Austin: My Alma Mater Made Headlines for Discriminating Against Conservatives - I'm Not Surprised
On Aug. 17, a student whistleblower revealed that an English professor at Iowa State University was discriminating against conservative students.
On her English 250 syllabus, Professor Chloe Clark warned students not to question abortion or Black Lives Matter lest they be removed from the class for promoting “racism” or “sexism.”
After Young America’s Foundation published the screen shots, the story was picked up by numerous conservative outlets and university officials were pressured into apologizing. The university also shared that Clark had been forced to amend her syllabus to better reflect the free speech values that the school purports to stand for.
As a former student at Iowa State University, I was not surprised by Clark’s anti-conservative syllabus. In my opinion, it fell in line with what I had seen in the English department.
It’s important to note up front that I loved many of my teachers at Iowa State. The few of them I knew personally were great instructors who truly cared about their students.
All that being said, I never once felt like I could truly share my Christian conservative beliefs.
In various English courses meant to help students acquire professional writing skills, I was also taught about systemic racism and how America was built on slavery.
My classes covered critical theory, queer theory, environmental justice, intersectional feminism and post-modernism, along with various other social justice ideologies.
Several moments from my time in these classes stuck out to me, like when a professor explained to my class, in detail, why abortion needs to be considered a human right. I also remember professors in multiple classes subtly suggesting President Reagan was an incompetent racist. In one class, it was even posited that traditional family structures are a sign of whiteness.
These topics were not up for debate; they were built straight into the courses themselves.
Arguing against those ideas would be utterly counterproductive. If I wanted to earn a passing grade, I couldn’t argue that the entire course syllabus was filled with ideological opinions that I personally disagreed with.
In those “English” classes, we didn’t read many of the greatest authors in American history. Instead, we covered an amalgamation of writings from a diverse set of authors, most of whom represented different races, genders and sexual orientations.
The selection of readings was not based on the best American history had to offer, nor was it based on the writings that had the most cultural influence.
It seemed to be the case that authors were chosen simply based on immutable characteristics.
I wanted to become a better writer, not a social justice warrior.
This experience is not just true for Iowa State’s English department; it’s true for universities in general.
Conservative professors were never equally represented in American colleges, but now things are worse than they have ever been.
In 1969, 27 percent of college professors in America were conservative, according to National Affairs. By 1999, that number had dropped to 12 percent.
Today, while conservatives make up 27 percent of economics professors, they account for only 2 percent of faculty in political science departments, 4 percent in philosophy departments, 7 percent in history departments and 3 percent in literature departments.
The reason for this decline is evidenced in my experiences with left-wing professors.
Conservatives believe in performance. This leads conservative professors to generally hire the best person for the job, whether they agree with that person or not.
Progressives believe in activism. Political activism is higher on their list of values than competency. If activism is more important than teaching, you’re going to hire activists who fall in line with your political ideology.
Over time, this means that although conservatives often hire progressives, progressives rarely, if ever, hire conservatives, slowly removing any diversity of thought from our universities.
In the digital age that we find ourselves in today, I could have gained all of the necessary writing skills online without ever having to sit through all of the social justice moralizing.
If I could do it all over again, I wouldn’t go to college.
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