As someone who loves learning and being in a classroom, I value the importance of college and academia. I respect professors who impart their knowledge and create an atmosphere sound for intellectual discourse and discussion. As I've voiced several times, I'm a strong believer that college is the time and place for young individuals to discover themselves, find their voice, and gain new perspectives.
Apart from taking your basic, mandatory courses in chemistry and calculus, a liberal arts education is the perfect opportunity for a student to engage in thoughtful discussions, dissect current world issues, and formulate informed opinions. It is also a safe space, if you will, to openly discuss controversial topics.
Having said all of that, the academic freedom once exciting about college has become limited nowadays.
These days, a liberal arts education has become way too liberal.
And, to be clear, I understand why college professors are predominantly liberal. College is a progressive place, and many ideas about civil rights, educational and job opportunities, and the environment align nicely with liberal ideals. My concern has to do with professors who are overly biased.
Some professors spend a great deal of class time voicing and teaching their left-leaning ideas and worldviews. For students who go to class to simply learn and digest what they are taught, it is not too difficult to confuse the professor's opinions with real facts. We've grown up being taught that teachers hold a certain authority, rightfully so, and are usually right about what they preach.
Yet, when they bring political views into the classroom, a line is crossed. More often than not, students cannot outright question the professor's ideas out loud, unless they are that one brave soul that entertains the class every now and then by getting into arguments with the teacher.
Students who hold conservative viewpoints are quickly shut down and even discouraged from participating in the classroom.
Now, of course, there are several professors who acknowledge that they are capable of making mistakes and engage the classroom in active discussions. These are some of the best teachers I've had to date. Yet, they are hard to come by.
I'm not arguing that colleges need to choose between being conservative and liberal. In fact, it's impractical to avoid any bias because we are humans and humans have biases. But, the bias that many professors voice is overwhelming.
And this is college, people, not CNN or Fox News.
In today's age, politics are everywhere, and school is no exception. However, school is the one place where politics shouldn't immediately become polarized. This is the time for students to rationalize through ideas and make their own opinions, not a professor's chance to promote leftist propaganda during class time. We shouldn't be told what to think, but rather given resources and ideas on how to think.
We definitely shouldn't feel like our thoughts and backgrounds are unwelcome. Everything ranging from the intense microaggression training given during orientation to analyzing world issues from an overly liberal bias is not only depriving students of the complete picture but also continuing a cycle of narrow-mindedness. Why can't all sides of every issue be presented, so students can construct their own opinions? Isn't the whole point of a liberal arts education to think critically?
Several studies back the idea that biased professors are not indoctrinating their students, and students with opposing viewpoints maintain, if not strengthen, their viewpoints through college. Instead, there is evidence that students tend to push back against professors with opposing political views and stay less engaged in the class.
I'll give you one example. One of my professors has an issue with people who ask others the question: "Where are you from?" Oh, great, just another statement to be easily offended by! In fact, she spoke a great length about her disgust for people who feel the need to ask others of their country of origin. She went on to say that she never bothers asking that question, basically reiterating the wonderful ideal that she sees no color or race.
Furthermore, in a class about immigration and other world issues, she banned the words "illegal" and "crazy" after a student happened to use them while sharing his opinion. Is this really the right message to be sending the students? A classroom in which we are not allowed to say certain words or discuss relevant issues openly because we are too sensitive?
This is my issue with overly leftist ideology these days. It seems that some liberals are so caught up in censoring anything that could potentially be offensive that they completely miss the point of the conversation.
What if people are genuinely curious about where someone is from without any racist strings attached?
What if people want to discuss illegal immigration without any intention to demoralize individuals, but for the sake of the issue itself?
What if people say the word "crazy" in a colloquial sense to express their emotions freely even though they are aware of its clinical connotation?
In these situations, the intention of what a student says is completely ignored. Rather, opportunities to pick out anything offensive are explored. As a professor, that is not the message to be sending out to your students. No wonder the participation is low in the class and the same opinions are echoed back and forth.
For starters, a teacher's goal shouldn't even be to turn the class into a feminist and left-leaning class, unless that is the purpose of the class. It discourages students who hold different opinions, potentially creating a hostile environment for them.
Students shouldn't feel like they are alone on campus, or feel scared to voice them in fear of judgment.
Teachers always say that all opinions are welcome, but in colleges and classrooms that are outwardly very liberal, it is hard to believe so. In fact, it is quite hypocritical that the same liberals who preach openmindedness are the first ones to shut down those who think otherwise. Humanities and social sciences are subject areas in which politics is inevitable. Students should feel encouraged to openly voice, share, and reevaluate their ideas alongside the professor in the classroom.
Sadly, it's starting to feel more and more like an echo chamber that promotes and intensifies anything that aligns with a leftist agenda.