College Thread:

I get occasional emails and personal inquiries regarding which, if any, elite colleges are "safe" for politically active and or outspoken conservatives and libertarian students in the sense that students and faculty will generally treat them respectfully, even if they are a small minority, and that they won't need to worry about being hauled before disciplinary committees because they said something politically incorrect that allegedly offended someone. Unfortunately, my knowledge of college life is almost twenty years out of date, but I'm sure VC readers have some ideas. Please comment below, and in the future I'll refer my inquiries to these comments.

TomHynes (mail):
Dartmouth has a long tradition of outspoken conservatives and libertarians. I heard a rumor that one of the trustees is a libertarian blogger.
3.29.2006 1:17pm
Nowhere is "safe." The liberal thought police are everywhere and are out to get you.
3.29.2006 1:19pm
This is a smart approach to take, as surely the list of "safe" colleges is far shorter than the list of "unsafe" ones.
3.29.2006 1:21pm
The Human Fund (mail):
Washington and Lee has a reputation for being conservative.
3.29.2006 1:22pm
Davidson College (my alma mater).
3.29.2006 1:24pm
Christopher C (mail):
Liberty University, BYU, Bob Jones, all bastions of conservative "thought."
3.29.2006 1:27pm
That Guy (mail):
Washington and Lee also has a reputation for being hospitable to the entire spectrum of viewpoints, not just conservative or libertarian ones.
3.29.2006 1:30pm
I am a recent graduate of University of Pennsylvania and a libertarian. While there is no denying that conservatives and libertarians are a minority on campus, I think Penn is a very comfortable environment for conservatives and libertarians. I think a large reason for this is that the Wharton School(both the graduate and undergraduate divisions) has a huge influence on the culture of the school. I would definitely recommend Penn to any conservative or libertarian looking at colleges.
3.29.2006 1:32pm
Dartmouth '05:
Dartmouth has a very active conservative student minority. Several departments have openly conservative professors, and many liberal professors are respectful of conservative perspectives. I don't know why anyone would want to spend four years in a self-assuring conservative environment. It's great fun to defend one's ideas and beliefs, and in my mind, that's a key part of a liberal arts education.
3.29.2006 1:36pm
Glenn Bridgman (mail):
I attend dartmouth college, and I haven't had any problems espousing libertarian thought.

More broadly,this type of thinking is harmful. I've found that people are, in general, suprisingly fairminded, and if you put forth your arguments in a reasonable fashion, you'll get a relatively unbiased hearing. You won't neccesarily find *agreement*, but what can you do? One of my favorite prof's here is a feminist hyper-leftist. We agree about very little, but that in noway precludes a fruitful intellectual exchange. Of course, use common sense; some classes are going to be less tolerant than others, but that's just how it is.
3.29.2006 1:36pm
Goober (mail):
Brown, Harvard and Berkeley are all "safe" for conservatives. God, you people are such whiners.
3.29.2006 1:37pm
The U. of Michigan has had their attempts at speech codes struck down multiple times, so being dragged before a board there is unlikely.
3.29.2006 1:37pm
Amber (mail) (www):
Claremont McKenna College.
3.29.2006 1:39pm
Hyphen (mail):
Intercollegiate Studies Institute publishes a book called "Choosing the Right College" which is very useful in identifying "safe" and potentially "unsafe" schools for conservatives.
3.29.2006 1:40pm
"God, you people are such whiners."

Of course we are Goober, Mr. Block's study of Berkeley children said so...
3.29.2006 1:41pm
Hey Goober, tell that to the people who ran an "affirmative action bake sale" at Berkeley that were assaulted. And then condemned by the University (because, you know, some ideas just can't be expressed, and "provocation" is a problem....)
3.29.2006 1:41pm
Neema (mail):
Vanderbilt has no problem with conservatives, and a facebook search will yield more conservatives than liberals.
3.29.2006 1:45pm
Humble Law Student:
Notre Dame (or it that self-evident)
3.29.2006 1:45pm
Humble Law Student:
3.29.2006 1:45pm
Mr. T.:
I agree with goober. Conservatives are not as persecuted as you make it sound. If you're a thoughtful, principled conservative and treat people with respect, you will be respected (except by that minority who are real jerks, who are present everywhere). If you go around doing an Ann Coulter impersonation, you will not be as respected; however, the secret police will not arrive at the door of your dorm room at midnight to take you away.
3.29.2006 1:51pm
Anna (mail):
I'm a recent Wellesley grad, and consider myself fairly centrist/libertarian, which made me fairly rightwing there. I had to join the college Republicans to have any sort of intellectual community. For all that we were a tiny minority, the debate wound up pretty good. That said, there were at least two professors whose classes I avoided like the plague. Then again, at least two of my favorite (center-right) professors have the same reaction from other students at my Alma Mater.
3.29.2006 1:52pm
C.T. (mail):
Grove City College is generally a very conservative college, one whose economics department is predominantly libertarian i.e. upholding the theories of Mises.
3.29.2006 1:53pm
Matt Tievsky (mail):
University of Chicago. Maybe not a surprise. ;)

In my third year, I took an environmentalist philosophy class. Out of about nine students, I was the only non-environmentalist, and the professor made no attempt to hide that she shared their views. Those first few classes were the only time I really felt intimidated.

Fortunately, even though she wasn't a great teacher, she was fair. She repeatedly asked for my view just to keep things balanced. That, in a nutshell, represents how I felt at Chicago.
3.29.2006 1:55pm
Defending the Indefensible:
It's remarkable that conservatives control all branches of government and most state houses, but they still won't feel safe unless they can also go to a school where they might be protected from any disagreement.
3.29.2006 1:56pm
Robert L:
I attended Duke University, and while the administration there is undoubtedly liberal they have been surprisingly good about not restricting student freedoms (and I have been watching). My guess is that the student body there is fairly moderate, and I never had much of a problem finding conservatives there or being a conservative there. Sure, there were disagreements, and some attempts to censor the conservative paper (although that was more about criticism of the administration) but I don't think discipline was ever really comtemplated.
3.29.2006 1:57pm
q.10 (www):
I'm not sure that the liberal thought police make things noticeably less safe for conservatives and libertarians than for anybody else. I was a reasonably loud and obnoxious libertarian student at an infamously leftist school (Swarthmore College) for four years, and in that time, I was mostly left alone. When I did something especially confrontational, I occasionally encountered reasoned disagreement, or more rarely puerile counter-criticism, but no coherent effort was never made to silence me or take any kind of retribution, either through organized student action or through the administration. I knew a few people in the student evangelical Christian group, which at one point brought in an ex-gay advocate of some sort, and their experience was similar - plenty of heckling, some of it less than civil, but nothing ‘unsafe’. I also never thought that my political views put me in danger of retribution in my coursework, but I was a math major, so this doesn't say much about the more general environment.

