Political Intollerance in College, real or imagined?

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posted on Jul, 30 2006 @ 01:07 AM
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I ran out to get a few things tonight, and while I was at it I put on a conservative talk radio station that hosts Rush Limbaugh and others (actually I turned it on because if I'd been out for another 20 minutes I would have caught the news on Coast to Coast AM). But I was too early, and instead I get a pair of the station's resident politicos taking phone calls from students who believe that liberal professors have discriminated against them.

As a sometimes-conservative college student, I was not an incredibly sympathetic listener. I have noted that professors do tend to be quite liberal at my school. Maybe I'm the luckiest guy on Earth, but I've never had a problem voicing my true beliefs with them.

Most of them are thrilled to death that I'm not scared of them and will give me the floor as much as time permits when I want to fill in the other side of an issue. I'm sometimes surprised by how much they'll let me get away with. As long as my timing is right and I'm not intensely disrespectful I can crack jokes at their ideas and flat out call them on trying to BS the class.

I can argue against gun control and they are fine with that. They pull out the "what about tanks, artillery, or nukes" card and I explain exactly why I should be able to have all of those things.

I can argue against gay marriage (though I've adopted a middle-ground position which ticks off both conservatives and liberals) and although I got a whole page of questions and challenges I also got a perfect score along with it (and then engaged in a month long email debate over those challenges, and got the better end of it)

I even wrote a devil's advocate paper for a critical thinking final that not only defended the war in Iraq but advocated invading another 5 nations, and did it all while conceding that it had nothing to do with terrorism.

Several of my professors have vowed to run against me if I ever run for office, and one of them suggested that I might not really be joking about having a Napoleonic view of foreign relations, but they are all friendly towards me and give me an A.


Back to the radio program. One girl felt she was discriminated against because she was charged with plagiarism and asked to annotate her paper to elaborate on sources and how she drew some conclusions. It was obviously because the paper was about gender roles and the professor was a lesbian. Last time I checked, it was absolutely standard to provide intext citations of your bibliography, and college students are abso-tively poso-lutely friggin notorious for regurgitating sources they don't entirely understand.

My own experiences lead me to believe that people welcome the chance to feel persecuted in lieu of accepting their weaknesses, and that the bias, which does exist, is not necessarily intended as intimidation and does not necessarily manifest as discrimination.

Conservative students, if you're here, I don't think you're getting in trouble for thinking like the people in the conservative media; you're in trouble for arguing like them. There is a scholarly way to make your case and Rush Limbaugh doesn't demonstrate it. Address the opposition as if it had a serious point rather than dimissing it. Avoid the word "Pinhead" unless you have that kind of raport with your profs and have shored up your argument apart from that.

Am I way off base here? Does anybody really believe that the evil liberals are out to destroy conservatives by any means necessary in more than a few fluke cases?




posted on Jul, 30 2006 @ 01:25 AM
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There are several possibilities--you are lucky, you're handsome and charming, the tide is turning, or you're going to a very special school.

My own experience from the nineties was that professors spent too much time in class pushing their agendas, but when I needed help to fend off the radical leftists, it was a couple of radical leftist lesbian professors who came to my rescue.

My hope would be that the tide is turning and freedom of expression is once again valued on campus.

[edit on 2006/7/30 by GradyPhilpott]



posted on Jul, 30 2006 @ 01:43 AM
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You know, I definitely have known a deal of discrimination while I was in school - sometimes by professors, but mostly by fellow students. Then again, I did not have to endure too much of it because I took advantage of the first-week of each semester period where you can drop a class for whatever reason without penalty. If I saw within that week that the required textbooks or the professor's demeanor/tirades would be unfairly biased I would simply drop the class. Case in point - a class entitled "Political Scandals and Scoundrels" - let's just say the curriculum syllabus had some very familiar recent figures, and the words "Kennedy" "Clinton" and "Carter" were not among them... So I found a different class to fill that time-slot.

