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Only 7 percent of Yale professors identify as conservative, survey finds

Campus faculty politics tilt overwhelmingly progressive; almost three-quarters identify as liberal

A new survey conducted by a student newspaper has revealed a staggering political divide among the faculty members of one of the nation’s most elite universities.

The Yale Daily News put a startling number on liberal predominance in a survey of the prestigious university’s faculty. Of the 314 respondents, a mere 7 percent identified as conservative, with only 2 percent saying they were “very conservative.” In contrast, nearly three-quarters identified as liberal or very liberal.

Speaking with with The News, Yale President Peter Salovey said the results were “neither positive nor negative.”

“It’s in the educational interest of students to be exposed to a diversity of political viewpoints… Having said that, in most fields, the political point of view of a faculty member is not relevant to the substance of their teaching, and so we would need to be very careful about making it a part of the hiring process for faculty,” Salovey told The News.

Salovey has, however, declared that Yale’s largely white faculty represents the “single biggest problem” the university faces; and in 2015 the school pledged to spend more than $50 million to increase the racial makeup of the faculty, according to The News.

The College Fix reached out to Yale for comment. Campus spokeswoman Karen Peart directed The Fix to Salovey’s remarks to The Daily News.

Reached for comment via email, Aryssa Damron, an “outed conservative” student at Yale and a reporter for The College Fix, said she has witnessed professors inject their politics into classroom discussions, “including having one professor compare Republicans to followers of Lord Voldemort.”

However, she wrote, “I know I am lucky that I’ve never had my grade impacted by my political leanings, and I believe that while teachers may be apt to discuss their own politics, they don’t punish dissidence among students.”

Meanwhile, certain professors at the university are not pleased with the findings, The News found.

“We talk about diversity in every area of the University except the one that counts, and that’s intellectual diversity,” political science professor Steven Smith told The News.

David Gelertner, a professor of computer science at Yale who made headlines earlier this year when his name was floated as President Trump’s science adviser, expanded on what he views is the problem with a largely liberal faculty in an email to The News: “Students who leave the academic world run a chance, at least, of discovering new approaches to the world and turning conservative…But those who stay within academia tend to keep thinking what they’ve been taught to think.”

The Fix reached out for comment to five different professors at Yale: Gelertner, Dirk Bergemann and Donald Andrews of the economics department, Jessica Brantley in the English department, and Katherine Baldwin from the political science department. None of them responded.

Damron said that she has found her liberal professors allow debate in the classroom.

“I’ve also had professors specifically tell me they are happy to have my voice and point of view speaking up in class,” she told The Fix, “because it allows for an actual discussion of ideas instead of simply an echo-chamber of liberal ideas.”

Other results of the survey depicted Yale faculty’s liberal leanings in terms of views on policy: Nearly 90 percent of respondents oppose the Trump administration, and agree that climate change is caused by human activity; and a further 70 percent believe that New Haven should remain a sanctuary city.

The humanities department had the greatest concentration of liberal faculty at nearly 90 percent, while the social sciences came in at 68 percent, and the STEM fields at 65 percent.

MORE: Liberal professors outnumber conservatives 28-to-1 in region known for Ivy League

MORE: Liberal academic: My colleagues don’t think ‘conservatives should feel welcome on campus

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About the Author
Andrew Johnson is a first year graduate student studying physics at the University of Denver. He is an avid reader and rock climber who enjoys advancing the cause of liberty in his free time.

Add to the Discussion

  • KillGoogleandFacebook

    Considering this is Yale we’re referencing the 7 are Mensheviks to everyone else being Bolsheviks.

  • Rowenna

    Professors should not be allowed to bring their personal politics into their teaching regardless of their subject. In subject’s that require discussion of political topics then the teacher should be encouraging the students to think through the arguments and where there is no natural split within the class to step up and play devil’s advocate etc.

    The best teachers are those who students can spend a whole year debating and still leave the class wondering what the teachers politics are. Of course that would also mean curtailing the teacher’s public social media activity but do they want to teach or indoctrinate?

  • Gregale

    I went to Yale, and I’ve been active in alumni affairs for a few decades. Frankly, I’m surprised the number is as high as 7%. Even with STEM faculty, it is extremely rare to hear a faculty member express a position that might be construed as conservative. I’ve personally only heard two STEM profs do so in thirty years; one was Gelertner, and the other did so in private with a “if this ever gets out, my career is over” caveat. On the other hand, extreme leftist opinions are heard all the time.