Now, to be sure, there were lots of ways in which the environment and the tone of discourse made things uncomfortable for conservative and libertarian students. there were also some leftist thought-policing activities, both administrative and social, but these victimized people much less on the basis of their substantive political views than on the basis of arbitrary takings of offense at activities that were not intended to be political in any way. I have no reason to believe that students to the political right were singled out by this process.
3.29.2006 1:59pm
Scott Scheule (mail) (www):
Jesus Christ, there is nothing more pathetic than hearing people manufacture persecution where none exists. Yes, we are outnumbered in some schools. Big deal--we're not discriminated against: quite the opposite, I've found people often eager to hear opposing viewpoints (so long as you can intelligibly communicate them). This petty whining hurts our case considerably: it signifies weakness and immaturity, and we should be aware of that.
3.29.2006 2:03pm
The River Temoc (mail):
This whole notion of choosing a "safe" environment is a bunch of hooey.

First off, assuming for the sake of argument that mainstream universities (e.g., the Harvards and Berkeleys and Browns of this world) are inhospitable to conservatives -- and more on that below -- if you're unwilling to stand up for your ideas openly, what good are they? The bottom line is that no one is being silenced or censored at any of these places.

Second, I don't think these universities are so inhospitable to conservatives and libertarians -- which, to remind everyone, are not the same thing. I attended law school at Berkeley. The Federalist Society events always attracted a big turnout, and people were generally respectful, even if they disagreed with the speaker.

Yes, occasionally in class someone would make a shrill or idiotic point. To take one example, at one point in property class I argued against the concept of rent control, which has demonstrably been a disaster in the Bay Area. The stunning pro-rent control counterpoint was "how can you possibly say that!?" Which pretty much demonstrated to any disinterested parties just who prevailed in that debate.
3.29.2006 2:03pm
Chick School Grad:
While there were bad moments, in general I found Mt. Holyoke to be reasonably friendly to my conservative views. All of the conservatives I went to school with have gone on to become activists of sorts. We're actually grateful for the challenge of attending a liberal women's college in Massachusetts. Most of the professors were at least reasonably amused by our presence.

I will also say that they have a new dean and I'm not sure how friendly he is to conservatives.
3.29.2006 2:07pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
DB: Are any elite colleges safe for the elite?

Cry me a river.
3.29.2006 2:20pm
Justin (mail):
I went to both Columbia and Michigan, and obviously neither of these schools have pro-conservative reputations.

In neither school, however, would any conservative "need to worry about being hauled before disciplinary committees because they said something politically incorrect that allegedly offended someone," though I assume that if their actions went beyond political speech (such as defacement, tresspassing, or the more traditional form of harrassment), they would of course be subject to punishment.

Furthermore, I'm unsure what you mean by "that students and faculty will generally treat them respectfully." When conservatives state things that liberals find outrageous or outlandish, I do not think the liberal has any obligation, or indeed has any honest ability, to treat the idea with "respect" in the sense of reasonable people with reasonable differences. Also, when conservatives do things that are intentionally disrespectful to certain groups (i.e. imply that their African-American classmates are relatively dumb, or that their liberal professors support genocide), I see no reason why they should expect "respect" in the social sense in return.

I'm not sure how that would apply in other cases, but it seems like the only way to avoid being penalized for harrassment or being disrespected for making disrespectful statements is to go to school where the harrassed or disrespected targets are basically an unwelcome minority. But to redescribe this as a free speech issue, when this is more of simply an issue about where "misfits" (most conservatives, I take it, have no interest in offending or harrassing people) will fit in, I think is disingenuous.

Postscript: Surely there are anecdotal evidence of liberals, including liberal administrators, overprotecting harrassment or taking their disrespect too far. We can also come up with anecdotal evidence both ways about how a conservative did not get in trouble for doing something blatently against a speech neutral policy.

But if all you're going to end up showing is that conservatives are going to feel like an uncomfortable minority at certain small liberal arts colleges such as Skidmore (the vast majority of people at Michigan and Columbia were basically apolitical - at my fraternity at Michigan of 107 people, for instance, there were about 10 people whose politics I knew, and most of those were conservative), I'm not sure common sense would dictate any other result.
3.29.2006 2:20pm
Jade (mail):
goober, Mr. T, Defending the Indefensible and Scott Scheule make good points. The whining of conservatives who control all three branches of government is truly a spectacle. The idea that they would choose a school based on being "safe" from alternative points of view is horrifying. Surely encouraging Ann Coulter-style verbal assaults isn't the aim for "safety"? Please tell me conservatives are looking for an education including civil debate with others who also wish to learn?! Ye gods, a "safe" school!
3.29.2006 2:22pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
Justin: Funny you should say "Michigan"; see Doe v. University of Michigan as to whether people who express certain views there have had "to worry about being hauled before disciplinary committees because they said something politically incorrect that allegedly offended someone." Of course, if Michigan has improved since then, I'm delighted to hear it.
3.29.2006 2:25pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

It's remarkable that conservatives control all branches of government and most state houses, but they still won't feel safe unless they can also go to a school where they might be protected from any disagreement.
It isn't a desire to be protected from disagreement. It is a desire to be protected from retaliation by professors for holding different values.

My wife and I attended Sonoma State University to get our BA and MA (hers in English, mine in History). As a general rule, most professors, even if on the left end of the political spectrum, were fair. But especially in those classes which are mandatory because they are primarily political agitation in scholarly disguise (Women's Studies, ethnic studies), this was often NOT the case.

My wife took a Women's Studies class required to meet one of the general education requirements. The professor assigned a paper about how racial minorities and women have a lot in common--both members of oppressed groups--you know, all the traditional leftist arguments. The assignment was to critically analyze the paper. That's what my wife did--she pointed out the areas where this argument worked, and where it failed. For example, most women grow up in middle class or above homes, and get comparable food, medical care, and educational opportunities as their brothers--unlike the situation for blacks, who are disproportionately in poorer homes, with consequent disadvantages relative to whites.

