College: The Liberal Bubble


Courtesy of Christina Dobbek

Christina Dobbek, Opinions Editor

Throughout history, going to university has been the chance for students to read the philosophies and opinions of a diverse range of scholars and form their own opinions as they derive knowledge from those sources.

More and more often nowadays, however, it seems that college students are being taught what to think, not how to think.

As a senior, I have come to the end of the college selection process. Throughout the whole experience, I found myself asking Will I be able to freely express my beliefs at this school without backlash?

According to The Washington Times, a study was conducted of “full-time Ph.D.-holding professors in top-tier liberal arts colleges” and revealed a severe imbalance on the ideological scale. Thirty nine percent of the colleges participating in the study are “Republican-free.”

The study was conducted by Mitchell Langbert and published by the National Association of Scholars. The study also reveals that, if two military colleges are removed from the sample, the Democrat to Republican ratio is 12.7 to 1. Langbert says, “78.2 percent of the academic departments in my sample have either zero Republicans, or so few as to make no difference.”

In STEM fields, the ideological balance is more equal, but the social sciences and humanities is where ideological homogeneity prospers.

In engineering, for example, there is Democrat to Republican ratio of 1.6 to 1, while communications has a shocking ratio of 108 to 0.

According to Langbert, The Politics of Social Psychology suggests that psychologists are far more likely to study the character and evolution of individuals on the Right than individuals on the Left [because of the left-wing bias].” Langbert continues, “Even though more Americans are conservative than liberal, academic psychologists’ biases cause them to believe that conservatism is deviant.”

Ideological homogeneity hurts the academic community. If our ideas are never challenged, how are we to substantiate our claims and find creative new ways to support our ideas?

Universities and businesses often work diligently in improving the ethnic and racial diversity of students on campus. According to Forbes, 85 percent of businesses either responded “strongly agree” or “somewhat agree” to the statement “A diverse and inclusive workforce is crucial to encouraging different perspectives and ideas that drive innovation.”

While it is true that having a diverse group of people with different backgrounds and experiences does foster a more productive working environment, do we ever hear about the benefits of having ideological diversity?

Even if no productivity levels changed, having  an ideologically diverse environment helps people interact more respectfully with people holding different opinions. At a time of intense division, especially in the United States, hiding college students from the reality of another viewpoints presence closes them off to a world of opportunities.

Having people around you that think differently than you forces you to think about the validity of your own arguments. This type of environment doesn’t allow you to avoid valuable confrontations about the weaknesses of your beliefs.

Throughout my time at high school, I’ve had two conflicting arguments: what I heard from my family versus what I heard at school. Having these two perspectives showed me the weaknesses in the viewpoints of both environments and allowed me to readjust.

Being in an ideological bubble only makes intellectual conflict more uncomfortable and more likely to elicit an emotional response.

According to Newsweek and The Washington Post, a conservative student at the University of California, Berkeley, was attacked while handing out flyers for Turning Point U.S.A., a conservative nonprofit organization. A video of the attack is on The Washington Post article.
Also at the University of California, Berkeley, violent riots by far-left groups including Antifa ensued when conservative political commentator and lawyer Ben Shapiro came to speak at an event on campus according to CNN.

Although usually not violent at all or with only a few instances of violence of some sort, protests against giving opposing viewpoints a platform to speak at both public and private universities and sometimes the anticipation of protests do lead universities to de-platform these speakers. While private universities should be allowed to deplatform anyone they want, it doesn’t make de-platforming good for the university students at large or for the unity of our country.

Differences of opinion are not an attack on someone else’s opinion. Starting to see differences in opinion as a perk of being in a diverse nation and not as an threat to one’s identity is the key to a positive educational environment that prepares students to be respectful in the world outside of college.