Prof to conservative students: 'We need you more than ever'

“Colleges desperately need conservative students,” asserts Clay Routledge, a psychology professor at North Dakota State University.

In an essay for the James G. Martin Center titled A Letter to Conservatives: You Need College and College Definitely Needs You, Routledge argues that conservative college students and their parents need not turn away from academia due to its liberal bias, but should embrace the opportunity to grow intellectually by having their ideas challenged.

“You might not feel at home at many universities but your presence and contributions are important,” Routledge assures conservative students. “Don’t let the view that these disciplines are only for progressives hold you back.”

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“Believe it or not, there are conservative, libertarian, classically liberal, and centrist professors out there, even in the social sciences,” he notes, saying, “They would welcome you.”

Routledge told Campus Reform that he was motivated to pen his essay after witnessing the dismissive manner in which non-liberal people on campus are often treated.

“I have also seen firsthand what I would refer to as liberal elitism,” he told Campus Reform. “More broadly, more and more evidence is coming out that on many campuses people who deviate from leftist groupthink are derogated.”

Routledge doesn’t believe that conservative students should be ostracized for their political views, explaining that because of ideological polarization, conservative students add a valuable type of intellectual diversity to college campuses.

“Our country is diverse and there are a lot of conservative Americans, so they need to be part of the discussion and deserve the same opportunities as anyone else” he told Campus Reform. “Colleges are a great place for people with different views to get to learn about and connect with different others.”

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“We are all quite similar in our fears, vulnerabilities, hopes, and dreams,” he elaborated. “Conservatives and liberals need to work together for our nation to thrive.”

Routledge also believes that conservative students have different perspectives that can be useful in academia, asserting that colleges “need” them to help balance out what he sees as an ideologically polarized Ivory Tower.

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“Leftist academics accuse conservatives of not sufficiently supporting science, but turn a blind eye to their postmodernist colleagues who reject the entire scientific enterprise,” he writes, observing that many of the concepts that liberals promote—such as “stereotype threat, implicit bias, and microaggressions”—“have not stood up well to empirical scrutiny.”

Routledge contends that the widespread acceptance of those ideas, and their implementation into what he calls “social justice-oriented training programs,” is a result of “progressive groupthink” on campuses.

In fact, Routledge, who considers himself a fighter of “groupthink in higher ed,” believes that more conservative students on campus would help combat that tendency.

Routledge concludes by telling students that they shouldn’t reject higher education, even in spite of the ostracism that they may face.

“In short, conservative parents and young adults, our country is already divided,” Routledge writes. “Disengaging from higher education will only make the problem worse. We need you more than ever.”

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