The professor just couldn't handle this--a student who actually followed the assignment, and did a critical analysis of the paper. I sat outside the office when they got together to discuss the lousy grade the professor gave her for this paper--and it was apparent that the professor simply did not want to hear that the situations were not exactly analogous.

From that point on, my wife was invisible in class. The professor would say, "Any questions?" My wife would raise her hand. "Good. We'll move on." And this was a class of about 20 students, so the professor didn't miss her.

Now, leftists might not want to admit it, but some leftist professors engage in truly inappropriate behavior in the classroom, driven by political needs. My wife's view is that for too many professors, the classroom is a form of therapy--a way to overcome their emotional problems.
3.29.2006 2:26pm
GMUSL 2L (mail):
Justin, I had some of the right-of-center and Pro-Israel events I ran on campus disrupted by protestors numerous times. Talking about it with Earl Hall, they said that security could not make even a disruptive heckler leave an event unless there was a threat of physical violence.
3.29.2006 2:29pm
Bob Neer:
I am a student at Columbia. There is a wide spectrum of beliefs on campus and conservative viewpoints are well represented. In my experience, although debate is vigorous it is almost always accompanied with respect, and respect for a diversity of views is definitely the prevailing ethic of the institution as a whole.
3.29.2006 2:32pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

I agree with goober. Conservatives are not as persecuted as you make it sound. If you're a thoughtful, principled conservative and treat people with respect, you will be respected (except by that minority who are real jerks, who are present everywhere). If you go around doing an Ann Coulter impersonation, you will not be as respected; however, the secret police will not arrive at the door of your dorm room at midnight to take you away.
Sorry to disappoint you, but there's enough counterexamples like this one, where a student was threatened with expulsion for saying (off campus, and in now way connected to the university) that certain actions were "subhuman," It isn't the sort of language that I would use, but let's not pretend that the left doesn't use the threat of explusion to maintain Political Correctness.
3.29.2006 2:33pm
I fully agree that this thread is totally inane. Chances are, anywhere you want to go is "safe" enough for any conservative who cares to actually defend their views to people who disagree -- college liberals are more fairminded than you, Professor Bernstein, or Sean Hannity might believe. Sure, if you're just inclined to vote conservative, but only because that's what your parents do, or what people from your town do, then don't go to Vassar or Oberlin, the pervasive politically liberal vibe is probably not what you're looking for, but those schools probably weren't on your list to begin with.

A thread in this vein would be more useful to ask for examples of schools that are so totally intolerant and stifling of conservsative views that conservative graduates would have decided to go elsewhere if they had to do it all over again.

And another thing, Prof. Bernstein, what qualifies as an "elite" school in your view? Are we talking US News? Ivy League?

Last question: At which schools are conservative students being hauled before disciplinary boards for espousing their (perhaps minority) views?
3.29.2006 2:34pm
Thanks to CC for the example. But Duquesne is probably not an elite school according to Prof. Bernstein, and this thread asked for "elite" schools.
3.29.2006 2:37pm
Sarah (mail) (www):
You know, there is something to be said for an environment where people are like-minded. I don't think it's necessary to be in a hostile environment to learn or even challenge your current ideas. If anything, an overly combative environment can breed a tendency to value "winning" over finding the truth.

Grove City
St. Thomas Aquinas (in CA)

Are my three favorites. BYU and BYU-Idaho are pretty conservative, but also obviously very LDS -- far more than at Thomas Aquinas (a Catholic school) you'll need to adhere to LDS doctrine (no drinking, no mixed sex apartments, etc.) to stay enrolled. Hillsdale and Grove City are formally non-denomiational, but a prevailing sense of Christianity exists both in their promotional materials and on campus.

But only about 3,800 kids can attend those schools -- Thomas Aquinas had I think 275 students when I was shopping colleges in 1996; Hillsdale has about 1,200 students and Grove City 2,300.

Hillsdale and Grove City have the additional plus of taking no federal funds. Or at least they did in 1996, IIRC.

I'm sure there was a National Review guide to colleges out there someplace; that's how I found out about Grove City (I knew about Hillsdale because we lived in Michigan.)

St. John's (in New Mexico and Annapolis) is very rigorous in terms of academic work, and I cannot imagine them even having a committee to be dragged in front of, but the overall "vibe" isn't particularly conservative. I was 15 when I did my college visits and the students there scared me (in part because they were all smoking in public -- I was raised in a post-cigarettes-are-evil California.) They don't exactly work like a regular college, though; you don't get to pick your own classes or major.

[These colleges are also all very friendly to homeschooled students, which is why I looked at them - in retrospect, I think I ought to have gone to any of those four schools, or one of the BYUs, instead of Ohio State, though I'm quite proud to be a Buckeye.]
3.29.2006 2:41pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
The bottom line is that no one is being silenced or censored at any of these places.
Maybe you ought to familiarize yourself with FIRE, which can be found at They handle censorship across the political spectrum, not merely against conservatives, but there are plenty of examples of the latter.

In fact, people who do not fit the political orthodoxy of some campuses are routinely silenced or censored. Brought up on charges of violating vague speech codes. Etc. As someone above noted, the response to the affirmative action bake sales is often nothing short of hysterical.
3.29.2006 2:41pm
Go Bruins!:
At the same time as Ben Shapiro was convincing himself that UCLA indoctrinates leftism in its students, I took four pre-law classes taught by a Berkeley-educated gay socialist. The final exams were similar to those in law school: it was about how you thought, not what you thought. I wrote conservative answers on all my exams (including one on the ADA and one on affirmative action in higher education) and received all A's.

How could the self-admitted most liberal lecturer in a liberal social science department hand out A's for a conservative test answer? Perhaps universities actually reward solid thinking and the Ben Shapiro's and David Bernstein's of the world are fallaciously using a few rotten apples to prove a poisonous tree.
3.29.2006 2:47pm
As a conservative, I think this is mostly whining, but whining with a tiny grain of truth. I went to Princeton, and I had exactly two instructors who gave me a hard time or made me feel out of place -- although I wasn't sure if it was due to my southern accent, or to my conservative views; probably it was some of both.

2 out of my 70-odd professors and preceptors (T.A.'s for you non-Princetonians) is nothing. I guarantee you that in most situations, more than 3% of the people I meet are hostile and unpleasant or otherwise not interested in civil debate.
3.29.2006 2:51pm
Preferred Customer:
EV wrote:

Justin: Funny you should say "Michigan"; see Doe v. University of Michigan as to whether people who express certain views there have had "to worry about being hauled before disciplinary committees because they said something politically incorrect that allegedly offended someone." Of course, if Michigan has improved since then, I'm delighted to hear it.

