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Hiding in higher ed

Christians and conservatives in the academic closet

Hiding in higher ed

(Krieg Barrie)

For a long time Christians and conservatives could say the leftism of most college professors doesn’t matter: Students weren’t paying attention. This year we’ve found that many have paid attention. The evidence: Socialist Bernie Sanders overwhelmingly won the votes of millennial college graduates.

While the Sanders success is fresh in our minds, this summer is the time for Christian or conservative alumni of just about every state and secular private college or university to make a firm resolution: I will not donate to the general fund, no matter how good a season the football team has this fall. It’s also the time for state legislators to refuse to pay the salaries of professorial propagandists.

One new book, Passing on the Right: Conservative Professors in the Progressive University (Oxford), paints a sad picture of academic bias and conservative cowardice at major universities. Authors Jon Shields and Joshua Dunn tried hard not to discourage conservative kids from going to graduate school, but quotations from numerous closeted right-of-center professors tell the story.

Here are some: “I just bite my tongue. … I just deliberately lie. … I learned I should keep my mouth shut. … It is dangerous to even think [a conservative thought] when I’m on campus, because it might come out of my mouth. … [It’s] exhausting. … You’re not greeted, your greeting isn’t returned in the hall, graduate students are urged not to work with you.”

Conservatives who publish still perish. They often receive lower wages than their liberal counterparts.

The rare pro-life professors seem to have it the worst: “If some people saw me coming, they’d walk the other way.” A pro-life literature professor at a large state university had to do some quick thinking when a colleague spotted the bumper sticker on a car he drove: “Abortion Stops a Beating Heart.” News of the heresy spread through the department, but the professor partially saved himself by saying: “It’s my wife’s car. I would never in a moment think that as a male I could tell my wife what [to do].”

Exceptions occur, but conservatives who publish still perish. They often receive lower wages than their liberal counterparts. Even nice guys finish last: One professor said, “I really thought that if one spoke in a civil way [and] introduced points of view that were underrepresented in the academy, that you would get some credit for that. You don’t get any credit for that.”

What’s a conservative or Christian professor to do? One solution is to hide as a graduate student to get a job, hide as an assistant professor to get tenure, hide as an associate professor to get a full professorship, and hide as a full professor to get an endowed chair. But that’s no way to live—and once you start it’s hard to stop.

Shields and Dunn quote one literature professor’s observation that those who hide on the road to a full professorship have “fifteen years of acculturation into cowardice and furtiveness. Suddenly you’re 38 years old and now you’re going to be [bold?] It doesn’t happen. People are tired. They have kids. They’ve got bills to pay. They want life to be nice.”

The authors offer modest suggestions. They say “liberal professors and the administrators of universities should make it clear that they welcome conservative perspectives.” But many don’t welcome conservative perspectives, and if they did, their socialist colleagues would harass them. Organizations with self-perpetuating boards of directors can readily become corrupt. Most university faculties are self-perpetuating. Many are rancid.

My own sense, as a University of Texas professor who was open about my beliefs: Christians and conservatives need to be strong and courageous. That’s easy for me to say, because once I started editing WORLD in 1992 academia was not central for me. Even so, I left my tenured professorship in 2007 only after four little Olaskys became big.

We need Christian professors like Mike Adams, a University of North Carolina-Wilmington professor who became a Christian in 2000 and didn’t hide it: Turned down for a well-deserved promotion in 2006, he fought and won a seven-year legal battle. We need alumni who donate only to support particular professors. We need legislators to fund scholarships for excellent students to use at any college or university. Those who believe in Christ specifically or liberty generally should not support the enemies of both.



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  • JW
    Posted: Fri, 07/08/2016 03:48 pm

    I stopped donating to my liberal almamaters--high school and college--many years ago. Now I support colleges and universities that are conservative and/or Christian (where our son attended school and others). I am alarmed, however, by the recent California legislations aimed at silencing Christian universities and colleges in California. What a travestry!

    Cause for not only Christian professors and graduate students to speak up, but our prayers in support of them. If the God is for us, then who can be against us.





    Posted: Thu, 07/14/2016 06:00 pm

    Dr. Olasky said "We need legislators to fund scholarships for excellent students to use at any college or university."

    We need to question the rational for state funding of the expensive institutions.  Over the past two centuries, state colleges and universities have become a very expensive part of the budgets of many states. We need to raise questions such as:

    Is public college education a vital state objective?

    Are state colleges and universities run efficiently?

    Is there a commensurate return on investment for the state?

    Are state colleges and universities educating students well?

    As state institutions, are the benefits of state colleges and universities distributed equitably?

    The answer to these questions have led some to conclude that state colleges and universities should receive little or no public funds.

  •  JEFF's picture
    Posted: Sat, 07/16/2016 05:35 pm

    Our kids have been lost long before college. Primary and secondary education has become more centralized and nationalized. The teachers have been indoctrinated at college. Parents still want to think that it is 'other schools' not theirs which is bending the mind of their children towards godlessness. Until parents want to make the sacrifice to home school or Christian school there's little hope for change.

  •  Mark & Elizabeth's picture
    Mark & Elizabeth
    Posted: Sat, 09/03/2016 01:52 pm

    We stopped giving to our alma mater, a state school, years ago; just last week I declined to give when the enthusiastic student called asking for money. Your comments on this subject, though, make me think we ought to tell our old school why we've stopped giving. Whether it would make a difference is beyond our knowing, but not telling them surely won't make an impact.