American academics are increasingly biting their tongues for fear of losing their jobs — and conservative scientists are feeling the heat more than their liberal counterparts, a shocking campus study finds.
Research found by the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE), a free speech group, that 52 percent of professors said they were worried about losing their job or reputation because they were being misunderstood or taken out of context .
Those on the right feel it the most – 72 percent of conservative respondents feared rejection for their views, compared to 56 percent of moderates and 40 percent of liberals.
It’s many times worse than during the anti-Communist Red Scare purge of US institutions in the 1950s, when Senator Joseph McCarthy was famous for probing his targets for subversion and espionage, researchers said.
FIRE researcher Nathan Honeycutt warned of a chilling wave over academia.
The Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE), a free speech group, found that 52 percent of professors said they were worried about losing their job or reputation because they were being misunderstood or taken out of context
Gov. Ron DeSantisse is trying to ban colleges from teaching critical race theory (CRT) and radical gender ideology – to the chagrin of some professors and free speech advocates.
“If professors across the political spectrum become terrified of losing their jobs for exercising their rights, true academic inquiry and diversity of thought becomes nearly impossible,” Honeycutt said.
The poll of nearly 1,500 U.S. faculty members comes as universities become increasingly polarized as activists and politicians from the left and right turn campuses into frontlines in America’s culture wars.
New hires lament being required to submit diversity, equality, and inclusion (DEI) statements for jobs, while Florida liberal educators say they have been forced to stop teaching about racism and gender due to rules imposed by the Republican government Ron DeSantis.
Notable victims include former Hamline University teacher Erika López Prater, who was fired from the Minnesota school after a Muslim student complained she had been shown a 14th-century painting of the prophet Muhammad as part of a class on Islamic art – although she had warned students in advance.
Meanwhile Dr. Richard Lowery, a tenured professor at the University of Texas at Austin, sued the school, saying the administrators threatened his job because he said critical race theory (CRT) had “no scientific basis.”
FIRE’s 54-page report, The Academic Mind in 2022, was released Tuesday and found that about three in five respondents believed that “a college professor should be free to express any and all of their ideas or beliefs on any subject.”
But the reality in American schools is very different: 11 percent of faculty describe being punished or threatened for their teaching, and 4 percent face this for their research or academic lectures.
On the other hand, about a third of professors supported university officials who opened formal investigations into their colleagues who made controversial statements – showing how some academics try to cancel each other out.
DEI statements have become increasingly common in universities in recent years, and some say they are required for one-fifth of academic posts. States such as Florida and Texas have introduced laws to ban mandatory DEI statements.
Survey respondents were evenly split on such statements: 50 percent said they were justifiable requirements, while the other half of respondents called them an ideological litmus test that violates academic freedom.
Liberal women scholars supported them more than conservative men. About 57 percent of liberal scholars said improving political diversity was less important than promoting race and gender diversity on campus.
Hamline University faculty leaders — who fired art history instructor Erika López Prater (pictured right) — have overwhelmingly called for the resignation of university president Fayneese Miller (pictured left)
Aram Wedatalla complained to the school claiming she was ‘blinded’ by the image of the Prophet Muhammad, despite Professor Prater warning them several times that she intended to show it
Researchers noted that the survey suffered from a low response rate from FIRE’s own conservative-minded members.
The civil liberties nonprofit, dubbed Hamline University earlier this month, has one of America’s worst free speech colleges in the wake of the Prophet Muhammad’s firing scandal.
The other schools making the top ten are University of Pennsylvania transgender swimmer Lia Thomas, who was cited for trying to silence a professor’s anti-immigration and anti-positive action comments.
The University of Oregon is listed for forcing staff members to “pledge allegiance” to “diversity, equity, and inclusion.” The prestigious Texas A&M also made the top ten after school officials began taking control of traditionally student-led events on campus.