My experience with Michigan was more recent than the cited case, though not as recent as I sometimes wish (sigh). Still, while I found that "conservative" or "libertarian" viewpoints were not generally shared by my classmates or by my professors, I didn't take that as a negative (and there were certainly instances where the professor was more conservative than I).

As others have said, the need to critically examine and provide argument for those beliefs was very, very useful--it caused me to sharpen my beliefs, or (in some cases), modify them where they turned out to not stand up to scrutiny.

Isn't that what college is about? Challenging your own pre-conceptions? You know, learning something? I'd hate to have gone someplace "safe" for college.
3.29.2006 2:55pm
Thief (mail) (www):
In addition to the ISI guidebook, another good resource for students concerned about suppression of speech is the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. (FIRE'S website) They maintain a comprehensive archive of cases and incidents they've handled. A school with a lot of entries, I would say, is one to be avoided.

P.S. I would recommend those who think that conservatives are "making this all up" to take a quick jaunt through FIRE's archive's too.
3.29.2006 2:59pm
Ms Glass:
not columbia or barnard, where i went, certainly. hillsdale college leaps to mind.
3.29.2006 3:02pm
Dustin R. Ridgeway (mail):
If so many are indeed writing to Mr. Bernstein about this, than this goes beyond the usual whininess &self-pity customary of modern conservatives, &really strikes at the fact that modern conservatives have institutionalized a sense of oppression, martyrdom &cult of victimization not different from any other traditional practitioners of identity politics.
3.29.2006 3:03pm
Michigan has about 40,000 undergraduates and many more graduate students. It is truly remarkable how some people can draw the conclusion that conservatives are "routinely silenced" based upon a handful of anecdotes, but please, don't let me stand in the way of anyone's persecution complex.
3.29.2006 3:06pm
Michigan has about 40,000 undergraduates and many more graduate students.

Those numbers sound high to me.
3.29.2006 3:16pm
Quarterican (mail):
Seriously, could Mr. Bernstein clarify what he means by "elite"? Presumably BYU, though a fine school, isn't it, unless by elite he means "not [as one of my father's law professors had it] East Jesus State Tech".

Of schools in the top 1 to 1.5 tiers, depending on your perspective, I'd say Chicago and Dartmouth fit what Mr. Bernstein had in mind, though I would personally consider any school in that tier "safe". I got my BA from Chicago in '05, to provide a frame of reference (Matt Tievsky, we know each other; if you're not sure who I am, drop me an email as I'd prefer to stay anonymous). I chose not to apply to Dartmouth after judging some of their promotional materials to be insulting. I guess I'm lucky; if I weren't a card carrying member of the liberal orthodoxy I couldn't afford to have been so choosy.
3.29.2006 3:19pm
Abe Delnore:
Surely there is a better way to gather this sort of information that to issue a call for anecdotes!

In my experience as a student and instructor at a university that almost anyone would consider elite, it seemed to me that there were two types of students:

1. Students who were there to learn and, thus, worked diligently. They were rewarded regardless of their own or their instructor's ideology, with few exceptions, all regrettable.

2. Students who were there to laze through four years at Mom and Dad's expense. These students often hid their laziness behind pretended conviction. When asked to write about a text they did not care to read or think about very hard, they would usually seize on some line from the first few pages and then write five pages about author bias. Attempts to encourage deeper engagement were frequently countered by accusations that the instructor shared the author's bias. Thus self-styled campus progressives were always going on about racism and classism while their conservative counterparts blamed everything on liberal professors.

In this regard, "Conservatives" (or "classical liberals" as they often called themselves owing to the particular history of the university in question) were particularly destructive both of selves and of the learning process as their educations tended to be narrow. Any attempt to move beyond, for example, presidents and generals as objects of study in American history was instantly subject to the charge that the instructor was shortchanging "real history" in order to be "politically correct." Well, the simple fact is that a high school senior who is elite college material knows just about all he or she needs to about generals and presidents but probably won't have much grounding in other topics: conditions of ordinary people, history of other regions, etc. But to the closed mind, the attempt to move beyond what the student found comfortable becomes ideologically suspect.

"Liberals" had their own problems. But to my mind this goes a long way to explaining student complaints.
3.29.2006 3:21pm
Claremont McKenna College is probably the best college in the country for active conservatives and especially for libertarians. The near parity between numbers of liberal and conservative/libertarians among the student body and among professors leads to a lively political discussion on campus that is generally quite respectful. CMC also has strong economics and political science (known as Government at CMC) departments, which is probably a plus for most students who are seriously interested in this question.
3.29.2006 3:26pm
Chris Lawrence (mail) (www):
Well, libertarian and conservative students at Duke are safe, so long as they are willing to listen to me relentlessly mock David Horowitz and the leadership of the local SAF chapter. Alas, nobody has bothered to file a complaint against me for doing so.

Of course, I relentlessly mock most people and institutions on a regular basis, so it's not like I'm picking on SAF in particular...
3.29.2006 3:27pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
Thanks for the suggestions. "Elite," is obviously in the eye of the beholder, but the folks in my social circle are generally looking for private (or top public, like U. Michigan), non-sectarian, liberal arts colleges.
3.29.2006 3:35pm
DJ (mail):
Not Cornell.
3.29.2006 3:38pm
Defending the Indefensible:
David Bernstein writes:
I would consider the following actions disrepectful, or worse: ... (2) having someone come up to your girlfriend, while your standing right next to her, and asking, "are you his girlfriend?" and when she says, "yes," responding, "do you realize he's a Republican?"
Sounds like it could be a pick-up line, but it's hard to know the inflection this was said with. In any case, if you are looking for a place where nobody might ever disrespect you, I don't think it's realistic. Even if such a campus exists, how would this prepare a student for the real world?

If you are going to engage in political advocacy, you should expect and learn how to deal well with opposition, even when it isn't as respectful of your point of view as you'd like. Obviously if everyone agreed with you, there would be no reason to advocate, so it's an important lesson to learn.

