A study commissioned by a conservative group says the school has a bias.
Well, our worst nightmare has been realized. Drexel University has a liberal bias. At least, that’s what education advocacy group campusreform.org is saying in a newly released study. So, we set off to see if it was true. After all, $53,000 a year for tuition and fees is a pretty hefty price tag. Maybe there’s a cheaper alternative to seeing our kids get brainwashed into left-wing zombies.
First, we asked Drexel about its biases, but the school wouldn’t bite, providing us with a boring, boilerplate response. “As a nonpartisan, private university, Drexel proudly embraces a diverse community of students, faculty and staff who hold a broad range of beliefs and convictions. Our campus is enriched and energized by the free expression of these diverse opinions and perspectives,” says Vice President for University Relations Philip Terranova in a statement.
Surprisingly, campusreform.org National Director Bryan Bernys wouldn’t give much clarification, either. When pressed to define what constitutes a “liberal bias,” Bernys regurgitated the methodology of the study: “We looked at a number of different factors from administrative policy to political donations, the number of political groups on campus and where they fell in the ideological spectrum, and the amount of money spent on conservative and liberal groups on campus.”
Fine, have it your way. We’ll examine the findings ourselves. Keep in mind that Campusreform is coming from an openly conservative perspective: “Obviously, Campusreform exists to promote conservatism on university campuses,” Bernys says. We tried to treat the group’s assertions fairly, but in the end did not find the results particularly convincing.
Let’s start with the professors, who in 2008 gave more than $46,000 to Democratic candidates, but only $10,000 to Republican candidates, according to the study. OK, we see the concern. If the teachers are overwhelmingly supporting one political party, maybe they are indoctrinating our children’s precious minds with biased information about whom they should be voting for.
So what about the academics? That’s what we really want to know. If Drexel professors are supporting Democrats, are they preaching that students should do the same? Regrettably, Campusreform was unable to provide us with any illumination. “We didn’t really get into that as one of our things,” Bernys says. Oh.
The report also looked at Drexel’s politically oriented groups, six leaning liberal and four conservative. Who are these groups? On the conservative side, there’s an anti-abortion group, the College Republicans and a couple libertarian organizations. None of them responded to request for comment on whether they felt discriminated against on campus. Either a) They are afraid to speak out, fearing liberal backlash or b) enjoying summer vacation and not checking email.
A few of the “liberal” groups did respond, though.
“Overall, Drexel is not terribly politically active but the members of groups like the Drexel Democrats are very passionate and Drexel definitely enables us to have a strong presence on campus,” says Giancarlo Stefanoni, president of the Drexel Democrats. “I’ve never gotten a sense of bias from either side. As Campusreform mentions, some of the conservative groups are among the most active on campus and receive funding for their activity.”
In fact, the supposed conservative groups actually receive more funding than the liberal ones, though Campusreform also cites $25,000 in “green grants” that the university gives out each year for sustainability initiatives as evidence of far-left policy.
Sierra Club’s Catey Burtness-Adams says sustainability isn’t necessarily coming from the left. “Thinking with long-term interests beyond only short-term economic gains is in everyone’s best interest, all politics aside,” she says, adding that she’s speaking personally, not as a representative of the group. “Becoming more efficient with energy use and reducing waste are not political missions, but simply make for smart business practice in cost savings.”
“I have never felt that Drexel University was overly political on either side,” she adds.
Other groups labeled liberal include an LGBT club, an Environmental and Occupational Health group, and Students for Democratic Society. OK, anyone who’s read history will concede SDS is pretty left-handed, but what about the animal-rights club?
“I don’t consider my group to be particularly liberal,” says Amanda Rossi, from People for Animal Welfare. “Anyone can be against animal cruelty. I wish they’d bothered to call me before they made a judgment.”
Campusreform’s report also cites school’s sexual-harassment policy, which was criticized by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education for infringing on freedom of speech rights.
“Mentioning almost anything at all that is sexual can be considered harassment, including ‘eating food provocatively’ or ‘giving someone elevator eyes,’” wrote student Stacy Litz for the Triangle, Drexel’s student newspaper. “If Drexel’s harassment policy were actually followed, students would have to walk around campus like mindless zombies, afraid to show any human emotion or interaction.”
The Drexel study is part of Campusreform’s efforts to analyze all of the country’s top 100 universities. Out of the 50 campuses analyzed at the time of the interview, Bernys told us they were overwhelmingly liberal-leaning, with only about five remaining neutral or leaning conservative. So what is it about higher education that makes it so unbearably leftist?
“It’s just part of the academia thing,” Bernys says. “All we’re basically doing is making people aware; this is what life is like on campus—maybe campus is hostile toward ROTC or things of that nature,” he adds. (Drexel has ROTC for the Army, Navy and Air Force).
Well, if Drexel counts as a liberally biased school, we can’t wait to see what campusreform.org has to say about Penn.