Summary: Academic bias has never been worse in America. Higher education has been completely hijacked by leftists who have destroyed our top universities. But if alumni and parents rise up—and if the boards of directors/trustees have the courage to do their job—it is not too late to restore sanity on campus and provide quality education to our youth.
The Long March Through the Institutions
Higher education in America is now totally dominated by leftists. The “long march through the institutions” has almost totally purged conservative educators from the ranks. Not only faculty members, but (perhaps especially) administrators—living in their ivory towers—no longer tolerate dissenting points of view on campus. The result? An unprecedented level of academic bias.
The Lack of Ideological Diversity on Campus
If you believe this to be hyperbole, consider this: The National Association of Scholars recently reported that Democrat professors outnumber Republican professors by a ratio of roughly 9 to 1 on top US campuses. Female professors identifying as Democrats outnumber their Republican peers by an astounding 16 to 1 ratio.
For liberal arts programs, the statistics are even more ridiculous. The Democrat-to-Republican ratio among English, Sociology, and Anthropology professors is 26.8 to 1, 27 to 1 and 42.2 to 1, respectively.
The make-up of college administrators is equally out-of-sync with the American public. Democrat administrators outnumber their Republican counterparts by a scale of roughly 12 to 1. And the ranks of college administrators are growing at a dizzying pace. The number of administrators at Yale, for instance, has increased by 45% since 2003—three times faster than the undergraduate student body.
The Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Industry
The fastest-growing area of administrators in recent years, of course, has been in the realm of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). According to a recent study by The Heritage Foundation, DEI staff now make up an average of 3.4 positions for every 100 tenured faculty. Focusing primarily on ethnic and gender identities—from African-American issues, to women’s studies, and LGBTQ life—the burgeoning DEI bureaucracy now boasts an overbearing influence on daily campus life.
Reflecting the lack of intellectual diversity–replaced now with monochromatic academic bias–nearly every major university in America allows DEI administrators the unchallenged opportunity to propagandize about systemic racism, white privilege, and Critical Race Theory.
All of these left-leaning administrators come at a steep cost. At UC Berkley, for instance, the school pays about $25 million a year to employ 400 DEI bureaucrats.
And we wonder why tuition keeps going up so dramatically year after year.
The focus on college campuses has sadly shifted from teaching to indoctrinating. Academic bias has become so widespread that faculty and administrators carefully administer their own political screening process–in many cases requiring applicants to pledge fealty to DEI and/or CRT.
Most of us with fond memories of our student days assumed that our beloved alma maters would not be susceptible to the national trends of wokeness and political correctness on campus. Yet over the last few years, the radicals in academia have proved us tragically mistaken.
President Obama famously asserted his goal to “fundamentally transform America”. Recent history has demonstrated that educators are hell-bent on fundamentally transforming every university in America into leftist utopian centers of indoctrination.
If Washington & Lee Isn’t Safe, No College Is Safe
The university system in America is broken. It is completely out of step with the political, religious, and cultural beliefs of ordinary Americans. And it is certainly at odds with the traditions of honor, civility, and respect for our Founders that we have enjoyed for generations at my undergraduate alma mater, Washington & Lee University. The college president there and his allies are charging full steam ahead in their mission to convert W&L into just another “me too” institution of PC mediocrity.
Every cloud has a silver lining, though. The chaos on campuses across America today may be a tremendous opportunity not only to restore colleges to their original missions, but to create dynamic alternatives to the madness and academic bias that prevails on nearly every other campus in the country.
If we as alumni, parents, or supporters—with the essential support of university boards of directors—are bold enough to act, we can reassert academic freedom on campus, rebrand schools as havens of tolerance where ALL points of view are welcome, and celebrate our traditions—including at places like W&L the legacies of our remarkable founders, George Washington and Robert E. Lee—without apologies or woke attempts at whitewashing history.
We are doing that at Washington & Lee. Four years ago, a small group of fed-up alumni got together and formed The Generals Redoubt, a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the traditions, history, and values of W&L. In the short period of its existence, The Generals Redoubt has built a following of several thousand alumni and has raised millions of dollars. The organization recently purchased a headquarters property near the school and is actively supporting speakers and student organizations sympathetic to their cause.
Meanwhile, the left-leaning leadership of the university continues its push to erase history. In a Stalinist-style whitewashing, Robert E. Lee’s final resting place–Lee Chapel–was renamed “University Chapel” in 2021. His portrait (along with George Washington’s portrait) was removed. Plaques referencing Lee were “disappeared”. And in the ultimate sign of disrespect, the famous “Recumbent Statue” of Lee by sculptor Edward Valentine is routinely hidden behind closed doors, while the university busies itself designing a permanent wall to essentially put Lee in a closet.
“Everything faded into mist. The past was erased, the erasure was forgotten, the lie became truth.”
George Orwell wrote those words in his prophetic novel 1984. The erasure of history is rampant at universities all across the country, as obsessed mobs frantically topple statues and rename buildings in frenzied attempts to purge their institutions of their white European legacy of oppression.
Why Not a Conservative Alternative University?
In the war-torn South of 1865, Washington College (now Washington & Lee) was on the verge of insolvency, with only a few dozen students enrolled. Under the leadership of Robert E. Lee, the college began its remarkable ascendency. Today, we have the chance to perform a similar act of salvation at colleges throughout the country, albeit from a different set of modern threats.
The old adage that “personnel is policy” applies directly to the challenge with higher education today. If we wish to save our schools, we need wholesale change in the personnel now running the universities. And it begins at the top, with the left-leaning presidents and administrators. It extends to a vast majority of the faculty, as well.
Imagine alternative universities where conservative professors and administrators are welcomed with open arms. Word would spread throughout the nation, and such schools would soon be on the receiving end of applications from many of the top minds in academia who feel stifled and intimidated in the mainstream universities where they currently reside.
Imagine also the vast number of students and parents who would jump at the opportunity to enjoy an education devoid of Marxist indoctrination and academic bias, where students and faculty are free to explore ALL points of view without threat of being cancelled or harassed. Students would flock to these bastions of free thought, just as they did to Washington College in 1865 when Lee was named president.
Tyranny Under the Department of Education & Accreditation Agencies
Critics will say that such dramatic change would jeopardize schools’ rankings or perhaps even their accreditation, as the national organizations weighing in on those matters are dominated by group-thinking leftists. So what? Those rankings and accreditations are meaningless when comparing universities to other broken institutions.
Others will say that a strategy of wholesale change for true academic freedom will result in a loss of support from the Department of Education. Federal student loans may be cut off, or schools may be declared in violation of Title IX or other such programs. Athletic programs may be endangered.
The DOE, by the way, is now harassing and micro-managing schools by enforcing proper pronoun usage (he/him, they/them, etc.) and demanding that restrooms be opened for trans-gender students.
Undoubtedly there are risks and there would be costs associated with pursuing such change. But the upside would almost certainly outweigh the downside. Many universities are already endowed with generous scholarship programs, and energetic capital campaigns could bolster these existing academic scholarships.
Conclusion: Academic bias has eliminated freedom of thought, speech, and inquiry on college campuses. It is time for a revolution in higher education.
Lee was an innovator when he served as president of Washington College. He implemented new academic programs in areas of journalism, modern languages, and commerce. He adapted to the needs of the time by delivering pragmatic education while emphasizing honor, civility, and virtue.
The time has come for us to meet the academic challenges of our era by restoring academic freedom and creating uniquely American centers of higher education. It will take courage, determination, and effort. But we owe it to our universities and to the generations of students to come.
It’s time for us to deliver a loud and clear message to the radicals in higher education: Shut up and teach!