On that note, many people don't hold political viewpoints which carry a mainstream at any campus. What elite colleges are "safe" for politically active and or outspoken anarchists?
3.29.2006 3:50pm
I'm currently at Penn, and even though the environment is pretty leftist, in my experience the school has never tried to censor any speech or make conservatives/libertarians feel unwelcome. Some events that have been shut down or heavily protested at places like NYU and Yale proceeded uninterrupted here.
3.29.2006 3:53pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
I know it sounds almost absurd, but I can assure you that the student who asked this question (a well-known campus left-wing activist) asked it sincerely, as in "do you know he's a Republican? And if you know, how could you possibly go out with him?
3.29.2006 3:54pm
Shangui (mail):
One big problem with this request is that DB wants places that are open to both conservative and libertarian viewpoints. Well, they ain't the same. A true vocal libertarian would find a far more welcoming environment at Brown or Berkeley than he or she would at Bob Jones or Liberty University. Just see how open they are to libertarian ideas on, say, prostitution, drugs, pornography, etc. Now obviously the situation would be very different for a religious conservative. But for the record, I went to a place considered slightly left of Mao, was an open libertarian, and had no problems either in classes or writing for the school paper, etc. If anything, such an environment is great for people on the right (in some sense) because you have to constantly defend your ideas. Students with typical leftist view, by contrast, can easily become intellectually flabby as they never really have to think about challenges to what they believe.
3.29.2006 3:54pm
If you are looking for a college which can guarantee a lack of rude confrontations with another student, I'm not sure what to say about that. Would a "tolerant" college have swooped down on the student who confronted Prof. Bernstein's girlfriend and declared, "You can't say that"? One hopes not.

I wonder if liberal blogs feature people asking for the names of colleges where there are no affirmative action bake sales, because they dislike witnessing antagonistic behavior by those not ideologically aligned.
3.29.2006 3:55pm
Defending the Indefensible:
David Bernstein wrote:
I know it sounds almost absurd, but I can assure you that the student who asked this question (a well-known campus left-wing activist) asked it sincerely, as in "do you know he's a Republican? And if you know, how could you possibly go out with him?
I believe you, but I still can't understand why it would upset you so much. If your girlfriend was comfortable with your politics, she'd probably scoff at the guy, and the two of you might have a good laugh about it. If she wasn't comfortable with your politics, maybe the guy did you a favor by helping both of you move on to someone more compatible.
3.29.2006 4:03pm
Chris Lawrence (mail) (www):
Steve: Well, there is that set of college rankings for bleeding-hearts assembled by Washington Monthly, although I don't think there was a count of bake sales as one of the categories...
3.29.2006 4:06pm
Humble Law Student:
Time to hijack this thread. Forget whether conservatives are welcome or not. The true travesty is that Harvard has slipped to 3rd!!! (according to the leaked USNWR 2007)
3.29.2006 4:08pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
Well, I was used to this sort of thing by then, but my girlfriend was surprised, upset, and bemused. As for Steve, campuses have cultures, and some campuses are more tolerant of dissenting views than others; nothing to do with censoring anyone. And please note that the examples I gave were just examples, I could go on and on. When you have that many incidents over three years, is not a question of rude individuals, it's a question of campus culture.
3.29.2006 4:11pm
Mr. T.:
At any rate, I will offer Johns Hopkins as an elite school that is "safe" for conservatives. I remember Antonin Scalia, Newt Gingrich and Phyllis Schlafly speaking on campus without disruption, although more recently I heard that Coulter was booed off the stage.
It's not a fun place to go to school, but politics doesn't enter into that calculation. I take the point of the Duquesne example cited above; however I am deeply unmoved by the plight of the kid who was criticized in front of his girlfriend.
3.29.2006 4:22pm
JoshL (mail):
Agreeing with RJT towards the beginning about Penn's openness. Wharton is pretty conservative in its own right, and that spills over into some of the other departments. There's also a large presence of Orthodox Jews, who often tilt Republican and lend a stronger conservative presence than you'll find at a lot of other universities. There are also none of the star leftists from other schools- no Juan Cole like at Michigan or Rashid Khalidi or Joseph Masaad like at Columbia (the closest you'll find is Ian Lustick). Penn does have a history of free speech codes landing it in hot water (see the Water Buffalo incident from '93 or the photographs of people having sex against a window from this fall), but that seems to have been mitigated somewhat as of late.
3.29.2006 4:36pm
keatssycamore (mail) (www):
Just home school. Worked for Ben Domenech.
3.29.2006 4:38pm
Defending the Indefensible:
David Bernstein:
Well, I was used to this sort of thing by then, but my girlfriend was surprised, upset, and bemused.
Since you're complaining about it, though, it seems it must have upset you as well. And I'm sure you can think of countless other insults you've suffered, as could probably anyone else, if not for our political beliefs then for something else. It's just life. Unless someone is actually threatening you with force, I don't see the big deal.

Do you know of a campus where conservatives are in reasonable fear of actual violence for their political beliefs?
3.29.2006 4:41pm
Preferred Customer:

One big problem with this request is that DB wants places that are open to both conservative and libertarian viewpoints. Well, they ain't the same. A true vocal libertarian would find a far more welcoming environment at Brown or Berkeley than he or she would at Bob Jones or Liberty University. Just see how open they are to libertarian ideas on, say, prostitution, drugs, pornography, etc.

This is also a very good point. Someone mentioned Hillsdale--that might be a good fit for someone who is very socially conservative, not only in terms of their politics but in terms of their outlook on things like should women be allowed to have men visit them in their dorms (at Hillsdale, at least when I visited, the answer was no). I doubt a true libertarian would last more than 5 minutes in that place before getting booted or running away screaming.

Of course, this brings up the age-old question of why libertarians and social conservatives have any connection at all, given their differences in outlook on everything that doesn't involve money (and many things that do). That's a question for another thread.

I also agree with the posters who note that the actions of individual students are not necessarily representative of the campus as a whole. To paraphrase a well known movie, at a school like Mich., you've got lots of cliques--sportos, motorheads, geeks, sluts, bloods, wastoids, dweebies, d***heads, etc. Unless you're Ferris Bueller, not all of them are likely to think you are a righteous dude.
3.29.2006 4:47pm
DJ (mail):
Just to be clear, I meant that Cornell is not "safe" (as I understand the term) for conservatives. But it is certainly elite.
3.29.2006 4:48pm
B. B.:
I was at Michigan not all that long ago, and it seemed to me that a vast majority of the campus thought just as little of the BAMN people as they did those who did those dumb 'affirmative action bake sales.' (Neither of which ever were shut down to my knowledge, though the BAMN protests tended to be louder and more annoying even to this 'liberal' student).