This was not always the case, unfortunately, because I had one professor who taught a required class on Research Methods in Political Science that was very upset that the American Flag flew at the head of our room because it was "government propaganda meant to assist in our socialization process." (and he mentioned it about once a week) This was particularly painful because I knew the class would require an in-depth (and yes, thoroughly cited) research paper. I just knew that I would be more heavily scrutinized than my colleagues that openly agreed with him wholeheartedly.

But the thing that bothered me most were professors in Frosh/Soph classes (e.g. 1000/2000 level) that had nothing to do with politics (perfect example - 2000-level intro to sociology or even anthropology (I wish I was kidding on that one!) and those kinds of classes) go on political rants about current events during lessons that were held in lecture halls that were large classes, thus making them far less interactive with comments/question-taking (because they were low level classes.) This made an environment where we basically just had to listen to the professor and take it, unsure if one of their biased "facts" spewed during a mouth-frothing tirade would be on the exam (multiple choice exams in low-level classes make it difficult to debate and defend yourself.)
If I wanted to get the person audited or reviewed I could have, but it really wasn't worth the effort to me. Sometimes I would also certainly have gotten results - but I didn't want to burn any bridges because perhaps someday in the future those people will be useful to me. Hey maybe I learned something about politics after all!



posted on Jul, 30 2006 @ 01:52 AM
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My undergraduate experience in the eighties was very positive. I loved college, but I took a race relations course my last semester that was nothing but a white-male bashing festival that presaged my graduate experience in the nineties. But, of course, I chose to study Social Work, which I should have known was as much politics as science--more so, really.

I'm no longer working in Social Work and the fact is, because of the political nature of the profession, I may never return. I'll never regret the education I got in Social Work school, though.

[edit on 2006/7/30 by GradyPhilpott]



posted on Jul, 30 2006 @ 02:13 AM
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Yeah, my undergrad and graduate years were a lot of fun regardless of the campus sentiment... Although it's still worth pointing out that if we wanted to attend an event the Campus Conservatives made due with only renting one van - not even a bus, lol! And we got to meet in a small classroom while the Campus "Progressives" got an auditorium



posted on Jul, 31 2006 @ 01:02 PM
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Originally posted by The Vagabond
My own experiences lead me to believe that people welcome the chance to feel persecuted in lieu of accepting their weaknesses, and that the bias, which does exist, is not necessarily intended as intimidation and does not necessarily manifest as discrimination.


Bravo! Well-said! This is so true. I'd like to know exactly how this 'discrimination' is manifesting.

And it's not just with college students. Everyone is a victim these days simply because someone disagrees with them. It's my experience that people simply cannot take the fact that someone disagrees with them. They feel it's an attack and therefore must attack back instead of presenting solid information.

Good on you, The Vagabond, for presenting your position in spite of disagreement.



posted on Jul, 31 2006 @ 01:21 PM
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I can tell you that in my case, this was not just a perception on my part. It was real and acknowledged by both fellow students and faculty, who had to intervene on my behalf and all for only one reason. I spoke my mind and shared my experience.



posted on Jul, 31 2006 @ 01:33 PM
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Vagabond I agree with you also on this one . . .

My years in college back in the late seventies early eighties was full of violence and struggles from the young generation at the time to make our Island independent of the US . . . occurs they fail but it was a lot of violence and some deaths.

The University I attended PR was grounds to much of the clashes between the independent movement and the police.

But I always notice that it was the young people voicing their rage the one that claimed to be the victims of all the chaos.

At the same time I never felt that I was in any kind of danger as long as I avoided the trouble areas, rallies and fights.

My daughter now in a major university were is more than 33 thousand students said that is always the students that wants to push their views the ones that also claim victimization and violations of their freedom of speech.

But she said that they are the ones looking for trouble and that she doesn't feel that her freedom of speech has been violated at all.

