We know that the the vast majority of college professors are on the left. Cass R. Sunstein, who at various times in his career has been a professor, is discussing a recent survey of faculty:
A few months ago, Mitchell Langbert, an associate professor of business at Brooklyn College, published a study of the political affiliations of faculty members at 51 of the 66 liberal-arts colleges ranked highest by U.S. News in 2017.
Of course, it comes up with the expected results that almost everyone, everywhere is a Democrat. Cass says they don’t really mean it:
Such discrimination might take the form of unconscious devaluation of people whose views do not fit with the dominant perspective. For example, young historians who cast Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal in a terrible light might not get a lot of job offers.
And says it only matters sometimes:
It is true that in some fields, political affiliations do not matter. In chemistry, math, physics and engineering, students should not care about the party affiliations of their professors. Sure, it’s conceivable that Democratic chemistry professors want to hire fellow Democrats. But that would be surprising. In all likelihood, they are looking for good chemistry professors.
He is wrong on both counts. What is disappointing is that he has been in academia but did not seem to pay attention to the influence of faculty.
They, the folks on the left, mean it. They set up curriculum, e.g., Woman’s Studies, and courses, e.g., Women and The US Economy, to attract fellow travelers. Research works the same way as they create outlets for these areas. Accreditation and hiring senior administrators happens in a similar manner.
Political affiliation matters in every field for at least three reasons. First, folks on the left need the support of all faculty to create a leftist environment. All faculty are involved in running the university. Curriculum, courses, outside speakers, and senior administrators are largely to entirely selected by faculty. Second, a big part of picking faculty is collegiality. Of the folks that can do the job who do you want to spend the next twenty years with? This is another way they do it on purpose. Third, the scientists don’t just talk about science in classes. Students should, as Cass says, be exposed to the joys of markets as well as market failure. We commonly heard about the latter when scientists made research proposals at the university level. We are certain that those comments made it to the classroom too.
We are glad that Cass recognizes that the political tilt of academia is a problem. We wish he realized how serious it really is.