Kudos to Prof. Sam Abrams, heroic champion of academic viewpoint diversity fighting ideological bullying – AEI – American Enterprise Institute: Freedom, Opportunity, Enterprise29th March 2019
Last October, Sarah Lawrence University professor of politics Sam Abrams (and American Enterprise Institute visiting scholar) brave politically incorrect advocate of viewpoint and intellectual diversity on college campuses, had the temerity to publish a fact-based, empirically-supported op-ed in the New York Times titled “Think Professors Are Liberal? Try School Administrators,” here’s a slice:
While considerable focus has been placed in recent decades on the impact of the ideological bent of college professors, when it comes to collegiate life — living in dorms, participating in extracurricular organizations — the ever growing ranks of administrators have the biggest influence on students and campus life across the country.
Intrigued by this phenomenon, I recently surveyed a nationally representative sample of roughly 900 “student-facing” administrators — those whose work concerns the quality and character of a student’s experience on campus. I found that liberal staff members outnumber their conservative counterparts by the astonishing ratio of 12-to-one. Only 6 percent of campus administrators identified as conservative to some degree, while 71 percent classified themselves as liberal or very liberal (see chart above). It’s no wonder so much of the nonacademic programming on college campuses is politically one-sided.
The 12-to-one ratio of liberal to conservative college administrators makes them the most left-leaning group on campus. In previous research, I found that academic faculty report a six-to-one ratio of liberal to conservative professors. Incoming first-year students, by contrast, reported less than a two-to-one ratio of liberals to conservatives, according to a 2016 finding by the Higher Education Research Institute. It appears that a fairly liberal student body is being taught by a very liberal professoriate — and socialized by an incredibly liberal group of administrators.
After further reporting details of his survey-based findings that differed in some cases based on the type of school (private vs. public vs. religiously affiliated), schools ranking (selective colleges have higher liberal-to-conservative ratios), and geographical region (there’s a 25-to-one ratio of liberals to conservatives for New England college administrators), Prof. Abrams concludes his op-ed as follows:
This warped ideological distribution among college administrators should give our students and their families pause. To students who are in their first semester at school, I urge you not to accept unthinkingly what your campus administrators are telling you. Their ideological imbalance, coupled with their agenda-setting power, threatens the free and open exchange of ideas, which is precisely what we need to protect in higher education in these politically polarized times.
If your reaction, like mine and any rational, sane person, is that Prof. Abrams presented a cogent, rational, data-driven, and well-reasoned essay on the current state of ideological imbalance among college administrators, a phenomenon that is generally well-known and non-controversial, then you aren’t a typical Sarah Lawrence college student or one of their faculty and administrative supporters. If you thought, unlike me and any sane, balanced rational person, that as a result of his New York Times op-ed, Prof. Abrams deserved to be subjected to slander, threats, defaming, and property destruction, and deserved to be labeled as “an anti-queer, misogynist, and racist who actively targets queer people, women, and people of color” you’d most likely be a member (or supporter) of the Sarah Lawrence student organization called the “Diaspora Coalition.” Further, you’d likely have participated in the 24-hour occupation/takeover on March 11 of a campus building and/or one of student signatories of a 9-page list of complaints and demands including the claim that the NYT article “revealed the anti-Blackness, anti-LGBTQ+, and anti-woman bigotry of Abrams.” Further demands include (emphasis original):
We demand that Samuel Abrams’ position at the College be put up to tenure review to a panel of the Diaspora Coalition and at least three faculty members of color. In addition, the College must issue a statement condemning the harm that Abrams has caused to the college community, specifically queer, Black, and female students, whilst apologizing for its refusal to protect marginalized students wounded by his op-ed and the ignorant dialogue that followed. Abrams must issue a public apology to the broader SLC community and cease to target Black people, queer people, and women.
Note that at no time (apparently) did anybody challenge or refute the empirical data uncovered and reported by Prof. Abrams and displayed above. The student reaction was entirely fact-free and emotional, reflecting significant deficits in critical thinking and the ability to think rationally and logically based on facts and empirical evidence. At no time (apparently) did any of the aggrieved students recognize and acknowledge that the lack of political and ideological diversity at Sarah Lawrence and elsewhere was a potential problem for an industry (higher education) that is based on the mission of intellectual development and intellectual diversity. In the new upside-down world of
higher watered-down education, what masquerades as “diversity” is really uniformity, in terms of viewpoint and intellectual uniformity, what is called “equity” is really inequity (e.g., the treatment of Prof. Abrams), and what masquerades as “inclusion” is really “exclusion” of all non-leftist-progressive ideas and professors like Abrams.
