Campus debates about diversity usually revolve around racial and sexual diversity, with political diversity overlooked, reported a radio program with the CBC Radio One’s Ideas entitled the Politics of the Professoriate. I was very pleased the Virginia Tech Community Principles identifies “political affiliation” as one dimension against which the university rejects prejudice or discrimination. Here is the full text. “We reject all forms of prejudice and discrimination, including those based on age, color, disability, gender, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, and veteran status.”
A few reports I read on the topic of political diversity, however, were concerning. Including the aforementioned radio program, they report that there is a left-leaning/liberal dominance in the professoriate, especially in terms of political affiliation. In a 2012 article, the American Association of University Professors published an article written by a professor. He reported that republicans/right-leaning professors are in the minority. His also reported that his research showed that majority of them do not experience mistreatment by their colleagues. This is good news but the fact that they are in the minority is not. There is something else that is troubling. The article mentions peer reviews for publication might present challenges for right-leaning scholars by reviewer pools dominated by those who align themselves left-of-center. According to the article, right-leaning scholars’ work might be scrutinized more than their left-leaning counterparts. An article recently published by the National Association of Scholars reported that in 51 of the 60 top liberal arts colleges and universities, most professors are Democrats. The article points out, “Political homogeneity is problematic because it biases research and teaching and reduces academic credibility.”
After reading these articles and listening to the radio program, you might have questions about how these conclusions are arrived at and even with the use of the terms Democrat, Republican, left-leaning, and right-leaning. Or many other issues about the studies these articles reference. The bottom line is the following: diversity in political affiliation is important for universities. Diversity benefits us all. As the Virginia Tech Community Principle states, diversity enriches our lives and the universities. Lack of it deprives us. The articles above highlight two problems that can arise when there is lack of it, discrimination and bias.
So when it comes to political affiliation of the professoriate, how do we diversify? This is the question I would like to raise in the next class.