The Young America’s Foundation 19th Annual survey of commencement speakers at the 100 top rated U.S. universities show that almost three quarters of the speakers are liberals. Although the ideological beliefs of some of the speakers could not be determined, YAF showed once again that higher education favors liberals over conservatives or other American traditionalists. Here are some highlights from the study:
- of the top 100 U.S. universities rated by U.S. News and World Report, 71 will have liberal commencement speakers, while only 10 will have conservative speakers. YAF could not determine the ideological beliefs of the remaining speakers.
- of the top 35 universities, 29 will have liberal speakers, and only one will have a conservative speaker.
- 16 Obama Administration officials will speak during this graduation season, such as Michelle Obama, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Energy Secretary Steven Chu. In contrast, only 14 Bush Administration officials spoke at graduation ceremonies during the entire eight years of the Bush presidency.
- Speakers included media heavyweights such as Katie Couric, Tom Brokaw, CNN’s Fareed Zakaria and Sanjay Gumpta, but no one like Laura Ingraham (who clerked at the Supreme Court for Clarence Thomas, as well as being a successful radio host), or Rush Limbaugh, whose influence from his radio show is significant, or Hugh Hewitt, who worked for the Reagan Administration at the White House and the Justice Department.
- Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York City spoke at two universities (Cornell and the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill). Because Mayor Bloomberg has actively supported the nefarious policy of his NYC Department of Education that bans religious groups from meeting for worship services in New York City public schools, those schools should have bypassed Mayor Bloomberg and instead invited New York City Councilman Fernando Cabrera, who has led the fight to abolish the NYC policy. Better to invite an advocate of religious liberty than invite one who is actively suppressing freedom of speech.
- Dr. Ben Carson, the noted neurosurgeon and African-American Christian, spoke amid controversy at Emory University. Although Dr. Carson is highly regarded and is enormously successful in his field of neurosurgery, that did not stop nearly 500 faculty, alumni and students from signing a letter criticizing the selection of Dr. Carson because he has expressed support for creationism and doubt about evolution. But Emory had invited Dr. Carson to give a commencement address, not to lecture on creationism. This points to an ugly ideological litmus test that speakers must pass before they can speak at the prestigious graduation podium.
Of course, private universities can choose their own ideological emphasis. But it is tragic that public universities in general show lock-step conformity with liberal and secularist values (note the dearth of conservatives at state university graduations). Combine that with the liberal academics’ penchant to suppress dissident views and freedom of speech with speech codes, speech zones, viewpoint-suppressing “nondiscrimination policies,” and we have at both private and state universities, not marketplaces of ideas, but centers of coercion focused on rigid liberal ideology, thought control of wayward student thinking and converting them to “the right way of thinking.