Massachusetts Professor Denounces Universities As “Right-Wing Institutions”

For years, some of us in academia have written about the virtual purging of Republican and conservative faculty from our colleges and universities, particularly at our national institutions. Many top schools have only a couple of such faculty left on faculties that are largely echo chambers of values running on a spectrum from the left to the far left. However, Asheesh Kapur Siddique, an assistant professor of history at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, has written a column that shows that “Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt.”

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 KüblerRoss 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.



43 thoughts on “Massachusetts Professor Denounces Universities As “Right-Wing Institutions””

  1. Prof. Turley,
    You and Siddique have different definitions, and are largely talking past each other. The words “conservative” and “liberal”, and their “neo-” variants are applied to both ideologies and relationships to existing political powers.
    Educational institutions, particularly elite institutions like Harvard, Berkeley, Stanford, et al. have the social role of grooming the next generation of power brokers in our society. The proportion of their graduates who move into positions of political influence and/or top corporate leaderships is the evidence of this, and there is a feedback loop. The powers that be in any society, regardless of their ideology, do not want the best and brightest of the next generation challenging their hegemony, or the ideology that supports it.

    An educational process which protects Ideological diversity, genuinely fosters substantive debate, creative problem solving, and which protects free speech is possible only when a society is genuinely democratic (almost never) or when the hegemony of the ruling class is so secure that it does not feel threatened. (certainly not the case in the US at the moment). At other times, higher education has as a major goal assuring idelogical conformity and loyalty among those expected to take the reins of power. The power brokers of this country, at this time, find cancel culture extremely valuable to consolidate their power, and divide their opponents.

    Siddique is, therefore completely conservative by one definition of the term, in that he is actively working to conserve the power of the current ruling powers, attempting to help them to tighten their control of our society. That his explicit political views are not conservative in a traditional ideological sense is also completely true. The irony is his absurd posturing to claim that he wants some kind of change in the status quo. Few things secure loyalty more effectively than creating an enemy.

    1. Jerry Silberman? Some people here are going to be rather amused. I actually don’t disagree with anything you have said in terms of the all too human imperative to consolidate power provided that you believe that neither liberals nor conservatives are immune to such a natural inclination. My objection is the claim that conservatives are less subject to this human failing or not at all. Until the the last 60 years or so, conservatives were the gate keepers in, for example, the Ivy League, with its rigid quotas limiting the number of Jews.

  2. It’s time the dog and pony show that is “higher education” be reevaluated. College used to be for the exceptionally bright and gifted students. Today around 70% of high school graduates enroll in college, which has been dumbed-down considerably, offering q whole host of useless degrees (much of them in the field of liberal arts). So many of those diploma aren’t worth the price of the paper they’re printed on. Three of my kids have never even worked a job in the field for which they hold degrees. My wife’s youngest daughter has a business degree from the University of Pennsylvania, she’s never needed it, she works for a charity as a go-between with the media. She’s a glorified secretary (her words). Her sister is an RN, though she only worked as a nurse for a few months. For that past several years she coordinates meetings/events between pharmaceutical companies and doctors.. from home. Like her sister, a glorified secretary. Between my three kids and my wife’s two daughters, there’s a half a million dollars wasted. You can argue they have degrees to fall back on, but the fact is they are all in their late 20’s and early 30’s now, mostly married and well-established. Higher education should be for young people with passions, career goals, not the average Jane and Joe who would be better suited to learn a trade or start a business, go into sales or get a job at the local Home Depot and maybe make manager in 10 years.

    1. My brother who worked as a teacher in the California school system for 30 years was always bragging about education and the California university system that is so smart and all the students who go are the best and brightest. He retired about 7 or 8 years ago. In our discussions since then he finally admitted that only about a 1/3 of the students that go to college actually benefit from their experience and learn something useful while the other 2/3 get no more than a glorified high school diploma. Sounds about right in my book. Education is what you make it. Too many “crap” diplomas out there.

  3. So what? One professor writes an op-ed. I am scared.
    Chilling is the fact that free speech can end a person’s career.