Still she has not been with a teacher that has forced any kind of views on her yet now in her fifth year of college. . .

Perhaps because her line of study doesn't have anything that encourage it.



posted on Jul, 31 2006 @ 02:02 PM
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I was a leftist as an undergraduate in the 1980's . . .

but my views have changed over time; by the time I completed my most recent graduate degree (~2002), I had become what a lot of people characterize as coservative.

By and large, with two main exceptions, the professors gave me lattitude in arguing against them.

One professor was actually "called out" by the class for letting me have the floor for as long as I wanted to communicate my views. He told the class that it was in the name of "getting both sides out there." He had the last word, and rebutted my comments, but did so in a way that was not ad hominem.

Of course, the professors in that (most recent program) also knew I was a professor myself, in another department . . . .

I had two other professors, one the head of the department, and the second who was the head of the school, who DID grade me down for my views.

The department head gave me basically a B - on the final exam in her class. I met her to discuss this, at first in private, but she refused. I brought witnesses. She said my final exam was substandard. I asked her how, and she said content-wise. I asked her to produce another's work that included information I had left out of my exam. She refused, and other classmates offered to let their tests to be used as examples, so she could describe why my work was insufficent. She refused to, even when another professor offered to assist, to protect the other student's privacy. She refused, and quoted from the department rulebook about how her rulings were beyond appeal.

The second professor gave me a C - -, the lowest grade I could take without having to repeat his class. Again, mine was the longest research paper, used the most sources and covered and original area of investigation.

But other that those two professors, I don't think I was generally GRADED DOWN for being politically incorrect.

On the other hand, I don't think I got the "benefit of the doubt," either. But then, my academic ability made up for the lack of the favors I might have otherwise received.

.



posted on Jul, 31 2006 @ 03:41 PM
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When I see a topic like this one, there's one thing in particular that I look for. Are people posting facts, or are they posting subjective judgments?

Here's the key difference. A fact is something that any of us could have verified or seen for ourselves if we'd been there. A subjective judgment is not.

I'll give some examples of each from posts that have already been made here:

Here are some facts:



I've never had a problem voicing my true beliefs with [professors]. . . . As long as my timing is right and I'm not intensely disrespectful I can crack jokes at their ideas and flat out call them on trying to BS the class.


I could have verified that if I'd shared a class with Vagabond.

Here is a subjective judgment:



My own experience from the nineties was that professors spent too much time in class pushing their agendas


I couldn't verify that if I'd been there, at least not without clarifying, "What do you mean by 'pushing their agendas'?"

Here is another fact:



I had one professor who taught a required class on Research Methods in Political Science that was very upset that the American Flag flew at the head of our room because it was "government propaganda meant to assist in our socialization process."


Since this is an actual description of what the professor said and did, I could have verified that if I'd been there.

Here's another subjective judgment:



I loved college, but I took a race relations course my last semester that was nothing but a white-male bashing festival that presaged my graduate experience in the nineties.


Would I have judged that course to be a "white-male bashing festival"? Without knowing what was said that Grady judged in this way, I can't possibly tell.

Now here's the thing. If I look over the material in this thread, and disregard everything except facts, I can find only two of them that support the idea of discrimination against conservatives on campus even slightly, and that's Dr. Strangecraft's two instances where professors graded him down, apparently for his views (and he presents supporting evidence to make me believe that). Yet he also says,



But other that those two professors, I don't think I was generally GRADED DOWN for being politically incorrect.


Two professorial jerks do not, of course, a campus trend make.

Other facts I see here either deny that there is any problem with that sort of thing, or address the phenomenon of professors speaking their political minds in their classrooms, which of course does not constitute oppression.

