Conservative professors aren’t held back at universities

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Conservative leaning professors may be a minority on university campuses, but they don’t face real discrimination in their workplace. 

In a New York Times article by Arthur C. Brooks, president of the conservative think tank American Enterprise Institute, argues that professors who hold conservative views are isolated on modern university campuses. 

Brooks raises a valid concern for the academic setting. If conservative voices are shut out of universities, students aren’t provided with diverse opinions that are necessary for academic debate and growth. 

Different political and ideological opinions among professors at universities are normal. University and college administrations can’t expect their employees to share one perspective. Instead, the danger lies in the moment when opinions affect how students are evaluated or make them feel unsafe in the classroom.

There’s a difference between allowing opposing opinions a platform to discuss their ideas in an academic setting and events leading to students or faculty feeling unsafe. 

When Brooks compares a perceived discrimination against conservative thinkers to gender discrimination on campus, he doesn’t acknowledge that women and racial minorities have experienced discrimination for decades on a systemic level. To equate the two is to cheapen the real issues that oppressed people still battle with today. 

Brooks states that conservative professors are “ideological strangers on the modern campus.” While his point is that conservative professors are alienated from the majority, he acknowledges that universities haven’t always been so “modern”.

Historically, conservative voices were the ones that had free reign in academia, and it’s only recently that more liberally-minded professors have gained traction in post-secondary education.

According to Brooks, conservative professors are the minority at progressive universities. Conservatism is opposed to the ideals of promoting change and challenging accepted truths that surround progressive universities. It makes sense that fewer conservatives would work in a field in which the status quo is challenged. 

The solution to promoting a positive debate culture at universities doesn’t rest on having more conservative professors. It’s considering different ideas and opinions when teaching classes, despite what one’s own opinions may be. Professors of all political alignments must teach all sides of contemporary issues and allow their students to decide what to think for themselves. 

— Journal Editorial Board

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