of liberalism. In ten years we may see Twilight being taught as one of the greatest pieces of literature of all time.
In the sciences the problem is subtler. Although the course material may seem apolitical, the jobs they provide are not. Geology majors can lead to jobs at oil and gas corporations, biochemistry majors can lead to jobs at bio-technology companies, and fishermen become fishermen. The majority of science students will work for companies with real world contributions, not just theoretical work. A liberal professor may easily lean their entire class by providing a biased set of morals and ethics.
For example, a biology professor may deem the testing of mammals to be immoral. Does that hinder the progress of science? The same goes for stem cell research. It is a highly politicized topic. Right now it is illegal in Canada to create embryos solely for the purpose of stem cell research. Will the legalization of stem cell research on purposed fetuses increase the rate of unwanted abortions? Or forced abortions like in China and Russia?
Biases of lecturers have profound effects on students, often very subtle ones. A student will often subconsciously agree with their teacher’s sarcastic comments or satirical rants on current issues. This is because we trust the authority of their knowledge. If the majority of science professors are liberal then the future of scientific progression will be liberal as well. In Canada, we have the Research Ethics Board to govern our experiments. Out of all the board members, nearly all of them have graduated from a major Canadian or American university. Just this simple fact alone statistically entails liberal bias of some kind.
The question is not if universities lean heavily leftward, as that is already evident. Just go talk to any “higher-up” faculty at your university. The question is what now? Should universities be taking any action to diversify their faculties? Should students be told which way their professors lean before every semester? Should students be given a scale showing where their professor falls on a political spectrum? Universities should acknowledge that they are institutionally biased and accept that the majority of its professors are liberal. That or they can omit that information and deny that it will have any effect on your education, which is the same as lying. Universities should change by diversifying themselves intellectually, by hiring more conservative professors who openly defy liberalism and show this through their curriculum. It may be seen as a reverse-bias to consciously hire more conservative professors, but that is the only way to balance a school.
Right now most universities are choosing the second option, the supposed “open arms to all ideas” option, but they do not show it with their faculty choices. And how can a student body have a strong intellectual diversity if their faculty does not? My only hope is that in ten years, universities will at least choose to be honest. Then we can have five openly liberal universities for every one conservative one.