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War against leftist bias rages on in California

The many California professors behind a nearly 90-page report detailing a litany of examples of leftist political bias by University of California educators continue to call for reform – and continually get shut down by the system’s leaders, who refuse to admit there is a problem.

The report, released in April and penned by the California Association of Scholars – which represents several hundred professors across the state – details how universities in general, and the University of California system’s 10 campuses in particular, are filled with radically politicized, socialist-leaning professors who teach students “what to think rather than how to think.”

The report cites a long list of studies, empirical data, anecdotal evidence, course descriptions, faculty surveys and other proof to support its conclusion that efforts to promote so-called social justice and Marxist views have replaced true higher learning and academic debate, largely in the social science and humanities departments.

But in the months since “A Crisis of Competence: The Corrupting Effect of Political Activism in the University of California” has been released, UC system leaders have continually denied there is a problem, said John Ellis, a retired UC Santa Cruz professor and president of the association.

In July, the system’s academic senate, which consists of faculty representatives from across the state, responded to the California Association of Scholars’ report in a one-page memo that stated “assertions … are made without data,” “anecdotes do not provide evidence of a systemic problem,” and “processes are in place to ensure all members of the campus community are able to engage in free expression.”

Ellis said that response is akin to foxes guarding the hen house.

More recently, a series of letters between UC President Mark Yudof and the association has commenced after two significant events at UCLA exposed more examples of perceived leftist bias.

“Both you and the academic senate have responded to the CAS report … insisting that UC does not have the problem of classroom politicization,” states an Oct. 4 letter from the association to Yudof. “Yet recently at UCLA, the senate’s committee on academic freedom went on record, unanimously, in support of an instructor’s right to use his or her class to pursue a political agenda. A unanimous senate committee indicates at a minimum that there is substantial faculty support for politicizing the classroom.”

The Oct. 4 letter also brought up UCLA’s blueprints to create a schooling program for students in the country illegally – with tuition costs far less than what mainstream students pay; an idea that was axed in September.

“We need hardly remind you that the recent ‘National Dream University’ plans at UCLA, cancelled by you after very hostile public reaction, provided further dramatic evidence that faculty feel free to use their publicly funded academic positions for political purposes,” the association’s letter states.

It ends by asking Yudof to amend his indifference to “A Crisis of Competence.”

Ellis said he’s not holding his breath.

In a Sept. 19 letter from Yudof to the association, the UC president only addressed the issues at UCLA, stating he believes they are best handled at the campus level and he has confidence in administrators and faculty there to address the issues appropriately.

“Yudof seems absolutely devoted to stonewalling and evading,” Ellis told The College Fix. “Yudof keeps insisting on doing nothing, which is disgraceful.”

Nevertheless, Ellis said he understands why.

“He has a terrible problem of politicization on his hands, everybody knows it,” Ellis said. “If he was to take seriously his duty as president to ensure the university is a place of integrity, he would have a tremendous fight on his hands.”

Ultimately, Ellis said, the association may have to take its fight to the UC regents, and encourage a grassroots campaign by residents to lobby politicians to pressure the board to address the issue spelled out in the report and make changes.

Meanwhile, Ellis said, the association is working on a rebuttal to the academic senate’s one-page response “which we think will make that paper look very silly indeed.”

Among the findings listed in “A Crisis of Competence,” anecdotal evidence includes: a UC Davis professor who cancelled an anthropology final exam and instead wrote anti-war and anti-American websites on the board and held a discussion on the war in Iraq; a computer science professor at Berkeley who frequently used his lectures to call former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger a Nazi and stated nothing Saddam Hussein has done could be any worse than what George Bush has done; and a sociology professor at UCSD who questioned whether the 9-11 attacks were terrorism or legitimate warfare, and stated Americans have no moral ground to condemn the attacks.

Bias could also be found in course descriptions, required readings and class load mandates. An American history course is not required for history majors at the UC Davis, Santa Cruz, Irvine, and San Diego campuses, and also at several campuses, students can graduate with a major in English literature without having read a word of Shakespeare, Chaucer or Milton, the report states.

What’s more, results of national faculty surveys found that for every eight professors who identified themselves as either left-leaning, Democrat or socialist, one professor identified themselves as conservative or Republican. In many cases, however, studies found the margins at UC campuses and elsewhere are often more close to 30:2.

Another survey found professors would be more inclined to hire a communist than a Republican.

Click here to read the full report.

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About the Author
Fix Editor
Jennifer Kabbany is editor-in-chief of The College Fix.