If you're asking for confrontation, you'll get it wherever you go to school, and the loons on one side or the other will be all over you. In my experience a vast, vast majority of UMich students just want to go to class, drink sangria at Dominick's on warm fall and spring days or go to football and/or hockey games, and could generally care less about your politics. I never heard anyone I knew complain that a professor penalized them for what their political values were.
3.29.2006 4:52pm
DavidBernstein (mail):

I'm afraid you're missing the point. I wasn't traumatized by my time at Brandeis, and I'm sure most conservative-types are not traumatized by being treated disrepectfully at other schools. Still, it's more pleasant, and much more conducive to learning something from your fellow students, to be treated respectfully than disrepectfully. For example, several posters have identified Penn as a school where conservatives are treated respectfully. Many students, at least in my day, chose between Brandeis and Penn, which at least in those days had very similar average LSATs, and relatively similar demographics (i.e., lots of Jews from the N.E.). A conservative 17 year old trying to choose between Brandeis and Penn would certainly find it relevant to know that students with his views are not treated respectfully at Brandeis, but are at Penn. Why expose yourself to more unpleasantness than you need to? I tend to be a combative type anyway, so these sorts of things don't wear me down. But there are shyer types who want to be able to discuss and debate their ideas without repercussions, so why shouldn't they want to know on which campuses they will be treated most nicely?
3.29.2006 4:52pm
dan bagdassarian (mail):
Perhaps those on the right would do well to emulate those on the left: For decades, students have marched for and been granted separate departments, schools, and even dining and housing facilities and, most spectacular of all, dedicated admissions offices.

Possibly those institutions that DB means, i.e., the most academically challenging (or those formerly so), would follow the path that they have taken with blacks, women, Spanish-speakers (but NOT those from Spain!), musselmen, homosexuals, and even athletic greats to form a separate institution on campus for classic conservatives/libertarians.

No expensive or time-consuming studies would be needed. Simply institute the curriculum of an elite school c. 1930.

You know, wild and crazy stuff like the classics, Western Civilization, art history (pre-Jesus urine bottle performance art), literature measured by greatness rather than the backgrounds of the writers, and so forth.

To add icing to the cake, how about seperate sex housing facilities with feather beds and dining halls that feature well cooked traditional foods--no wheat grass/tofurky casseroles, etc.

Why not give it a go?
3.29.2006 5:01pm
Mike Smitherson:
From my experience (4 years out of undergraduate), most people in college were worried about obtaining beer, having a good time, and getting decent grades with minimal work, not politics. Of course, some students were involved in political groups on and off campus, but even most of them were laid back and would party/socialize with anyone. In light of my personal experience, I find it hard to believe that there are colleges where the majority-liberal student body forms lynch mobs and patrols the campus at night with torches and pitchforks seeking out conservatives (I am speaking metaphorically, of course). I am not doubting that incidents happen, but I think most campuses are "safe" for conservatives and such incidents are very rare. If people react a certain way to outspoken conservatives, I think it is more because the person is outspoken, than because he is conservative -- the same way I look at LaRouche supporters who walk around chanting and pushing literature at everyone.
3.29.2006 5:01pm
Abdul (mail):
About ten years ago, I graduated from Bard College, home of the Alger Hiss Chair in Social Science, an avowed liberal institution. I was a conservative, mostly libertarian, and found much common ground with my fellow students. There were rude encounters (e.g., someone yelled that I was a "racist f***er" in the middle of the cafeteria), but I know that in my youth and brashness, I was responsible for at least half of them.

Stand your ground, be respectful, only debate politics when sober, and things are pretty safe.
3.29.2006 5:03pm
Avoid Penn State. The administration is not terribly oppressive, but the humanties and ethnic studies programs have loud voices and respond viciously to any alternate veiws. The environment is definitely intellectually suffocated.

On the other hand, my cousin at the University of Mobile reports an vibrant community where liberal, conservative and libertarian voices are treated with equal respct.
3.29.2006 5:06pm
Wen (mail):
Oh for heaven's sake. It's college. It should be the best time of a kid's life. Go to State. Have a blast. Study something useful like engineering or computer science or microbiology. The future renumeration is better and nobody cares about ideology. Life is short! College days, alas, are even shorter.
3.29.2006 5:12pm
anony (mail):
In general, I think the various Tech schools offer a good environment for lib/conservatives. Although most of the top tech schools lean left/liberal, the worst foaming at the mouth comes from the more po-mo subjects. Since engineers and physicists tend to look down on these extreme subjectivists the atmosphere for debate is more open. I also think that the more mathematically minded are generally more open to saying, "For the sake of argument..." and then discussing the issues dispassionately. Whereas at many universities, there are usually a few faculty extremists -- typically in the arts, lit, sociology, or some "studies" program -- that are more likely to engage in ad hominem attacks on the un PC.
3.29.2006 5:18pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
It is truly remarkable how some people can draw the conclusion that conservatives are "routinely silenced" based upon a handful of anecdotes,
You might want to do some reading on the first amendment doctrine known as "chilling effect."

How many "anecdotes" of a conservative being punished under a vague campus speech code for saying something conservative does it take to silence people?
3.29.2006 5:38pm
Charlie (mail):
My middle son is at Pepperdine, which has the complete spectrum of political veiws in both faculty and student body with a weighting toward religious-conservative. He is enjoying the range of opinion.

My oldest managed to keep his libertarian outlook intact despite attending probably the most radically liberal college in the country... Antioch in Yellow Springs, Ohio. It is so uniformly far left, no one ever thought to inquire (and he's not outspoken). He's probably the only vote George Bush ever got off that campus, although in 04 he voted for Badnarik.
3.29.2006 5:56pm
Cato (mail):
At least in the humanities and social sciences, I think that what people are really asking for when the want a 'conservative friendly' place is a college or university in which core courses, such as history, philosophy, political science and literature, will not be taught primarily from a post-modernist, revisionist, feminist or multicultural studies persepective, where they can learn what were (through the 1970s at least) mainstream interpretations of history, philosophy, and literature, etc., especially the Western canon, so that they are well-enough educated to make sense of the the perspectives of the more radical faculty.

