Professor Siddique wrote to the young readers of Teen Vogue that colleges and universities are actually “right-wing institutions.” In his May 19th column, Siddique wrote that the dominance of the left on campuses is a pure myth as is the “alleged lack of ideological diversity on American college campuses.” In fact, the “modern American university is a right-wing institution” and “[t]he right’s dominance of academia and its reign over universities is destroying higher education, and the only way to save the American university is for students and professors to take back control of campuses.”Professor Siddique wrote to the young readers of Teen Vogue that colleges and universities are actually “right-wing institutions.”
In his May 19th column, Siddique wrote that the dominance of the left on campuses is a pure myth as is the “alleged lack of ideological diversity on American college campuses.” In fact, the “modern American university is a right-wing institution” and “[t]he right’s dominance of academia and its reign over universities is destroying higher education, and the only way to save the American university is for students and professors to take back control of campuses.” The column has been widely circulated with approval. It allows activists to claim that they are still marginalized as well as to justify continued measures to cancel and silence those with opposing views. Siddique simply dismisses polls and studies overwhelmingly contradicting his claims. He lashes out at the students of Harvard who described the university’s conservative faculty as “an endangered species.” When pressed on the lack of conservative or Republican faculty members in hiring, professors will often shrug and say that such any available conservative scholars were simply not viewed as intellectually interesting or their work sufficiently “rigorous.”
Siddique’s evidence that colleges and universities remain right-wing institutions is that Trustees often come from corporate or business backgrounds. For example, he notes that Harvard’s trustees include “six MBAs and only four PhDs.” Oberlin, he notes, includes CEOs of major corporations. We can set aside his assumption that being a CEO or MBA naturally makes a person a conservative or “right-wing.” What Siddique ignores is that these boards are critical advisers in ensuring the financial stability of these institutions. As academics we often have little experience in running businesses or large organizations. These boards allow universities to tap into experienced business managers to help ensure that our institutions remain solvent and thriving. They provide guidance on issues ranging from investments to advertising strategies. That guidance is what protects our endowments and allows us to offer scholarships and expansion plans. Finally, board members are often large donors or can be used to attract other large donors for universities. Siddique is one of the beneficiaries of such involvement the very CEOs and MBAs he is ridiculing.
The level of denial (and transference) in Siddique’s column would make Kübler–Ross blush. The lack of political and ideological diversity on faculties is recognized by most faculty members. There has been a growing intolerance for such dissenting views. At Berkeley, even an anonymous letter from a faculty member (who feared retaliation) was condemned by colleagues. At UChicago, a respected academic was the subject of a campaign to his termination simply because he criticized BLM and questioned claims about police abuse. A University of Pennsylvania professor faced calls for his termination when he questioned an anti-racism statement. A Harvard professor was the subject of such a campaign for questioning the support for some claims of police abuse. A UCF professor was put under police protection after challenging certain claims as akin to “black privilege.” A Cornell professor was attacked by his own colleagues for voicing dissenting views about BLM and its underlying claims. A Virginia professor had to take a leave of absence after criticizing BLM. Even students have been subject to formal condemnations for criticizing the BLM movement or questioning its claims like a recent controversy at Georgetown. Students in New York colleges have faced such retaliation for their views, including again Cornell. A Wisconsin student columnist was fired for voicing opposing views of defunding the police.
We previously discussed a Gallup poll showing ninety percent of Pomona students said that they did not feel free to speak openly or freely. It is an indictment of not just Pomona but many of our colleges. This is not a problem for many students but an increasingly small percentage of self-identified conservatives. One recent poll shows the already small population of conservative and Republican students has been cut by roughly half. The Crimson survey covered over 76 percent of the Harvard College Class of 2024 and found that the class contained 72.4 percent who self-identify as either “very liberal” or “somewhat liberal.” Only 7.4 percent self-identify as “very conservative” or “somewhat conservative.” Another Harvard study showed that 35 percent of conservatives felt that they could share their views on campus.As faculties continue to block the few remaining Republican and conservative faculty, there is an open shunning of such academics in publications and conferences. At the same time, conservative speakers are routinely banned or opposed in speaking on campuses. Academics have called for even more open and direct purging of universities of Republican faculty. Others have called for banning such figures from campuses. Blacklisting and banishments are now in vogue.
All of these calls and polls however are a bunch of poppycock according to Professor Siddique, who is telling teens that the problem is that schools are right-wing institutions and that we need more action to counter conservative voices and viewpoints. He is not alone. I recently heard a leading academic figure say to a group of scholars that she was surprised to encounter a “liberal constitutional scholar” on a faculty. Such denials give license to continue to exclude conservative applicants and to foster preferred viewpoints on campus. It is a type of academic anosognosia and it is clearly catching on.