Education

Poll: 73 Percent of Republican Students Have Hidden Their Politics over Fears about Grades

(Jonathan Drake/Reuters)
Institutions should be encouraging its faculty and professors to demonstrate respect for people with different ideas. 

A  recent survey of 1,000 Republican and Republican-leaning college students has found that 73 percent of them have hidden their political views in the classroom — because they’re worried that exposing them could negatively impact their grades.

College Pulse conducted the online poll at the end of August for a conservative campus-news source, The College Fix, which has previously reported on its findings. The survey polled conservative-leaning students only.

According to The Fix, the survey asked students: “Have you ever withheld your political views in class for fear that your grades would suffer?”

Seventy-three percent of students who considered themselves to have “strong Republican” views said yes, as well as 71 percent with “weak Republican” views and 70 percent of Republican-leaning independents.

The huge percentage of conservative students responding in this way is disheartening — but it’s not shocking. In my years working for National Review, I’ve covered numerous examples of professors and faculty on college campuses who have chosen to make their hatred for conservatives known. For example, earlier this year, administrators at Middlebury College apologized to students who were upset that a conservative speaker had been invited to campus and pledged to do more to prevent conservative speakers in the future. In 2017, a Clemson University professor declared in a Facebook post that “all Republicans” are “racist” and “scum.” In 2015, a journalism instructor at Mississippi State University compared a conservative student group to the KKK. Back in 2014, a University of Michigan department chairwoman published an article titled “It’s Okay To Hate Republicans.”

First of all, let me be clear about the fact that I completely, totally support the First Amendment — and I absolutely understand that colleges’ professors and other employees do, and should, have the right to express their views. The thing is, though, they should really take more care to keep their comments to be more along the lines of policy discussions and avoid demonizing entire groups of people based solely on the fact that they’re on the opposite side of the political spectrum. Truly, I believe that our country would be a better place if everyone tried to maintain this kind of civility — but educators should especially want to adhere to it, for the sake of the students that they are tasked with teaching.

Now, it’s obvious how the Republican students would be helped by this kind of approach. If such huge numbers of them are really too uncomfortable to share their honest views in the classroom for fear of getting lower grades because of it, then they are not getting the kind of educational experience that they deserve. No student should feel uncomfortable in the classroom simply because he or she is a Republican. After all, college should be a place where people with all different kinds of views can feel free to express them — and have them challenged — so that they can learn and grow, and Republicans are missing out on that sort of valuable expression.

Which brings me to my second point: The status quo doesn’t just hurt Republican students, it hurts liberal students as well. Think about it: If Republicans are missing out on the valuable learning experience of having their views challenged because they do not feel that they can express them honestly, then liberal students are missing out on the same experience because they don’t have anyone challenging theirs. It’s true: Many college campuses are liberal echo-chambers, where liberal students and liberal professors are constantly reassuring each other of the correctness of the liberal position, without anyone ever exposing them to other points of view. This sort of environment will inevitably result in the liberal students who graduate from these colleges never having had the experience of defending their views or considering any others — which leaves them ill-prepared to engage politically in a real world that very much does include people who feel differently. In order to allow students to have the most educational college experience possible, these institutions should be encouraging its faculty and professors to demonstrate respect for people with different ideas.

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