I don't think that's such a bad idea. It's perfectly possible at most elite colleges and universities these days to go 4 years without hearing anything positive about Western civilization or America in the classroom.
3.29.2006 5:57pm
Study economics at the University of Chicago.
3.29.2006 5:58pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

Oh for heaven's sake. It's college. It should be the best time of a kid's life. Go to State. Have a blast. Study something useful like engineering or computer science or microbiology. The future renumeration is better and nobody cares about ideology.
Unfortunately, those non-ideological fields don't end up running the country. The people with law degrees do, because judges largely rule America. Yes, an engineering degree, or a computer science degree is more useful and productive. But with the left in charge, you are likely to be designing 21st century concentration camps for people that don't think correctly.
3.29.2006 6:14pm
My son attends St. Johns College (Annapolis, Santa Fe). He tells me that he has no idea whether his tutors (Professors) are politically liberal or conservative.
3.29.2006 6:30pm
Greedy Clerk (mail):
I know it sounds almost absurd, but I can assure you that the student who asked this question (a well-known campus left-wing activist) asked it sincerely, as in "do you know he's a Republican? And if you know, how could you possibly go out with him?

It does sound absurd, although I do not doubt that it is true. But so what? If someone said that to my girlfriend, I'd laugh in their face and be quite confident that my girlfriend would not pay it any mind. Guess what David: there are going to be jerks at every school. Sometimes, those jerks are going to be political jerks, whether from the right or from the left. Get over it — you sound like such a crybaby, it's pathetic. Your book raises some good issues, but it's posts like this and other similar whiny things in your book that make it hard to take you seriously as anything other than a guy who still hasn't gotten over the fact that a bunch of girls laughed at him once in elementary school or something.

The whole world is not against conservatives. The most prominent conservatives all when to these so-called elite schools with liberal biases, such as Harvard, Yale, Princeton, etc. Somehow, I think Scalia, Thomas, Bush (both of em) could handle it and I am not too worried that they may have had their feelings hurt once or twice. We all do. Funny how things have really changed —- it used to be the libs always bitching about how they got their feelings hurt. . . . .
3.29.2006 6:40pm
umich 3l anon:
james madison college (a small, residential, liberal arts/public affairs college inside of michigan state university) is fantastic for open debate--perhaps even slightly right-leaning. (and fantastic and molding debators as well: for the second time in three years, two jmc students won the national debate tournament.)

(while probably not considered "elite" just yet, it's still fairly young--having only been around for 30 years now, it's first set of graduates are just now coming into positions of power (e.g., 10th cir. judge michael mcconnell, bush's drug czar, and the first african american justice on the texas supreme court). but it's a definite rising star.)
3.29.2006 6:41pm
kristine (mail) (www):
I think many of the "national liberal arts colleges" (as categorized by US News) would fit this bill--with some obvious exceptions, such as Antioch.

I would also add that, while non-sectarian schools seem like they might be more open to a variety of perspectives, don't write off "sectarian" schools, insofar as that means "religiously affiliated."

The University of the South, for instance, is owned by the Episcopal Church (and doesn't, as far as I know, come down officially on either side of the gay priesthood issue), but offers a traditional liberal arts education that focuses very little on politics per se and more on stimulating students to ask the important questions and figure out their politics for themselves. That being said, political organizations do well on campus, and do so without acrimony.

That's my endorsement. The caveat is that a small, liberal arts education (particularly in a rural location) is not for everyone. Students who are politically inclined might be better served at a large university with more opportunities to get involved with national organizations.
3.29.2006 6:41pm
Greedy Clerk (mail):
Re Clayton's wife, with all due respect, have you considered the possibility that maybe she got a bad grade because she wrote a crappy paper? You know, sometimes that is the case, and many of these David Horowitz-esque stories of conservatives getting bad grades because of their political views turn out to be nothing of the sort.
3.29.2006 6:41pm
AnonymousCoward (mail):
David Bernstein wrote:

I know it sounds almost absurd, but I can assure you that the student who asked this question (a well-known campus left-wing activist) asked it sincerely, as in "do you know he's a Republican? And if you know, how could you possibly go out with him?

You mean there are 20-year-old college students who are insensitive and dogmatic? I'm shocked, shocked!

David, please. On any campus, you will find all manner of students who are insensitive and dogmatic about all manner of issues -- political affiliation, curricular requirements, taste in music, whatever. (God, if there is one thing I do not miss about college, it's watching people go nine rounds over whether to listen to Thelonious Monk or Steve Miller for the umpteenth time.) T.A.s and professors too, even. For that matter, you'll find bores of all ages, in all walks of life, although I think we can all probably agree that young adults tend to be somewhat more dogmatic than the more "life-seasoned" among us. Some campuses may have a few more than others, but the law of averages and the ultra-competitive nature of college admissions and faculty hiring these days guarantees that, at least at the elite schools about which you've asked, it's going to be more or less the same everywhere.

Let's suck it up, people.
3.29.2006 6:41pm
Orwell's Ghost (mail):
"Washington and Lee has a reputation for being conservative."

Faculties taking care of that. Student organizations can't even get Conservative speakers without going through faculty obstruction.

Give it 10 years and no longer.
3.29.2006 6:42pm
Greedy Clerk (mail):
judges largely rule America

This is a serious statement.

Yes, it was Justice Ginsburg that sent us to war in Iraq. Justice Thomas who decided to pass the prescription drug benefit. G-ddamn that Souter, he gave me a parking ticket the other day. And the reason my friend couldn't get a building permit was because some Judge on the Ninth Circuit denied it. And don't even get me started on the Sixth Circuit deciding to raise my taxes. . . .
3.29.2006 6:43pm
jtierney (mail):
I'm a senior at Brown, probably going to Chicago next year for a masters. Amid all the Brown-bashing, I would only point out that the super-liberal reputation the school has had for many years appears to be on the decline. The most "radically" leftist protest in recent memory was an anti-Darfur-genocide rally, hardly a contentious rallying point... similarly, you don't see the Young Communist League or the various anti-Israel groups passing out literature on the main green anymore, because they tend to get laughed at. On the flip side: some campus poll I recently saw suggested that 85% or so were liberal, about 8% libertarian, and another 3% conservative. While the conservative movement on campus is small, it's also vocal and proactive. To suggest that Brown isn't a "safe" place for conservatives to go is baseless. Independent of your political leanings, the school focuses on the individual, rather than some school-wide shared doctrine.

(This leads me to a question I've been thinking about. Is this shift away from the dreadlocked socialist punk indicative of a conscious effort on the part of admissions to accept more traditional students? Graduates who go off and work for Greenpeace don't tend to give a whole lot back to the school when the Alumni Fund comes calling.)
3.29.2006 7:48pm
Bezuhov (mail):
I think part of the problem here is a failure to communicate. To someone toward the left of the spectrum, conservative means Bull Connor with a mitre and a mandate. To people like our hosts, they may have something more like Locke and Smith in mind. The conern is that the ideas of Locke and Smith are shouted down, or worse, never broached, due to a failure of categorization.