    Time for alumni and tax payers to stop funding programs and professors who snub students’ constitutional freedoms. It is their right to criticize and question authority, organizations or individuals who have an agenda, no matter who or what it is.

    I know a thing or two about universities-they always need money and cannot afford to bite the hand that feeds them.

  4. Its time for an affirmative action program based on political ideology to ensure our children get a balanced education and are exposed to all points of view.

    1. It’s time for American children to be taught the exceptionalism achieved by American freedom and free enterprise, the dominion of individual freedom over governmental power, the “manifest tenor” of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and true American history, sans “Crazy Abe” Lincoln’s “Reign of Terror,” including his successors’ improperly ratified, unconstitutional and illegitimate “Reconstruction Amendments,” and Wilson, FDR, Clinton, Obama and Biden’s treasonous and unconstitutional imposition of the principles of communism.

  5. Jonathan: In a number of blogs you have trotted out the old trope that universities, like Harvard, are conducting a systematic campaign of “purging” the student population and faculty of “conservative” thought. It’s not true but you keep peddling this conspiracy theory. It is quite true that the recent Harvard Crimson survey shows only 7% of incoming freshmen self-identify as “conservative”. Without providing one ounce of evidence you claim this trend is not the “result of accident” but is by “design”–some type of conspiracy by university presidents and administrators to keep out “conservative” students and faculty. Bizarre! We all know it’s very difficult to get into Harvard. Isn’t it possible that “conservative” applicants don’t have the academic chops to qualify for entrance? Just thinking out loud here. On the faculty side many have argued that there should be an affirmative action plan to recruit “conservative” faculty. Most university faculty oppose a litmus test for hiring faculty because hiring decisions should be based solely on scholarship not political ideology. Now maybe there is a more rational explanation for the dearth of “conservative” faculty on university campuses. Take, for example, the case of former Harvard historian Niall Ferguson. He left Harvard voluntarily because he felt “conservatives” are an endangered species. Where did Ferguson go? To the Hoover Institution where he is Senior Fellow. Ferguson, it seems, prefers the fellowship of the predominantly “conservative” fellows at Hoover. Ferguson was not “purged” or forced to resign from Harvard. He left for more lucrative employment. And that’s probably why you joined all the conspiracy theorists at FoxNews.

    We also know that right-wing political activists have been working over the years to increase the teaching of conservative thought on university campuses. The Charles Koch Foundation gave more than $50 million to 390 colleges and universities between 2005 and 2012–including your University. Of course, Koch grants come with strings attached. Economic Departments that receive Koch grants have to teach about “human freedom” and “free market economics”. Grants by Koch also include the right to make and veto faculty appointments. At Florida State a Koch grant makes it mandatory the reading of Ayn Rand writings. There is no comparable “liberal” foundation that puts the kinds of restrictions Koch imposes. So before you criticize the Harvard’s of this world think about what you call the “systematic bias in academia” and where it’s actually coming from.

    1. Dennis,

      Excellent points all! Too bad that we’ll never know what Turley would make of them since he is unreachable. You rightly question whether the lack of conservative professors is a liberal conspiracy or merely a happenstance.

      In a similar vein, many on the Right wonder why Hollywood is disproportionately “controlled” by Jews as if it were some Communist plot to dominate American culture. It so happens in the early 1900’s Jews were systematically excluded from guilds and professions open to Christians. As a result, Jews had to pioneer businesses which were then considered undignified and degrading. Jewish entrepreneurs gravitated out of necessity to pioneer the nascent business of shooting motion pictures. Who knew that it would turn into a dominant industry. Christian antisemitism played a role in the Jewish predominance in Hollywood, not a Jewish conspiracy to control the media.

