We have been discussing the rising intolerance for conservatives and Republicans on campuses around the country. My alma mater, Northwestern University has been increasingly intolerant as a university due in large part to the failure of its president and the administration to protect free speech and diversity of viewpoints. Now the student government has asked the university to remove the chairman of the board of trustees from a presidential search committee. The disqualifying element for Board of Trustees Chair J. Landis Martin is that he supported former President Donald Trump as a donor. Notably, the students emphasized that Northwestern is now so overwhelmingly liberal that even one conservative on the committee is offensive and threatening.
This was notably not some small minority of students or groups. The Daily Northwestern reported “the bill passed with 17 votes in favor and one nay vote from the NU College Republicans senator.”
The objection was due to Martin’s $30,000 donation to Trump’s 2016 presidential election campaign. Student senator Jo Scaletty told the Daily Northwestern “He donated to Donald Trump who has demonstrated significant sexism, racism, xenophobia, homophobia, transphobia.” The resolution specifically states: “Whereas, the 2020 ASG survey demonstrates that the median student at Northwestern identifies with a Left political ideology.”
So the students oppose even a committee member who represents an opposing view. It is the ultimately example of viewpoint hegemony and hostility. These students have been taught that they should actively seek to exclude opposing views and that they have a right to expect the faculty, and presidency, to reliably liberal.
To their credit, they are at least more honest than most of their faculty. Many faculty members continue to pretend that they are not hostile to conservative or libertarian faculty candidates despite virtually purging top faculties of such colleagues. Whenever a conservative or libertarian scholar is proposed, faculty members declare that their work is not sufficiently interesting or probative — the same argument once used against liberal academics. The prejudice against conservatives (including on academic journals) is shocking and stifling but few faculty members are willing to admit that the small number of such faculty members is not a weird accident.
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.
This is not the only attack on conservatives on boards recently. A University of Massachusetts Professor wrote a column alleging that universities are actually “Right-wing institutions.” He relied on the fact that many board members are CEOs or MBA holders.
What is so chilling about this resolution is that it tells the over 70 million Americans who voted for Trump that they are not welcomed at Northwestern. Moreover, it tells conservative or libertarian alumni that they can give money to the university but they will not be tolerated in playing any role in shaping the university.
Martin received both a bachelor’s degree and a J.D. degree from Northwestern. He worked as an attorney at Kirkland & Ellis and was chief executive officer of NL Industries. He founded the private equity firm, Platte River Ventures. He was also the founding chairman of Crown Castle International Corp. These students of course do not object to being the recipients of his considerable financial support, including working out at the athletics complex that was built in part with a $15 million donation from Martin.
The ultimate responsibility for this insulting resolution is the Northwestern faculty and administration. They have created a culture where the student representatives almost unanimously declare that no Trump supporter will be tolerated in having a voice on the future university leadership. Northwestern is now viewed by the students as committed to the maintenance of “a Left political ideology.”