New Research Shows Three Quarters of Conservative Professors Fear for Their Jobs
US Academics increasingly have to bite their tongues out of concern for losing their jobs, and conservative scholars feel the pressure far more than their liberal counterparts.
New research from the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE), a free speech group, found that 52 percent of professors said they worried about losing their jobs or reputations because of being misunderstood or taken out of context.
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When the numbers are broken down by political bent, things worsen. FIRE also found that 72% of conservative professors were worried about getting canned for speech, compared to 56% of moderates and 40% of self-reported liberals.
Fire researcher Nathan Honeycut spoke on how these numbers aren’t just concerning for free speech but also academia.
“When professors across the political spectrum become terrified of losing their jobs for exercising their rights, true academic inquiry and diversity of thought become nearly impossible.”
FIRE Researchers claim that the new ideological restrictions are much worst anti-Communist Red Scare purge of US institutions in the 1950s when Sen Joseph McCarthy famously probed his targets for subversion and espionage.
The poll of 1,500 professors nationwide comes as universities become more divided and politically bent, which is evident in the other findings.
“Roughly one-third (34%) of faculty said they often feel they can not express their opinions on a subject because of how students, colleagues, or the administration would respond, compared to one-fifth of students surveyed for FIRE’s CFSR. The percentages of faculty who said they were very or extremely likely to self-censor in different contexts ranged from 25% (in academic publications) to 45% (on social media). Only 8% of all faculty said they do not self-censor in any of the four contexts asked about. “
A sizeable portion of professors reported disciplinary action by the school when they did not engage in this self-censorship.
Roughly one-in-10 (11%) faculty reported being disciplined or threatened with discipline because of their teaching, while 4% reported facing these consequences for their research, academic talks, or non-academic publications.
The on-campus stigma seems to work, with most academics reporting some self-censoring.
“The percentages of faculty who said they were very or extremely likely to self-censor in different contexts ranged from 25% (in academic publications) to 45% (on social media). Only 8% of all faculty said they do not self-censor in any of the four contexts asked about. “
Other numbers with academics speaking on broader policy are consistent with this.
Only 3 out of five respondents agreed that a “university professor should be free to express their ideas or convictions on any subject.” Moreover, roughly a third of faculty supports the investigation and likely ‘cancellation’ of their co-workers for controversial speech.
A significant portion of faculty (ranging from 18% to 36%) endorsed their college’s administration launching a formal investigation into other faculty members for their controversial expression.
Despite this, faculty is split relatively evenly on mandatory DEI training, even if they’re uncomfortable saying it.
“Faculty are split evenly on whether diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) statements are a justifiable requirement for a university job (50%) or are an ideological litmus test that violates academic freedom (50%). Three-in-four liberal faculty support mandatory diversity statements while 90% of conservative faculty and 56% of moderate faculty see them as political litmus tests.”
But as long as so many faculty members are afraid for their jobs, the speech on campus will not be nearly so evenly split.
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