Commentaries
Survey finds one-sided political affiliation among UNC-Chapel Hill faculty

Carolina Review questions UNC's devotion to diversity

By Jon Sanders

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March 28, 2002

A survey of faculty members in nine departments at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has found that over four-fifths are registered Democrats. The results of the survey, conducted by the conservative student magazine Carolina Review for its March issue, called into question UNC-CH's devotion to diversity.

The results were not unique; in 1996, The Daily Tar Heel examined eight departments and found a similar disparity: 91 percent of professors who were registered with a major political party were Democrats, while nine percent were registered Republicans.

"If all your professors are Democrats, is Carolina diverse?" asked the cover of Carolina Review, which features a grinning donkey clopping across the word "DIVERSITY."

The Carolina Review survey used the rolls of registered voters in Orange and Durham counties and looked at the departments of African & Afro-American studies, English, history, philosophy, social work, sociology, journalism & mass communication, political science, and women's studies.

Here were the breakdowns by department, according to Carolina Review:

Department Democrat Republican Unaffiliated
African & Afro-American Studies 81% 0% 19%
English 88% 5% 7%
History 93% 3% 4%
Philosophy 74% 13% 13%
School of Social Work 89% 7% 4%
Sociology 81% 13% 6%
Journalism & Mass Comm. 77% 13% 10%
Political Science 79% 12% 9%
Women's Studies 100% 0% 0%

"Everyone seems to agree that more diversity is essential to improving the intellectual environment on campus," writes Deb McCown for Carolina Review. "What is not clear is what exactly 'diversity' requires."

A similar survey of UNC-CH faculty voter registrations was done in 1996 The Daily Tar Heel. The DTH looked at the departments of chemistry, economics, English, history, journalism, mathematics, political science, and public policy. It found 204 Democrats, 19 Republicans, and 25 unaffiliated voters. There were two or fewer Republicans in the history, English, political science, journalism, and mathematics departments, and none of the departments had more than four Republicans.
"The extent to which faculty at UNC present their personal opinions in class is an open question," wrote Tony Mecia for the DTH Oct. 28, 1996. "But if politics are entering university classrooms, Board of Elections records indicate it's coming predominantly from one side of the political spectrum."

The Carolina Review survey's findings are similar to those of a poll of Ivy League professors conducted earlier this year by Luntz Research Companies. That poll found only three percent who identified themselves as Republican, six percent as Green Party or other, 20 percent as independent, and 57 percent as Democrat. It also found that 80 percent voted for the Democrat, Al Gore, in the last presidential election, and nine percent voted for the Republican, George W. Bush.

 


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