The current environment of thought in the United States is extremely tense; all can feel it. The current election has caused much debate, and, as a result, conflict has arisen. Merely saying the wrong thing at the wrong time could cause intense awkwardness between two people—I myself have witnessed this during the debates, both presidential and vice-presidential. While the parties in such a conflict can be reconciled, the awkwardness persists.

Of course, it is right to be concerned, as “a house divided against itself cannot stand.” This concern extends to the ideology of each party. Is it possible to think beyond party lines? Beyond the ideology best suited to the social order that we desire?

A recent study by a team of economists described an imbalance in party affiliation for professors in universities across the U.S. In short, the study found that a large majority of college professors are registered Democrats. The concern is for whether or not the professors are controlled or directed by their party’s ideology, and, if so, what effect this sort of ideological conformity has on the treatment or education of their students.

This study collected data from Voter Lists Online’s “Aristotle”—a database of most registered voters—for a number of professors at each university.

The fascinating results of the study included data on UR professors, showing that, of 62 faculty found in the database, 17 were not registered, three were unaffiliated, 35 were registered Democrats, one was a registered Republican, and one was registered for a minor party.

The ratio of Democrats to Republicans is most concerning: these are the most recognised and most combative of American political parties. A member of one of these parties is much more likely to reject out of hand any idea or policy of the other, even if they believe in the idea themselves. A ratio of 35 Democrats to one Republican could mean that a Republican student is very likely to encounter a professor who is in complete opposition to their views.

I am a firm believer in the right to challenge knowledge and the duty to be open to opposing ideology. Without challenge, without doubt, how can truth ever be revealed?

Only by permitting ideological conflict between professors and students will any person learning at UR reach any sort of objective truth on economic policy, education, morality, or any other matter.

Fortunately, I do not believe that the Democratic faculty at the UR suppress the views of Republicans on campus. However, if the Democratic faculty did staunchly oppose other views or reject challenges to their beliefs, the results would be disastrous for the environment of learning we have here.

In my experience, the faculty have embraced challenges to their views and accepted the beliefs of all students. As long as students maintain the ability to think how they want and to express that thinking, there will not be an oppressive ideological environment. It is therefore up to the faculty and students to determine how accepting the environment of our school is and how easily one can express their views and therefore teach and learn while interacting with others.

Building upon these ideas of political and ideological conformity, I will join many people in saying that in order to question—and thus learn from and improve upon—our beliefs, we must do away with the pressures of ideological orders.

The surest way of eliminating your own free thought is to join a political party or a similar institution. Therefore, I encourage all people on campus, students and faculty alike, not just to challenge members of other parties, but, with much more conviction and force, challenge your own beliefs and your own party. Only by doubting and challenging every idea, every thought, can you independently sort through what you must believe in.

So, it is not of concern that the large majority of faculty are Democrats. Challenge them, I say, and be challenged yourself. Question how you know and why you know. Ask yourself, “What is truth? Why do some know a different truth than I do?” Only then can you truly be convinced of your own beliefs.

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