Liberal Bias Against Campus Conservatives · 31 May 2004

By John Plecnik--ChronWatch.com, 05/31/04

In the past year, scandal after scandal has plagued the administration of North Carolina's colleges and universities. The epidemic of academic bias against campus conservatives has finally reached such unacceptable levels that the national media has begun to take notice.

After University of North Carolina students protested being assigned ''Nickel and Dimed,'' the work of a self-avowed socialist, many thought the UNC system would have to respond. However, this academic year has brought little or no meaningful reform. Instead, alumni and students alike were blindsided by even more blatant acts of anti-conservative bias.

At UNC-Wilmington, the administration retracted the university's official recognition of their resident College Republican chapter. This retraction denied the CRs their status as a student organization and all school funding. The leadership at UNC-Wilmington voiced only one justification for abolishing the CRs. They accused the CRs of discriminating against other political parties by limiting their membership to Republicans. Some faculty even accused their conservative pupils of Klan-like bigotry. One professor labeled the CRs as anti-Catholic. This was most ironic, considering that the current CR chairman, Michael Pomarico, was himself a Catholic.

With help from one conservative faculty member, Dr. Mike Adams, the CRs managed to embarrass the university into returning their official status. Apparently, a significant segment of the school's alumni were not pleased.

At UNC, a religious, Christian student was lambasted by his professor in a class-wide e-mail for expressing his personal view that homosexuality is immoral. Having objected to the proposition that heterosexual men are intimidated by gays in a class discussion, the young UNC-goer was labeled as a sexist bigot. Thankfully, Congressman Walter Jones of North Carolina's 3rd District heard about the incident over the radio. He was horrified and immediately came to the hapless student's defense. After Jones met with UNC's chancellor, the offending professor was assigned a supervisor for all her classes to ensure a free and responsible dialogue. While some remedy was granted, is there any doubt that the professor would have been fired had she attacked a liberal student for asserting that homosexuality is acceptable?

An explosion of conservative activism at Duke has also exposed a similar liberal bias at the South's most elite university. When the Duke Conservative Union (DCU) revealed the political makeup of the university's humanities departments, most were not surprised to learn that more professors were Democrat than Republican. However, many were shocked to find that there were more unaffiliated professors than Republicans. Most notably, the history department lacked a single Republican scholar.

Even so, the national media failed to pick up on the story before certain professors provided their reaction to the DCU's study. The chairman of Duke's philosophy department, Robert Brandon, issued a statement which basically asserted that most stupid people are conservative, and thusly, there are not enough qualified conservatives available to balance an elite program's faculty. Prominent newspapers, politicians, and Fox News finally had a story worth telling. However, the only reaction from Brandon and the Duke administration was a posting of some vague, unapologetic speeches on the university's homepage.

Faced with unrepentant, liberal administrators at both public and private institutions, North Carolina scholars continue to cry out for vindication and reform. The most recent answer to this outcry was provided by Robert E. ''Whit'' Whitfield, a congressional candidate for the 4th District of North Carolina. In his race against incumbent Democrat David Price, a tenured Duke professor, the Durham lawyer hosted the ''Campus Abuse Conference for Free Speech'' early this May. Scholars and students from across the country gathered in Durham to discuss academia's chronic liberal bias.

To name a few institutions that were represented, UNC, Virginia State University, Monroe Community College, Kennesaw State University, and Central Connecticut University all had students or faculty present at the conference. Notable attendees included the chairman of Duke's political science department, Michael Munger, Congressman Walter Jones, and former state chairman of the North Carolina Federation of College Republicans, Michael McKnight. I was honored to participate in the conference, and still more pleased to present our host, ''Whit'' Whitfield, with the official endorsement of the Duke College Republicans.

The event's coordinator and participants are reportedly considering the formation of a new, national organization to prevent ''college abuse'' against conservative students and faculty. A recap of the conference may be found on www.whitforcongress.com and a temporary site has been erected for the potential organization at www.collegeabuse.com.

I encourage all campus conservatives to consider the continuing controversies in North Carolina. Awareness is the first condition for real reform, and the need for reform is nationwide.

John Plecnik is a law student at Duke University and executive editor of The Devil's Advocate.