If you hold political views that are strongly different from the majority of both faculty and students -- and there is no denying that college campuses are usually very liberal places -- then you may feel discriminated against as a byproduct of feeling isolated and ganged up on. But that feeling is itself likely to lend a bias to your judgment.



posted on Jul, 31 2006 @ 03:48 PM
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I'm sorry my post wasn't satisfying to you, but I'm not in the mood to spend the time and effort enumerating every example. In graduate school the agenda was radical feminism that took up too much class time. If you don't know what white-male bashing is, then nothing I can say can help you understand.



posted on Jul, 31 2006 @ 04:18 PM
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Additionally, though I believe the OP addressed professors abusing their political bias, the student bias can be more "intimidating" (well, per se, I'm personally not in a position to be intimidated, at least physically.)

I completed my undergraduate degrees in 2003 (attending two universities in Florida, and one in Texas) and returned in 2004 to do some graduate work in Florida (just for reference - two supposedly "red" states overall.) Other than being rather forced to TA for professors I politically disagreed with personally (basically proctor their exams, and "mark" the essay sections - I was given a rubric I had to adhere to rather strictly, according to the particular professor's whims), during the '04 campaign cycle (disclaimer: I worked for the Broward County (FL) Republican Party in both '00 and '04) I noticed on campus many destroyed Bush/Cheney posters/stickers, but none of the Kerry/Edwards mentions had been messed with. So much for tolerance and compassion.

It's real, and it is not just people claiming to be "persecuted" about being disagreed with. Don't make this thread a picture of perfect irony!

p.s. forgive the inter-parantheses, I understand some browsers cannot view brackets.



posted on Jul, 31 2006 @ 05:38 PM
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I want to point out to the poster who remarked that only two professors graded me down (it was alpha humana, I think).

There was a "concrete effect," in that my GPA was several tenths of a point lower than it would have otherwise been.

Although I was near the top (if not the actual summit) of my class, I also received NO academic prizes or awards, a singular distinction, for those in the top 10% or so; most of them were given grants, scholarships and research assistantships from the school itself. Hell, some of them at least won a free textbook as a consolation prize.

Seriously; every Spring, the school holds an awards banquet, at which grants, scholarships and prizes are awarded for the following year. I only attended once. Everyone, of all political stripes, kept turning around to look at me, wondering why my name wasn't being called. I think many of them were embarrased by the obvious favoritism at stake; particularly when there was prominent mention of a research project I had authored with 3 other students. Each of the others received some prize, award or recognition for getting published--except me. It was particularly infuriating since I had done the actual statistics that disproved the null hypothesis. The co-worker who got an in-house grant couldn't even describe the project when asked to by the presenter! (But oh well, it's life's little events like that which teach us all humility, in the end.).

I got scholarships and grants, but they were TOTALLY extramural, and I had to apply for (compete for) all of them, as opposed to the in-house awards; which are more lucrative, and have no scrutiny other than from one's instructors.

In other words, despite my academic achievements, and obvious mastery of the course of instruction, I got a nice red

"WE DON'T LIKE YOU!!"

stamped across my union card of academic achievement.

Did it slow me down? Only a little. Does that process slow down the mediocre students? Definitely; does it keep less prominent students from speaking up? You bet it does.

.



posted on Jul, 31 2006 @ 06:34 PM
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I'm sorry, Dr.Strangecraft, but I honestly have no idea what you're talking about, nor any knowledge of your extra-academic practices.



posted on Jul, 31 2006 @ 08:15 PM
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oops, sorry. It was two steps forward that I was thinking of.

Anyway, the point I was trying to make was, that although the inhospitable climate did not keep me from pursuing various degrees, I think that overall it has an effect on the whole population of students in academia; coercing them, however gently, to conformity or at least to curb their speech to only a muted protest.

.



posted on Jul, 31 2006 @ 10:24 PM
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I am rather surprised by some of the examples given here; they are quite a bit more compelling than the standard fare for conservative media complaints that I am familiar with (particularly the radio show which prompted my post).


Student bias I have only seen rarely; apparently it scares the hell out of them when the top student is a large bikeresque Marine.

