I am a political progressive, a Bernie supporter, a university professor, and… this essay is off the mark and deeply flawed.

On the subject of religious beliefs, a 2009 Pew study found that biological and physical scientists were “roughly half as likely as the general public to believe in God or a higher power” (http://www.pewforum.org/2009/11/05/scientists-and-belief/). Only 51% of scientists believed in God (33%) or a higher power (18%). The numbers for humanities and social scientists are very likely to be even lower, and there is no reason to think that those in the professoriate would be coming to Jesus et al. any more often than those outside of academia.

On the subject of political beliefs, fewer than 10% of public-university professors self-identified as “conservative” (9.2%) or “far right” (0.3%) in a 2010–11 UCLA analysis (https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2012/10/24/survey-finds-professors-already-liberal-have-moved-further-left). Meanwhile, 13.3% self-identified as “far left.” So, in other words, by these statistics there are over 44 far-left professors for every 1 far-right professor at public universities. It’s worse at private universities, where according to the same study there are 162 far-left professors for every 1 far-right professor.

I work with avowed Marxists in my department, but I have never heard any of my colleagues express any support for any Republicans; these stories are repeated, over and over again, nationally, and the data above bear it out.

Finally, the entire last paragraph is a classic example of the logical fallacy known as “the fallacy of relative privation” (http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Not_as_bad_as). Just because access to universities is a crisis, does not mean that there cannot be other crises. The statement “the crisis we face on campus is not one of political or religious beliefs does not logically follow from the preceding statement “At a moment when students and their families are bearing more of the costs for college and when access to in-state tuition is vanishing for many people in many states…” Both crises can exist; the existence of one does not eradicate the other in any way. There is not some cosmic limit on the number of crises (one?) that can exist on a college campus!

I would even contend that there’s a chance that the development of the political monoculture of academia has facilitated the attacks on public-education funding that have caused the other crisis! But that is an argument for another time.

The argument in the author’s last paragraph is fallacious, pure and simple. The attempt to silence discussion of one crisis because another exists is itself a kind of intolerance. The use of a classic logical fallacy by a communications professor in an attempt to discredit an essay the professor doesn’t agree with is deeply disappointing. But, then again, the entire post is deeply disappointing, even (especially) to someone who deeply opposes the conservative war on public higher education.

Written by

A geography professor and meteorologist at UGA in Athens, GA. I write about news, sports, weather, climate, education, journalism, religion, poetry, the South.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store