To the editor: Conservatives not under attack at colleges

It is the conservatives themselves who are excluding themselves from academia.

Sun, 09 Aug 2020 04:00:00 GMT

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I see that right-wing pundits have returned to their complaints about liberal bias in academia. The latest example is David Brooks’ column “The future of noncomformity” that appeared in The Blade on July 27, in which he claims that conservatives are underrepresented in America’s universities and blames this on “the exclusion of conservatives from academic life.”

I have served on dozens of search and promotion committees in my 30-plus years as a faculty member at the University of Toledo, and I can assure you that political orientation has never been brought up in our deliberations.

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A more likely explanation for the shortage of conservatives in academia is self-selection. Imagine you’re a young conservative college student who is keen on obtaining a high-paying job. You are going to want to major in a professional school — business, engineering, pharmacy, etc. — rather than major in one of the liberal arts where high-paying jobs are scarce. Hence, you eventually find yourself working in the business sector.

In contrast, imagine you’re a young liberal college student interested in the life of the mind, with no real desire to get rich. Now you are going to want to major in a more scholarly field and are more likely to find yourself in academia, because there are not many jobs in the private sector that require deep knowledge of English or history.

This is why, just as liberals are the majority of our nation’s university faculty, conservatives are the majority of members of Fortune 500 corporate boards. In other words, it is the conservatives themselves who are excluding themselves from academia.


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