The dispute as to whether liberal bias on campus exists has become, pardon the pun, academic. Last year, the Duke Conservative Union crosschecked their school’s faculty listings against voter registration rolls and found the ratio of Democrats to Republicans was 32-0 in the History department, 11-0 in Literature, and 18-1 in English. Sadly, these breakdowns are typical of liberal academia.
Campus conservatives know who to watch out for: deans, provosts, professors…professors who happen to be Democrat congressmen. The only job more fulfilling than teaching liberalism is legislating it, right Dr. Price? (US Rep. David Price (D-NC) is a member of the Political Science department at Duke University.)
However, too few are aware of the growing support network available to abused, conservative students. The first line of defense is always on campus. Conservative student publications like Berkeley’s California Patriot or UNC’s Carolina Review have given a voice to the next generation of conservative leadership. Religious, Republican, and Libertarian student organizations allow campus conservatives to coalesce; there’s truth to the old adage of strength in numbers.
When I entered Duke Law at the age of 19 and found societies for Democrats, gays and trial lawyers, but none for Republicans, I asked my friend and fellow Belmont Abbey alum Patrick McHenry (now the youngest member of Congress) how to cope. He recommended that I join the College Republicans, and so I did. I never regretted my decision. Ever since James Francis Burke, a 24-year-old law student, joined with his colleagues at the University of Michigan to found the College Republicans in 1892, our organization has served as a bulwark against the worst abuses of liberal academia.
That said, most students are fleeting members of the campus community. Professors and administrators spend a lifetime in the ivory tower. When the time comes to take a stand, the Stalinists have home team advantage. They also have years of experience in quieting their opposition. When bias gives way to outright discrimination, campus conservatives need to call for backup.
To quote Justice Louis Brandeis, “Sunlight is the best disinfectant.” Most bullies, liberal or conservative, are cowards. The average card-carrying member of liberal academia would love to indoctrinate the next generation, but fears exposure. As such, student protests, coupled with a little media attention, can work wonders on any campus. Unlike the old days, when hippies ruled the world, some news outlets will give a fair and balanced look at instances of college abuse. For instance, Fox News Channel’s Brit Hume has been known to televise the protests of campus conservatives, even airing the aforementioned study by the Duke Conservative Union.
Beyond getting a fair shake with Fox News, campus conservatives have advocates in the media. Organizations like Accuracy in Academia were founded to return higher education to its traditional mission of seeking and teaching the unbiased truth. Led by Executive Director Mal Kline, Accuracy in Academia produces Campus Report, a monthly newsletter aimed at publicizing political bias in education. Just contacting Kline can put liberal academia on notice.
Sometimes big names are needed to draw the media’s attention. Believe it or not, there are public figures that care enough to get involved. A shining example on Capitol Hill is US Rep. Walter B. Jones (R-NC). While pushing for legislation to end liberal bias on campus, Jones has been instrumental in protecting the First Amendment rights of campus conservatives across North Carolina. He challenged one occurrence of discrimination after another at UNC, bringing national attention to the continuing abuse.
David Horowitz, Editor-in-Chief of FrontPageMag.com, has also been a strong, if controversial, ally to campus conservatives. A radical Leftist before converting to conservatism, Horowitz became famous arguing against ‘reparations’ for slavery. Today, he is best known for fighting campus speech codes and advocating his Academic Bill of Rights (proposed legislation that explicitly prohibits political discrimination on campus). Working with state Sen. John Andrews (R-CO), Horowitz virtually forced the University of Colorado system to adopt his Academic Bill of Rights.
Dr. Christina Jeffrey, president of the South Carolina Association of Scholars, is another must-know conservative. No stranger to liberal bias in any forum, academic or otherwise, Jeffrey rose to the position of U.S. House Historian under the auspices of then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA). Shortly thereafter, she was the victim of vicious attacks from liberal U.S. Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA), who falsely accused the conservative educator of being an anti-Semite. Fired for political convenience, Jeffrey has long been vindicated. She returned to her career as a professor and became a leader in the movement to end liberal bias on campus. Currently, Jeffrey is working to create a foundation in Charlotte, N.C., to protest liberal academia and advocate reform.
Even with media coverage and powerful pundits lobbying on your behalf, sometimes the Stalinists won’t back down. Perhaps your protest was too successful and injured your professor’s pride or reputation. Perhaps your dean just refuses to admit a mistake, regardless of how bad the press is. Either way, campus conservatives can do a lot more than simply embarrass bigoted academics. Thanks, in part, to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), students can respond to the most egregious cases of liberal bias by resorting to the courts. Led by President David French, FIRE has successfully challenged countless campus speech codes and cases of liberal harassment.
If all else fails, you may need to give French a call and remind your professor that no one is above the law.
John T. Plecnik is a 21-year-old law student at Duke University.