SURVEY REVEALS PERVASIVE POLITICAL PRESSURE IN THE CLASSROOM · 05 December 2004

Contact: Anne D. Neal or Barry Latzer, 202-467-6787

SURVEY REVEALS PERVASIVE POLITICAL PRESSURE IN THE CLASSROOM

Students: 49% Report Professors Preach Rather Than Teach

Washington, DC (November 30, 2004) -- 49% of the students at the top 50 colleges and universities say professors frequently inject political comments into their courses, even if they have nothing to do with the subject. Almost one-third-29%-feel they have to agree with the professor's political views to get a good grade.

A survey commissioned by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni reveals the politicization of the classroom and the intellectual intolerance of faculty.

According to the survey:

48% report campus presentations on political issues that "seem totally one-sided."
46% say professors "use the classroom to present their personal political views."
42% of students fault reading assignments for presenting only one side of a controversial issue.
The survey also indicates that political comments are consistently partisan. The survey, which was conducted just before and after the American presidential election, found that 68% of the students reported negative remarks in class about Pres. George Bush while 62% said professors praised Sen. John Kerry.

"Students pay hefty tuition to get an education, not to hear some professors' pet political views," said Anne Neal, president of ACTA. "When politics is relevant, multiple perspectives should be presented. The classroom should be a place where students are free to explore different points of view. They should not feel they will be penalized if they think for themselves."

The ACTA survey was conducted in late October and early November by the Center for Survey Research & Analysis at the University of Connecticut at the 50 colleges and universities top-ranked by U.S. News & World Report. List attached.

The survey shows that college and university faculty are biased: 74% of students said professors made positive remarks about liberals while 47% reported negative comments about conservatives. A substantial majority-83 %-said that student evaluations administered by the college did not ask about a professor's political biases.

The survey comes in the wake of a number of studies that have shown that party registrations of college professors are overwhelmingly one-sided. Last week, the Princeton, NJ-based National Association of Scholars released a study showing that the ratio of Democrats to Republicans at some top-50 schools is as high as 9 to 1.

American Association of University Professors president Roger W. Bowen called the NAS study "wrongheaded" and stated that political affiliations of professors are of little consequence in the classroom.

"The ACTA survey clearly shows that faculty are injecting politics into the classroom in ways that students believe infringe upon their freedom to learn," said Neal.

ACTA opposes legislative intervention and is preparing guidelines for trustees and administrators on how best to ensure intellectual diversity and tolerance on our college and university campuses.

"The lack of intellectual diversity on our college campuses is clearly a problem," said Neal. "We believe boards of trustees have the responsibility to ensure that students are exposed to a free and open exchange of ideas and are encouraged to think for themselves."

The ACTA survey has an error rate of plus or minus four. The majority of students surveyed majored in subjects like biology, engineering and psychology-subjects that have nothing to do with politics. Referenced survey questions are available upon request.

ACTA is a nonprofit educational organization based in Washington, DC, and dedicated to academic freedom, academic quality, and accountability. It is located at 1726 M Street, N.W., Suite 802, Washington, DC 20036. For further information, contact ACTA at 202-467-6787 or at aneal@goacta.org.

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Top 50 Schools Surveyed


A total of 658 randomly selected students from the top 25 National Universities and top 25 National Liberal Arts Colleges, as defined by U.S. News & World Report, were interviewed for this survey. Because of ties in the rankings, a total of 26 National Universities were included in the sample.


National Universities

1. Harvard University
Princeton University
3. Yale University
4. University of Pennsylvania
Duke University
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Stanford University
8. California Institute of Technology
9. Columbia University
Dartmouth College
11. Northwestern University
Washington University in St. Louis
13. Brown University
14. Cornell University
Johns Hopkins University
University of Chicago
17. Rice University
18. University of Notre Dame
Vanderbilt University
20. Emory University
21. University of California-Berkeley
22. Carnegie Mellon University
University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
University of Virginia
25. Georgetown University (DC)
University of California-Los Angeles
National Liberal Arts Colleges

1. Williams College
2. Amherst College
Swarthmore College
4. Wellesley College
5. Carleton College
Pomona College
7. Bowdoin College
Davidson College
9. Haverford College
Wesleyan University
11. Middlebury College
12. Vassar College
13. Claremont McKenna College
Smith College
Washington and Lee University16. Colgate University
Grinnell College
Harvey Mudd College
19. Colby College
Hamilton College
21. Bryn Mawr College
22. Bates College
23. Oberlin College
24. Mount Holyoke College
Trinity College

ACTA COLLEGE STUDENTS SURVEY

Conducted by the Center for Survey Research & Analysis at the University of Connecticut

October 26 - November 7, 2004

A total of 658 randomly selected students from the top 25 National Universities and top 25 National Liberal Arts Colleges, as defined by U.S. News & World Report, were interviewed for this survey. See ACTA press release for a listing of schools surveyed. Because of ties in the rankings, a total of 26 National Universities were included in the sample. The survey has an error rate of plus or minus four.

