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Saturday, April 6, 2019

Big Chill on Campus

Samuel J. Abrams at Minding the Campus:
In 2017, I asked a national sample of faculty and administrators, “How often, if at all, have you avoided expressing a particular point of view on an issue because you expected a negative reaction from other students or faculty?’ Two-thirds of conservative professors stated that they simply avoided sharing their opinions because of fear of negative reactions compared to just one-third of liberals. This significant difference is strong evidence that viewpoint diversity is being silenced. Conservative professors – an endangered minority on campus – are well aware of the possible ramifications of sharing their views and fear professional repercussions for disagreeing with their liberal faculty and administrative colleagues.

Although Sarah Lawrence is proud of its extremely liberal bent, it turns out that I had a target on my back on my first day of teaching. I was told by various colleagues shortly after joining the community that I was a “diversity hire” because I was not an extreme progressive but an empirical social scientist who cares about facts and empirics and leans to the right. I could feel the derision and suspicion almost immediately from my colleagues, and relations deteriorated over time because I failed to virtue signal strongly enough to many. Working on the Sarah Lawrence campus began to feel like some uncomfortable high-school movie with powerful cliques and groups and me as the outcast. I would walk on campus and pass groups of faculty who would turn away as my views were regularly marginalized or ignored in various faculty and administrative settings