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Politically polarized universities alienate Republicans, professor says
Samuel Abrams


‘Those on the right are increasingly disliked and viewed as enemies when they are on campuses today,’ political science professor says

About twice as many Democrats as Republicans “strongly agree” that public four-year colleges and universities are “for people like me,” according to a new survey.

Forty-four percent of Democrats surveyed “strongly agreed” that public four-year colleges and universities are for people like them, according to Varying Degrees 2023, the nonprofit New America’s seventh annual higher education survey.

Only 21 percent of surveyed Republicans “strongly agreed.”

Sarah Lawrence College political science Professor Samuel Abrams said he believes the findings are in part due to political polarization.

Polarization “is the phenomenon where individuals’ feelings and emotions towards members of their own political party or group become more positive, while their feelings towards members of the opposing party or group become more negative,” Abrams told The College Fix via email.

Because of left-leaning polarization in colleges and universities, “those on the right are increasingly disliked and viewed as enemies when they are on campuses today,” said Abrams, a fellow at the right-leaning American Enterprise Institute.

“Professors and administrators are among the most engaged, politically active members of society,” Abrams said. “They tend to be left-of-center and extremely progressive.”

The Fix reached out to New America, the nonprofit behind the survey, to ask why results are so polarized along political affiliation and whether this corresponds to other research they have done. The nonprofit responded but has not yet provided comment.

There are “many potential answers” to the question of promoting intellectual and political diversity in schools, Abrams said.

First, colleges and universities “need to knock down diversity, equity, and inclusion offices which are little more than political offices pushing a leftist agenda,” he wrote.

Second, schools “need to actually demonstrate a real commitment to open debate and viewpoint diversity,” he said.

Schools should “make sure that there is a diversity of programs that represent a plethora of views on campus and ensure that students can openly question and probe ideas that some may find objectionable.”

As Abrams said: “Schools can make strong public statements and positions that support free speech and then actually defend speech by pushing back against the forces which try to intimidate speech and silence dissent.”

New America, which authored the survey, is a Washington, D.C.-based policy research nonprofit that “put[s] equity at the center” of every part of its work, according to its website.

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IMAGE: American Enterprise Institute

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About the Author
College Fix contributor Tate Miller is a student at Liberty University studying journalism. She is the founder Thatsasnap Productions, a photography business launched in 2018.