Arizona State University student Jennifer Martin began questioning the political persuasion of her professors earlier this semester, midway through a lecture about former President Richard Nixon.
According to Martin, a history instructor told a class Nixon had liberal leanings because of his concern for the poor and the environment. Then the instructor told the students Nixon had conservative leanings because of his bigotry.
Martin, a political science senior, disagreed with both assessments. “I mean, that’s obviously coming from a liberal bias,” she said.
That led her to study the political registrations of professors in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. She used the university’s Web site to obtain names of professors from five programs. Then she used public records to look up their political party registrations.
Not surprisingly, the vast majority of the liberal arts professors she found were registered Democrats, which would reflect liberal political views.
Anthropology — 28 Democrats, three Republicans, two independents.
Philosophy — 13 Democrats, one Republican.
Political science — 15 Democrats, five Republicans.
Psychology — 44 Democrats, two Republicans, one Libertarian, one
Women’s studies — Four Democrats.
Martin noted that she wasn’t able to find the names of every professor listed on the Web site, so her results are incomplete. Furthermore, she was unable to verify some registered voters were, in fact, ASU professors with identical names, so she omitted them. And her results haven’t been independently confirmed.
Still, the trend is clear. She concluded that what terms a “lack of diversity of thought” is warping the education of liberal arts students.
“A student comes in thinking they are getting an education,” said Martin, 22, a registered Libertarian. “Then what they really get is a skewed liberal perspective.”
ASU Liberal Arts and Sciences spokesman Jim Hathaway said Martin's findings could have been expected, since academia is liberal-leaning overall. Professors’ political registrations are also irrelevant.
“Why should it matter, in the same way as why should it matter what ethnicity they are or anything else?” he asked.
What students really are getting is an opportunity to learn critical thinking. Martin herself is a fine example. She has managed to rebel against the supposed liberal indoctrination for years.
After Thursday’s graduation, she plans to intern at The Goldwater Institute, a conservative think tank. Then she plans to pursue a master’s degree in political theory, perhaps work in environmental policy. Then she plans to teach — without bias.