‘I’m a conservative, but my essays are very liberal’
A survey of 1,000 Republican and Republican-leaning college students has found that nearly three-quarters of them have withheld their political views in class for fear their grades would suffer.
The online poll was conducted in late August exclusively for The College Fix by College Pulse, an online survey and analytics company focused on college students. Only students who self-identify as Republican or Republican-leaning were polled.
The question asked: “Have you ever withheld your political views in class for fear that your grades would suffer?” Seventy-three percent of students who identity as “strong Republican” reported that they had, while 71 percent of students who identify as “weak Republican” said yes.
Even students who identify as Republican-leaning independents indicated they’ve kept quiet: 70 percent reported they have withheld their political views to protect their grades.
Most surveys over the years have found that academia is dominated by professors who identify as liberal or who are registered Democrats.
With that, The College Fix’s new poll results indicate that, under this atmosphere, a large majority of right-of-center students are concerned that openly disagreeing with their educators will have negative repercussions, with only about 30 percent responding they do not withhold their views.
In the comments section of the survey, where students have the option to weigh in on the topic after they’ve answered, several offered various anecdotes. Among them:
• CU Boulder: “You should be inclusive of everyone’s views.” “Ok maybe abortion is bad?” “No not like that.”
• Western Kentucky University: I wrote a 19 page research paper on a Christian pro-life movement. I was the only one in the class that, when presenting my paper, had a “surprise visitor” (who was the teacher’s very liberal friend) argue [with] me about their views. …
• Notre Dame: I actually got yelled at by a professor for my views on gun control. It wasn’t an argument or anything, just plain one-sided insulting.
• Clemson: When writing papers for gen ed classes? Absolutely. I know a guy who chose to write a pro-border wall argumentative essay for our super liberal professor and the prof just wrote “this whole paper is one big fallacy” and bombed him. Me? I wrote about the evils of horse racing. Perfectly safe topic.
• UCSD: Not for fear of a bad grade. But fear of being a social outcast.
• Penn State: “Well I actually have some different thoughts on that.” “Shut up you racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic piece of human garbage!”
• UMass Amherst: Weird how being forced to hide my libertarian views in class for years just sorta drove me underground and now I’m a hyper-authoritarian. Funny how that works.
• NC State: Why would I get myself killed to say I’m a libertarian in a philosophy class.
• Auburn: I have had grades affected when I didn’t withhold my views.
• University of Louisville: I am conservative. I would be crucified. I heard enough horror stories from friends and family to keep my mouth shut and avoid politics in class if at all possible.
• Kansas State: Professor the day after the presidential election kicked two students wearing MAGA hats out of class. I was appalled. We’re all people, if someone disagrees with you — love them anyways.
• Mizzou: I’m a conservative, but my essays are very liberal.
• Arizona State: In my sociology class, my professor asked us if we would give our child hormone blockers if they believed they were transgender (that was the day’s lesson). One guy said he would rather teach his daughter to love her body the way it is than change it. She [sat] straight up said “so you would be a bad parent then? What was your name again?” Then she went to type something on her computer. Not a good day for him, I’m sure.
• Oklahoma State: Suuuuper liberal government teacher who only showed Robert Reich documentaries. Wasn’t gonna speak my opinion around there.
• Alabama: Took a honors English class freshman year and I didn’t know the topic of the class until it started…feminism and sexuality in pop culture. If I had shared any of my opinions with that psychotic uber-liberal communist professor I guarantee she would have failed me.
Asked to weigh in on the survey results, American University senior Alec Schemmel told The College Fix he is not surprised by them.
“I deal with it every day, I see it every day,” said Schemmel, 25, a journalism and political science major. (He did not take the poll).
Schemmel, who earlier this year wrote an article for The College Fix, maintains a personal blog. On it, he chronicled his experience of receiving his first “C” grade at American in an interest groups and lobbying class during the spring semester because, he contends, his professor knew he is conservative and disagreed with his politics. His complaints to the dean over the issue were ultimately not resolved in his favor.
“I feel like I am alone in that I am the only person willing to speak up,” Schemmel told The Fix.
Some right-of-center activist groups on campuses across the nation attempt to connect like-minded students for support, networking, education and camaraderie outside the classroom. Among them: Young America’s Foundation, Turning Point USA, Intercollegiate Studies Institute, and the Network of enlightened Women, known as NeW.
Asked to weigh in on the survey, Karin Agness Lips, president of NeW, told The College Fix the results are sad but not surprising.
“We hear from students regularly that their campuses don’t foster intellectual diversity,” Lips said. “Professors and administrators should be encouraging an environment of free intellectual exchange, challenging students, not silencing them. This makes groups that provide an intellectual home for conservatives all the more important.”
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