Confronting the Campus Leftists · 22 April 2004

Filed under: Press Coverage

By The Phyllis Schlafly Report--April 2004

David Horowitz thinks that anybody who cares about the future of America should confront the fact that U.S. colleges and universities are the fountainhead of financing for the radical movement in America.

Horowitz was a leftwing campus activist in the 1960s, but he says that, now, professors holding tenure at major universities are men and women who would have been too radical for him in the 1960s when he was publishing the leftwing magazine Ramparts. During the 1970s, these hardcore leftists achieved critical mass on university faculties, took control of hiring committees, and then saw to it that only leftists were hired.

Now there are literally tens of thousands of "hard-line Marxists" in academic sinecures. They have made universities "a subsidiary of the political left and the Democratic Party."

These hard-core leftists have no shame about using the classroom podium for political speechmaking. They may be teaching a course in biology or Shakespeare, but that doesn't inhibit them from launching into tirades against American policies or in favor of the Communists in El Salvador, or assigning students to write a paper on why George W. Bush is a war criminal.

These radical leftists have redefined the mission of universities. Instead of the pursuit of knowledge and truth, universities today see themselves as agencies for social change. Horowitz says the change they seek is fundamentally anti-American.

The amount of money universities have to carry out their leftwing mission is mind-boggling. Whereas conservative and pro-American intellectual sources (such as the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute) and conservative journals may have budgets of a few million dollars, universities have billions of dollars. A great portion is taxpayers' money (through research grants and student-financed tuition), and in addition the leftists control most student activity assessments.

Many people have decried the bias of universities, but David Horowitz has a plan of action to turn it around. First, expose how bad the situation is, and second, challenge them directly by using the liberals' credo of diversity against them by calling for intellectual diversity.

For years, the universities have sanctimoniously proclaimed the sanctified value of diversity, but they define diversity to mean only giving space to radical leftwingers and feminists. Horowitz's Center for the Study of Popular Culture made a survey of 32 colleges and universities and reported that the overall ratio of Democrats to Republicans is ten to one.

At Cornell University, which is typical, 95% of the faculty who are registered to vote are Democrats. Of the faculty in the government department, only one of 23 members is a registered Republican.

At almost every American university, conservative professors are drastically outnumbered. Rep Jack Kingston (R-GA) says, "Most students probably graduate without ever having a class taught by a professor with a conservative viewpoint."

Kingston and Rep. Walter B. Jones (R-NC) have introduced a resolution in Congress (H.Con.Res. 318) to promote the most important diversity of all, the diversity of ideas. Their bill, which has 33 cosponsors, calls on colleges to end discrimination against hiring conservative faculty and against students.

Senator Judd Gregg's (R-NH) Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions held a hearing on the issue of liberal bias on campus. Witnesses testified that colleges intimidate students and faculty, force them to take "diversity training," and condone harassment of students who write conservative columns for campus publications.

Anne Neal, president of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, was one of the witnesses. She said, "Rather than fostering intellectual diversity . . . our colleges and universities are increasingly bastions of political correctness hostile to free exchange of ideas."

What Horowitz's campaign has achieved is to highlight the hypocrisy of university professors and administrators who do a lot of talking about "intellectual" and "diversity" but almost never combine the two words into "intellectual diversity." Academic Bill of Rights

Academic Bill of Rights

David Horowitz's new organization, Students for Academic Freedom, has attracted students on about 90 campuses with the goal of demanding a more balanced point of view among faculty and in campus lecture series. They are promoting an Academic Bill of Rights as a policy statement for colleges to adopt so that students can enjoy intellectual diversity with fairness for conservative viewpoints. Their website is:

It is refreshing that many conservative students are joining Horowitz's campaign to fight back against academic intolerance. For example, some conservative students at the University of Texas have begun compiling a "Professor Watch List" to warn students about professors who use their classes for liberal indoctrination.

The Colorado State Legislature held a hearing and uncovered outrageous examples of classroom indoctrination and faculty retaliation.

Academic Bill of Rights legislation was then introduced in the Colorado State Legislature. The bill put forth four key principles: (1) that students' academic freedom won't be infringed by instructors who attack their political or religious beliefs in class or who introduce controversial material substantially unrelated to the subject of study, (2) that students will be graded solely on their answers and appropriate knowledge of the subjects and they shall not be discriminated against for their political or religious beliefs, (3) that schools must distribute funds derived from students fees on a viewpoint-neutral basis and shall maintain neutrality with respect to substantive political or religious differences, and (4) that students will be made fully informed of their institutions' grievance procedures for violations of academic freedom.

That sounds pretty reasonable and non-controversial, doesn't it? Not on a college campus, it isn't! One Denver Post writer suggested that this bill would promote "campus witch hunts by thin-skinned students." An Aurora Sentinel editor wrote that "this bill would allow fanatical lawmakers to destroy one of the greatest bastions of freedom and genius the world has ever known: American colleges and universities." A spokesman for the Association of University Professors attacked what he called "a sad history of legislators expressing views on what should and should not be taught."

Nevertheless, the bill passed the Colorado House Education Committee on February 25, and enough votes were lined up to pass the full House.

The supporters of the Academic Bill of Rights won a big victory, although not in the way they originally planned. The bill's sponsor, State Representative Shawn Mitchell, agreed to withdraw it in exchange for the commitment of the presidents of Colorado's four major universities to review their campus grievance and students-rights policies, and also pledge "To help make the campus environment open and inviting to students of all political viewpoints." The college presidents assured the legislators that, as institutions of higher learning, "we are committed and continue to be committed to supporting freedom of expression, a wide spectrum of political views and the First Amendment."

Meanwhile, an Academic Bill of Rights sailed through the Georgia Senate on March 24 on a 41-5 vote. The resolution calls for colleges and universities to voluntarily end discrimination in hiring practices based on political or religious beliefs and to promote intellectual diversity and academic freedom on campus.

The bill has no enforcement power; it merely encourages colleges to recognize and promote intellectual diversity on campus. The bill does not specify a particular political party, but backers focus on discrimination against conservatives, and everybody knows who is being discriminated against on college campuses.

Fighting Against Campus Speech Codes

Students sued Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania as part of a campaign to abolish the notorious campus speech codes, which punish students and even professors who say anything that someone might offensive. The speech codes are outrageous violations of the right of free speech. The feminists are vigorous backers of campus speech codes because they don't want feminist follies to be debatable and, besides, feminists have no sense of humor. Some college speech codes have even banned inappropriate jokes.

The Shippensburg lawsuit is backed by the Philadelphia-based Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), founded by Professor Alan Charles Kors of the University of Pennsylvania.

The preamble to Shippensburg's student code of conduct stated that the university would protect speech that was not "inflammatory, demeaning, or harmful toward others." In a legal settlement, Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania agreed to reword portions of its code and to replace its "Racism and Cultural Diversity Policy" with a statement affirming the university's commitment to "educational diversity." University officials agreed to make the changes only after a U.S. District Court judge enjoined the university from enforcing portions of its conduct code, as well as parts of its cultural-diversity policy, calling them "likely unconstitutional."

This was the second legal victory won by FIRE. Last June, Citrus College in California repealed its speech code after FIRE filed a lawsuit that challenged the college's policy limiting political demonstrations to designated areas on the campus.