      Similarly, there are other reasons as you suggest that explain the predominance of liberal college professors apart from the Rightwing myth of liberals keeping conservatives from its ranks. The vast majority of colleges and universities are secular, and conservatives, who by and large are religious, naturally feel out of place. William Buckley, Jr., summed it up, “a conservative is a fellow who is standing athwart history yelling Stop!” No wonder this regressive attitude does not fare well in an educational environment open to a more enlightened and scientific pursuit of knowledge. Refusing to hire a conservative professor who desires to teach Intelligent Design as an alternative scientific theory to Evolution is simply a rational rejection of people of faith as suitable teachers of science.

    2. “Of course, Koch grants come with strings attached.”

      Good. It’s morally irresponsible to give money to universities without such “strings.” (Plus, your facts are wrong about the nature of those Koch “strings.”)

      “There is no comparable “liberal” foundation that puts the kinds of restrictions Koch imposes.”

      That is laughably false. There are countless such ideologically-driven programs, and even schools, at universities around the country. (I’m not going to list them because doing so wouldn’t make a dent in your “narrative.”)

  6. The American Founders were conservative. The Declaration of Independence was conservative. The American Revolutionary War was conservative. The Constitution is conservative. The American Founders passed the conservative Naturalization Acts of 1790, 1795, 1798 and 1802 in four iterations requiring citizens to be “…free white person(s).” Alexander Hamilton admonished the judicial branch to be conservative, to support the conservative Constitution and to “..declare all acts contrary to the manifest tenor of the Constitution void.” America is conservative. Who doesn’t fully comprehend that America was designed and engineered to be conservative?

    Karl Marx wrote the Communist Manifesto 59 years after the adoption of the Constitution because none of the principles of the Communist Manifesto were in the Constitution. Had the principles of the Communist Manifesto been in the Constitution, Karl Marx would have had no reason to write the Communist Manifesto. The principles of the Communist Manifesto were not in the Constitution then and the principles of the Communist Manifesto are not in the Constitution now.

    Article 1, Section 8, provides Congress the power to tax ONLY for “…general Welfare…,” omitting and, thereby, excluding any power to tax for individual or specific welfare, redistribution of wealth or charity. The same article provides Congress the power to regulate ONLY money, the “flow” of commerce and land and naval Forces. Additionally, the 5th Amendment right to private property is not qualified by the Constitution and is, therefore, absolute, allowing Congress no power to claim or exercise dominion over private property, the sole exception being the full taking of property under the principle of eminent domain.

    Government exists, under the Constitution and Bill of Rights, to provide maximal freedom to individuals while it is severely limited and restricted to merely facilitating that maximal freedom of individuals through the provision of security and infrastructure.

    The entire communistic American welfare state is unconstitutional, including but not limited to, affirmative action, quotas, welfare, food stamps, rent control, social services, forced busing, minimum wage, utility subsidies, WIC, TANF, SNAP, HAMP, HARP, TARP, Agriculture, Commerce, Education, Labor, Energy, Obamacare, Social Security, Social Security Disability, Social Security Supplemental Income, Medicare, Medicaid, “Fair Housing” laws, “Non-Discrimination” laws, etc.

    The hysterical, incoherent, irrational, narcissistic, power hungry, and bound-for-failure communists (liberals, progressives, socialists, democrats, RINOs) have been given free reign.

    God knows why.

    “But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

    – Declaration of Independence, 1776

  7. This guy is not only delusional – he’s dangerous! It’s a pity that he views were published in a magazine for teens. This type of indoctrinated is extremely dangerous. We need to be teaching our students how to think, not what to think. Moreover, he has no clue about the importance of solid corporate governance in academia or elsewhere. Let’s hope that the trustees of this fine institution are up for the challenge!

  8. In order for activists to keep abusing other people, they have to perpetuate the myth that they are victims.

    Political institutions should not receive public funds. It’s not fair that Democrat propaganda organizations like NPR and most universities get taxpayer dollars. It conveys an unfair advantage to the Democrat Party.

    Stop public funding to political organizations of any kind. Let them sink or swim on their own.

    Require universities to disclose political bias, or the harassment of conservative students, on their website and all marketing materials. If conservative applicants for employment or admittance are not welcome, then say say. That way parents will be fully armed with information on where to spend their money.

