The Corner


Where Can You Find Diversity on College Campuses?

Students walk through the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, N.C., September 20, 2018. (Jonathan Drake/Reuters)

That depends on what sort of “diversity” you mean. If you’re thinking of diversity in the leftist sense, meaning that the school enrolls proper percentages of all the aggrieved socioeconomic groups, you can find that almost everywhere. That’s because there is virtual unanimity among higher-education officials that social justice demands preferences for those groups.

But what if you’re looking for diversity of thought? In today’s Martin Center article, Professor Sam Abrams argues that in one section of the U.S. — the South — there is significantly more diversity of opinion among administrators than elsewhere. Colleges in the South, he finds, are far more balanced when it comes to the beliefs held by administrators. That is to say, leftism doesn’t have near-complete control.

But do administrators really matter? They certainly do. Abrams writes, “From settling in to their residence halls to visiting various student life and affinity centers to new student orientation programs, students will have to engage with student-facing administrators who are not only omnipresent on campus but also set the tone of discussions, frame debates, and condition the very way in which students engage with each other and the world.” Before students ever run into “progressive” professors, they have to deal with a bunch of administrators, who are often even more radical than the faculty.

Yes, you find those types everywhere, but according to Abrams, students and parents who want a less one-sided college experience are apt to find it in southern schools.

Among Abrams’s findings is that “college administrators in the South have social networks that are far more mixed and politically diverse than those elsewhere. My survey asks administrators, ‘Do most of the people you know have political beliefs that are similar, different, or mixed,’ and the responses are telling: Two-thirds of Southern administrators respond that their networks are mixed compared to just half of those administrators in the rest of the country.”

Colleges where the administrators are all leftist tend to become echo chambers for crazy leftist beliefs about race, the environment, economics, and so on. It makes life at least uncomfortable for students who don’t agree.

“In short,” Abrams concludes, “the narratives from the data are clear: College and university administrators are notably more ideologically diverse in the South and they are less likely to support the growth of social justice principles which are progressive and not neutral in today’s climate. These administrators have an incredible amount of influence on campus discourse and free speech and expression has been curtailed in the name of social justice concerns.”

George Leef is the director of research for the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy.

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