On my campus, some professors frequently comment on politics in class even though it has nothing to do with the course.

Strongly agree 14%

Somewhat agree 35%

Somewhat disagree 26%

Strongly disagree 24%

Don?t know 1%

Refused 0%

On my campus, there are courses in which students feel they have to agree with the professor?s political or social views in order to get a good grade.

Strongly agree 7%

Somewhat agree 22%

Somewhat disagree 22%

Strongly disagree 46%

Don?t know 3%

Refused 0%

On my campus, some panel discussions and presentations on political issues seem totally one-sided.

Strongly agree 15%

Somewhat agree 33%

Somewhat disagree 24%

Strongly disagree 23%

Don?t Know 5%

Refused 0%

On my campus, some professors use the classroom to present their personal political views.

Strongly agree 10%

Somewhat agree 36%

Somewhat disagree 24%

Strongly disagree 29%

Don?t know 1%

Refused 0%

On my campus, some courses have readings which present only one side of a controversial issue.

Strongly agree 12%

Somewhat agree 30%

Somewhat disagree 26%

Strongly disagree 28%

Don?t know 5%

Refused 0%

On my campus, some professors make negative comments about President Bush in class.

Strongly agree 26%

Somewhat agree 42%

Somewhat disagree 16%

Strongly disagree 14%

Don?t know 2%

On my campus, some professors make positive comments about President Bush in class.

Strongly agree 3%

Somewhat agree 24%

Somewhat disagree 34%

Strongly disagree 34%

Don?t know 4%

Refused 0%

On my campus, some professors make negative comments about Senator Kerry in class.

Strongly agree 1%

Somewhat agree 16%

Somewhat disagree 32%

Strongly disagree 47%

Don?t know 3%

On my campus, some professors make positive comments about Senator Kerry in class.

Strongly agree 16%

Somewhat agree 46%

Somewhat disagree 19%

Strongly disagree 13%

Don?t know 6%

Refused 0%

On my campus, some professors make positive comments in class about liberals.

Strongly agree 27%

Somewhat agree 47%

Somewhat disagree 13%

Strongly disagree 10%

Don?t know 3%

Refused 0%

On my campus, some professors make negative comments in class about liberals.

Strongly agree 1%

Somewhat agree 14%

Somewhat disagree 34%

Strongly disagree 49%

Don?t know 2%

On my campus, some professors make negative comments in class about conservatives.

Strongly agree 11%

Somewhat agree 36%

Somewhat disagree 29%

Strongly disagree 22%

Don?t know 2%

Refused 0%

On my campus, some professors make positive comments in class about conservatives.

Strongly agree 3%

Somewhat agree 31%

Somewhat disagree 38%

Strongly disagree 23%

Don?t know 5%

Refused 0%

Do the student evaluation forms of the faculty ask about a professor's social, political, or religious bias?

Yes 3%

No 83%

Don?t know 14%

Refused 0%

How would you describe your views? Radical left, Liberal, Moderate, Conservative, or Ultraconservative?

Radical Left 5%

Liberal 46%

Moderate 33%

Conservative 13%

Ultraconservative 0%

Don?t know 2%

Refused 1%

What is your major?

Agriculture 0%

Anthropology 1%

Biological Sciences 10%

Biophysics 0%

Business 6%

Chemistry 2%

Classical Studies 1%

Communications/Sciences 1%

Cultural Studies 2%

Economics 7%

Education 1%

Engineering 8%

English 5%

Environmental Science 1%

European Studies 0%

Fine Arts 4%

Geography 0%

Geology and Geophysics 0%

History 4%

Human Development

and Family Relations 1%

Journalism 0%

Linguistics 0%

Mathematics 1%

Nursing 0%

Philosophy 1%

Physics 2%

Physiology and Neurobiology 2%

Political Science 11%

Psychology 5%

Sociology 2%

Women?s Studies 0%

Undecided/Undeclared 5%

Foreign Languages 1%

Computer Sciences 2%

International Relations/Studies 1%

Other (specify) 3%

Don?t know (vol.) 7%

Refused (vol.) 0%