Republicans running for president might as well skip any fundraisers at Ivy League universities like Harvard, where a new analysis shows 96 percent of faculty donations over the last three years went to Democrats.
Academia in general, and the elite northeastern schools in particular, have long been seen as a bastion for left-wing professors. Nationally, about two-thirds of college professors say they are liberal and less than a tenth identify themselves as conservative, according to one study. The imbalance at Harvard, uncovered by the student newspaper Harvard Crimson surprised even Harvard administrators.
“I am amazed at how high that number is,” Harvard Dean Michael D. Smith told the Crimson.
In the presidential race in 2012, every one of the eight universities in the Ivy League saw more than 90 percent of faculty donations go to Obama. Some say that shows a troubling lack of ideological diversity on campuses and could lead to students getting biased educations.
“It is a shame that our greatest universities have become ideologically monolithic,” Georgetown law professor Nicholas Quinn Rosenkranz told FoxNews.com. “At many of these schools, including Georgetown Law School, most students will graduate without ever laying eyes on a single Republican professor.”
One Harvard faculty member, who does not share his colleague’s politics, declined to even discuss the ideological dynamic on campus.
“Sorry, but the smart thing for me to do about this kind of issue is not to comment!” he said.
Some professors say the disparity is nothing new and shouldn’t be a big concern.
“While this may narrow the range of political debate on campus, it doesn’t mean that students at these schools aren’t getting a first-rate education,” said Neil Gross, visiting professor of sociology at Princeton and author of “Why Are Professors Liberal and Why Do Conservatives Care?” “American higher education needs reforming, but political imbalance is the least of its problems.”
Non- Ivy League colleges appear to be somewhat less liberal. A survey done by UCLA researchers found that 65.7 percent of public university faculty identified as liberals compared to 9.5 percent who call themselves conservatives – a ratio of 7-to-1. Private colleges as a whole were just as liberal, but private Catholic colleges were a bit less so, with a liberal-to-conservative ratio of 4-to-1.
Surveys have also found differences between fields. Sociology has about 16 Democrats for each Republican, history has 6-to-1, and economics just 2.5-to-1.
Gross has done studies on the issue and found that ideology is self-reinforcing.
“College teaching got a reputation as a liberal occupation early in the twentieth century for historical reasons, and that pulled even more liberals in, in a self-reinforcing process. Today relatively few conservative students aspire to become professors.”
Free speech advocates say that the result is campuses that often stifle free speech.
“If someone gets in trouble on campus it is far more likely to be because of socially conservative views, and I have no doubt that is partly because of group think on campus,” Greg Lukianoff, a self-described liberal and president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) told FoxNews.com.
He cited the example of an ongoing case at Marquette University, where a teaching assistant forbade a conservative student from opposing gay marriage in an ethics class discussion, saying that doing so could be offensive to gay students. After John McAdams, a conservative professor, took issue with that on his blog and wrote that the student should be allowed to speak, the university suspended him and began trying to fire him. Lukianoff said they are still attempting to do so.
Rosenkranz says he would like to see more ideological diversity on campus.
“Ideally these universities would expose students to the most powerful arguments on both sides of the great issues, rather than indoctrinating them with the ideology of the far left,” he said.