There was however a speech class in which the final exam was a debate. The winner got an automatic A on the final. The loser couldn't get better than a B. Debates were scored by the class. I was debating in favor of stricter immigration enforcement to a class that was precisely 1 student short of 50% Mexican-American.

My speech correctly anticipated and countered her arguement with statistics and historical examples. It went off pretty much without a hitch, and was executed without notes of any kind.
She had her entire speech on power point, but when she couldn't figure out how to work the program she lost her place and fell apart. She never rebutted a single point, even with the luxury of going second.

I lost the debate, 8 to 20. 15 of the scorecards cast for my opponent lacked required commentary and student signitures. I took all but one A student, all of the exchange students, only a single Mexican, and scorecards favoring me had a higher average disparity as well as more commentary.

The good news, which goes back to faculty bias, is that I provided a statistical breakdown of the scorecards along with my required assesment, and this persuaded the professor (an open homosexual and outspoken Democrat) to violate his own rule and give me a 98%.

It is possible that I've been fortunate so far. I can't pretend that I know how common professors like those some of you have described are. All I can really say is that up until this thread, most of the accusations I have heard have been less than impressive, and I've found that I avoid such less than impressive cases of "discrimination" by not being less than impressive when I express myself.

I guess we'll see what happens as I move up. Earning 33 credits hardly makes me an expert on the educational system as a whole.



posted on Aug, 2 2006 @ 02:06 PM
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Originally posted by GradyPhilpott
If you don't know what white-male bashing is, then nothing I can say can help you understand.


The problem isn't that I don't know what white-male bashing is, it's that I know a whole lot of different things that it could be, and don't know which of those you mean.



posted on Aug, 2 2006 @ 02:11 PM
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Originally posted by dr_strangecraft
Although I was near the top (if not the actual summit) of my class, I also received NO academic prizes or awards, a singular distinction, for those in the top 10% or so


That's interesting. Do you have any inside knowledge of how prizes and awards were decided on?

Vagabond:

That example is a good argument for not allowing students to vote grades for each other.

[edit on 2-8-2006 by Two Steps Forward]



posted on Aug, 2 2006 @ 02:35 PM
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I just finished 3 years in a 2 year school (slow learner
) and I have to say that I had professors that ran the gamut from very liberal to very conservative but none of them ever pushed their agendas on us, some were more vocal than others, on both sides, but they always respected their students opinions as well. In fact I found that the students were more strident than the professors. My feeling about it is if you cannot tolerate being exposed to different opinions and viewpoints than your own, then get the hell out of there and make room for somebody who actually wants to learn.



posted on Aug, 2 2006 @ 02:54 PM
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Mmmm.. Two Steps Forward your points are actually opinions themselves not facts, no one should reply on this subject because we all didn't go to the same school..... right...

Anyways, I would say in my experience at school, currently in my second year at a university that my Professors are very welcoming to arguments I make to them being more conservative then most of them. Most of my teachers are infact liberal, but I have had few teachers who where conservative. The fact is, when a student appears to be well informed in the world events whether or not they are liberal or conservative they are glad to see it, that a student actually cares. Besides that honestly, is it not more fun to argue with some one then go "Mhmm, mhmm, yeah, I agree!, yep me to, uh huh" and then after exasperating the topics since everyone agrees it's awkward silence. Heated debates are far more interesting wouldn't you agree?

There are some teachers who are just so absolutly blind to the world that they only see their point of view, we have a few on ATS I am sure you can point them out. I had a friend in a American History class whos professor was so anti conservative he graded much more harshly and pened in his own comments that he sates as facts into his essays. He was told not to do that, but it shows that some professors abuse their position to force opinions down peoples throats. The worse attitude I have seen in class is from the students in the far left wing side, gets pretty nasty and if they don't get their way then you are a bigot, a war mongerer, a homophobe, a murder supporter because you like guns or what ever.





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