    Perhaps that will drive a market for unbiased universities that, dare I say, stick to respectable degrees and avoid the fluff majors for students who lack academic chops. No degrees in surfing, cannabis cultivation, pop culture, activism, or black sexuality studies. Yes, these are all actual majors. The professor Mireille Miller-Young who stole the signs of pro life teens at UCSB specialized in black women in porn, or “ethnopornography.” Her bio claims that she’s currently working on her next book, I kid you not, Hoe Theory.

    Yep. That’s what spiraling costs of higher education will get you. The kid you send to college could be taking classes on porn from Miller-Young.

    1. Karen,

      You Trumpists have Liberty University, Oral Roberts University, Hillside College, Notre Dame, Christian seminaries, Talmudical academies, etc., where you can learn all about the science of Creationism and Noah’s Ark.

      What are you worried about?

  9. If the professor is serious then maybe he is a moron, if he isn’t serious then he is a liar. I am guessing that he is a highly educated moron that lives and works around people that are 100% far left liberal/radical. Okay, not a highly educated moron ( I was using hyperbole), a highly educated radical who although smart is not smart enough to know that his world view is limited due to his partisan radicalism. He won’t let sunshine in.

    Maybe the professor is just sore because he cannot attain tenure which of course means it is “the Man’s” fault. Here is a guy, a minority, that has been accepted to Columbia, Oxford and Princeton and yet he hates “the system”. The professor is in the process of writing THREE books, not one, not two, but three. Maybe he should cut it down to one book and with his spare time he should read things that he doesn’t agree with and that include ideas he has not been willing to explore. Or, again, he is just a radical.

    This is a shame because with his wonderful academic credentials he has the ability to be a great teacher, but instead he just wants to be the radical who hates the system that made him rich and powerful.

  10. There are two major problems here – first the author of the article is obviously Arabic and probably Muslim, and hates the United States that gave him or his parents a home. The second problem is that his article was published in TeenVogue, a magazine aimed at teenage girls. Bear in mind that this is the same magazine that gave it’s young readers a lesson in how to have anal sex. Anyone who still doesn’t think there are seditious groups at work to establish a Marxist dictatorship in America has rocks in their heads.

    1. Conservatives should have been buying up media names like TeenVouge, Cosmo, Better Homes and Gardens. Be active participates of the culture wars at street level , long before colleges and other institutions weigh in.

      1. Caught sleeping at the switch, they were. And now we’re all toast.

      1. That comment was addressed to semcgowanjr. He deserves the credit.

  11. Massive projection by Siddique.

    Siddique, Democrats, and the “woke,” more generally, are ushering in fascism.

  12. To a communist all non-totalitarian governance systems are right wing.

  13. For several years Teen Vogue has been at the forefront of what was then political correctness, and is now “wokeness” or critical theory.

  14. Dr. Turley, the fact that there is no empirical argument that could contradict your post won’t change a fact that left wing radicals use constantly. Whatever the situation, they will take the data, create a narrative, usually nonsensical, and come to their only conclusion available: Racism and white privilege are the cause of the problem of whatever the problem is. Identity politics and class warfare are the default response to any question asked of the left. How much should a ‘wealthy’ person pay to be considered paying their fair share? What IS equity? How could one party receive 90%+ of donations from Hollywood, teachers unions (and almost all the others), most universities, the news media, etc. and have these institutions skewing right. There is no real answer except that I must check my whiteness and racism at the door as I enter the discussion. My identity group is my answer. The rest is noise.

  15. Prof. Siddeque is either an idiot or a manipulative SOB looking for publicity.

    In either case he is a liar and doesn’t deserve consideration.

    Just another data point in the decline of American universities.

  16. Right wing…left wing…
    Need both to fly!
    Kids in college are too dumb to cry.
    When they sit ..on the toilet .
    In the penny arcade…
    They got fat Dems named Donald.. .
    And they’re too dumb to shave!

  17. Siddique proves himself to be totally ignorant and should restart his education at first grade.

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