In a new article published today by Prof. Abrams in Minding the Campus titled “The Bullying and Silencing of Students,” Professor Abrams provides an update to his unfortunate and unwarranted odyssey into an insane campus experience of intolerance, bigotry, and closed-mindedness, here’s an excerpt:
Recently, the New York Times piece garnered national attention again because a group of unnamed student protesters calling themselves the Diaspora Coalition labeled me a racist misogynist and demanded among many varied items that my ‘position at the College be put up to tenure review to a panel of the Diaspora Coalition and at least three faculty members of color.’ While Coalition’s demand is a direct threat to academic freedom and undercuts the very idea of tenure, it also represents another devastating case of ideological bullying as many students at the College found the demands made of me and the list generally to be absurd but were simply afraid to speak out for fear of reputational consequences.
Since the protest began, I have received some 200 letters from current and former students at Sarah Lawrence who have been horrified by these developments but are simply living in fear of dissenting from the progressive mob. While Sarah Lawrence students like to think of their experiences as being different, letters that I regularly receive from students around the country and the data make it clear that the ideological bullying leading to being fearful of questioning the prevailing attitudes and ideas is fairly common nationwide.
And here Professor Abrams goes again, wandering into the apparent danger zone of presenting actual facts and data:
In 2018, the Buckley Program at Yale asked a national sample of undergraduates, “Have you felt intimidated in sharing your ideas, opinions or beliefs in class because they were different from those of your classmates or peers?” 54% – a majority of students – stated that they felt intimidated by their peers on campus “often.” Breaking this down further, 62% of those students who identify as conservative “often” feel silenced and this should not be surprising given the progressive impulses on campuses. However, 53% of both moderate and liberal students also report that they felt uncomfortable sharing their ideas as well. So majorities of even those on the left “often feel intimidated” sharing ideas that go against the dominant, habitually liberal, views present on campus.
As before, those facts won’t be challenged or refuted but will likely lead to a new round of triggering the progressive mob. And here’s Professor Abrams’ conclusion:
The narrative here should give all stakeholders in higher education pause – from trustees and parents to faculty and students – because the ability of students to dissent on college and university campuses is disappearing. Open discourse is being replaced by ideological bullying and the quelling of questioning, and this is a threat to a core value of higher education.
While the administration and my faculty colleagues at Sarah Lawrence did not support my right to free speech and academic freedom and the College’s students are understandably afraid to speak when the school threw speech protections under the bus, I hope my narrative can serve as a warning that our institutions of higher education are close to a crisis that we must avoid: viewpoint diversity dies when we cannot challenge others and we are bullied into silence and conformity.
MP: What can be done about this intolerant ideological bullying and silencing of students and professors by the progressive mobs, while college administrators stand by and tolerate the campus insanity? Professor Walter E. Williams has promoted the answer to this academic insanity for many years, summarized as follows: College administrators, faculty and students may have closed and dogmatic minds about their academic
diversity uniformity agendas and tolerance of ideological bullying, but there’s nothing more effective in opening up closed minds than the sound of pocketbooks snapping shut.
See these examples of Professor Williams’ solution: a) Metastasizing Academic Cancer, b) “Campus Lunacy” and c) “Academic Fascism,” where Walter concludes:
You might ask: What’s Walter Williams’ solution to these problems? For starters, benefactors should stop giving money to universities that endorse anti-free speech and racist diversity policy. Simply go to a university’s website. If you find an office of diversity, close your pocketbook. There’s nothing like the sound of pocketbooks snapping shut to open the closed minds of administrators.
Related: See Robby Soave’s coverage of Prof. Abrams’ struggles and mistreatment at Reason.com: a) “Sarah Lawrence Professor’s Office Door Vandalized After He Criticized Leftist Bias” and b) “Activist Students Demand Sarah Lawrence College Punish a Conservative Professor for Expressing His Views.” Also see Sam Abrams’ November 2018 article “The dangerous silence in higher education.”