Opinion | Column


A large number of Duke professors have disregarded the basic tenets of academic freedom and abandoned their professional obligations. They indoctrinate students in their personal ideologies and prejudices and in so doing betray the very people who are supposed to be their paramount concern.

Further on in this column I will provide evidence documenting this widespread abuse.

But first let's set the context. A survey conducted of Duke's major humanities departments revealed that professors registered as Democrats outnumbered Republican professors by a staggering ratio of 18 to one.

This is because faculty choose to hire like-minded colleagues without regard for the principles of intellectual diversity, leading to a monolithic academic environment that severely compromises students' education.

From a statistical standpoint, the probability of having not a single Republican in the sociology, literature, anthropology, philosophy and history departments (as is the case at Duke) without a discriminatory hiring process is infinitesimal. Ironically, the same liberals who are outraged by former Senator Joseph McCarthy seem to have no problem with this informal blacklist.

The ideological prejudice of faculty members at Duke was made clear two years ago when then-chair of the philosophy department Robert Brandon explained the disparity by suggesting that conservatives were too stupid to be college professors.

In subsequent campus discussion Michael Munger recalled a party for new faculty at which assembled professors were told "since you've been hired at Duke, I'm sure that none of you is so foolish as to be conservative." Munger also relayed a chilling sentiment from one of his colleagues who said that "asking history to hire a conservative is exactly like asking biology to hire a creationist." Munger, one of Duke's most respected professors, added, "I think it's a widely shared view."

Even if these observations don't persuade you that a hiring bias exists, it doesn't change the fact the intellectual climate is radically one-sided and that this absence of diversity diminishes the value of a Duke education. The Duke community has become so accustomed to the skewed climate at our school that it's easy to ignore how shameful the situation actually is.

How is that a 21st-century, top-ranked American university has course after course based on the discredited doctrines of Karl Marx and other communist writers but lacks any courses in free market thinkers like Hayek and von Mises who successfully refuted those theories and predicted the fall of communism? Where are the literature or anthropology or women's studies courses that provide students with the conservative critics of Marxism, feminism, post-modernism and other leftist doctrines?

This isn't an education-it is a form of political advocacy and indoctrination, which is unprofessional and violates the tenets of academic freedom by which universities like Duke claim to be guided.

If you are skeptical that indoctrination is practiced at Duke, consider this small sample of student testimonies on professional misconduct:

[The following all refer to professors in the departments in brackets.]

"You have to write according to her beliefs. She pushes her interpretations onto you, and you must regurgitate them to do well." [Literature, Writing 20 course]

"Not a very open-minded person (especially if you are Christian)" [Religion]

".obsessed with sex and 'gender identity'" [English]

".holds self-centered, homosexual-centered discussions in class" [English]

".has the odd habit of suddenly accusing random students of harboring dark motives" [Cultural anthropology]

".thinks he's Engels" [Literature]

"She's a borderline communist. She doesn't know anything about economics either. Hopefully she gets fired. Do not take one of her classes." [Freshman writing course]

"I went into this class expecting to learn about political situations in China-policy, government structure, political tensions, etc. Instead, we watched representative Chinese cinema and had liberal artsy talks about objectification of women." [Cultural anthropology]

"Awful teacher, I didn't learn anything in the class. Our 'discussions' consisted of his one-sided, anti-capitalist rants, and he never lets anyone seriously present alternative viewpoints. One redeeming quality: You can BS the whole way through; just use the phrase 'hegemonic discourse' a lot." [Literature]

In the next two weeks, before David Horowitz comes to campus, Students for Academic Freedom will make more of these abuses public.

Horowitz, founder of Students for Academic Freedom, has written a new book, The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America, which includes profiles of two Duke professors and vividly documents the desertion of professional ethics and academic principles by university faculties across the country.

When professors use their authority to advance partisan agendas in the classroom, to foist their ideologies and prejudices onto those they instruct, to penalize anyone who dissents from their views-when they replace education with indoctrination-it is a betrayal of their students, their profession and the society that entrusts them with this great responsibility.

Stephen Miller is a Trinity junior and president of the Duke chapter of Students for Academic Freedom. His column runs every other Wednesday.