If Locke is valued, then you'll have a more open environment for considering a diverse range of views. If he's mistakenly devalued by being mis-labeled "right-wing" when that means "oppressive", then we have a problem.
3.29.2006 8:25pm
Walk It:
" For example, several posters have identified Penn as a school where conservatives are treated respectfully. Many students, at least in my day, chose between Brandeis and Penn, which at least in those days had very similar average LSATs, and relatively similar demographics (i.e., lots of Jews from the N.E.) A conservative 17 year old trying to choose between Brandeis and Penn would certainly find it relevant to know that students with his views are not treated respectfully at Brandeis, but are at Penn. . "

You're mixing up your the personal anecdotes you're presenting as "facts" her, Sir. Generally, a conservative 17-year-old doing the choosing has not taken the LSAT, nor is applying to law schools, exceptions aside.

I really think you do both libertarians (which I really doubt you are truly -- you seem at heart too much afraid of freedom, imo) and conservatives a disservice with the continual "they're picking on me" whines. Victimology is not pretty, and I'm not sure if it's a trait you even recognize in yourself.

I really do agree with this, quoted above: "Get over it — you sound like such a crybaby, it's pathetic. Your book raises some good issues, but it's posts like this and other similar whiny things in your book that make it hard to take you seriously as anything other than a guy who still hasn't gotten over the fact that a bunch of girls laughed at him once in elementary school or something."

Just a thought: for such a successful man raised in elite social circles (your words, not mine), and surely not hurting financially, ummm... don't you think you are a little unhappy with your lot in life? Can you envision yourself being happy anywhere really? What circumstances would it take for you to get on with your life, no complaining about others, and achieve a measure of contentment?

Maybe these questions, not "where would libertarians and conservatives be safe?" are the bigger questions you should be concentrating on. Just a thought, from a non-elite, dismiss at the peril of still finding yourself in the same sadsack boat 20 years from now...
3.29.2006 8:36pm
Defending the *Undefendable* (mail):
When I went to Holy Cross, the economics dept. had many libertarian students ('93-'97).

While the department was moderate, it had at least one radical libertarian faculty member, Walter Block (who mandated that we write 1/2 our papers from the left and half our papers from the right)

In a relative sense, the administration did not now to PC standards as much as the "elite" schools. And I was never once hassled for being a conservative (which I now experience daily while living in SF) ;)
3.29.2006 9:08pm
davidbernstein (mail):
Thanks for the free psychoanalysis, Walkit, but I'm quite happy, thank you.

I'm going to guess that all the individuals telling conservatives and libertarian students to "get over it" wouldn't have a the same attitude about a gay student looking for somewhere where he's treated with respect, or a Muslim, or basically anyone else who is liable to be mistreated on a particular college campus. And before you jump all over me for making bad analogies (they're not, but let's get past that) would you tell someone who posted, "I live in the South and my daughter's an outspoken feminist, and she's looking for a school not too far from home where she'll be treated by fellow students with respect" to "get over it" "suck it up" and just go the nearest right-wing religious college to hone her ideology? I didn't think so.
3.29.2006 9:35pm
Justin (mail):
There's many differences between one's religious and sexual identity and their political identity.
3.29.2006 9:42pm
Bezuhov (mail):
And the burden would seem to be on you to argue why that difference is relevant to his question. Y'all can dismiss his concerns out of hand if you like, like Republicans dismiss the expressed concerns of African-Americans over residual racism despite clear success in other areas, but don't expect any better results than the latter achieve.
3.29.2006 10:28pm
Greedy Clerk (mail):
Umm, David, I will accept the analogy, and yes if the complaints were like yours I would say they were whining. If an outspoken gay guy says he is looking for a college where no one would ever come up to him and say something to the effect of "I can't believe you don't like chicks" or "I can't believe you do xxxx or xxxx" I would say they were a whiny little baby. In the real world, we all have to deal with some questioning of who we are especially if we are an outspoken person advertising the trait that people question. Same goes with the feminist or the Muslim. When we go to school, we should expect that we will be with a diverse group of people, some of whom will question our sexual orientation, our religion, our politics etc.

Of course, "being hauled before the disciplinary committee" because someone is gay, republican, muslim, etc. would not be acceptable. But I frankly do not believe this is as widespread as you and former-communist David Horowitz want to tell us it is. In fact, I doubt it happens much at all --- the idea that Yale and Harvard oppress the poor widdle conservatives is absurd. In the field I am most familiar with, the law, the most impressive and successful lawyers coming out of those schools for the last 20 years have disproportionately been conservatives. I don't know why that it is, but it is so give me a break that the schools that produced Scalia, Thomas, George W. Bush, etc. are schools that oppress the conservative. Almost every story I have heard about some poor wittle republican getting a bad gwade because they expressed their republican views has turned out to be a bunch of BS ---- like the guy who said his teacher gave him a bad grade for writing that Bush was a great president when it turned out that the assignment had nothign to do with what he was writing about. . . . . (I think you or another conspirator here wrote about this once and then had to append a correction when the actual essay got out.) I went to some of these schools, and when I went to these schools, I was very much a self-proclaimed conservative republican (I came to my senses a few years ago after seeing this lunatic George Bush in action). I never had a problem expressing my views, was never disciplined for my views, and did quite well in school. Yes, many of the profs were libs, and I thought many of their ideas were silly (I don't know what I'd think now), but never did I feel I was treated unfairly because of my then-political views, and if anything it helped because I was able to think outside the box and distinguish myself.

I repeat what I said above, you look like a bunch of whiny crybabies and sound ironically like the liberals of yester-year who were so concerned about hurt feelings. Grow up.
3.29.2006 10:30pm
DRJ (mail):
I think the public universities in Texas are safe for liberal, conservative, and libertarian students.
3.29.2006 10:31pm
Greedy Clerk (mail):
Y'all can dismiss his concerns out of hand if you like, like Republicans dismiss the expressed concerns of African-Americans over residual racism

Because David Bernstein has it a lot harder than your average black guy. Give me a break. Somebody call the whaaambulance.
3.29.2006 10:31pm
Quarterican (mail):
Well, let's take our Dixie Feminist. What's the level of respect she wants? Never to have her views questioned? No respect. Not to have people disagree with her in derisive, idiotic fashion? The real world is chock full of fools; get used to it. Not to be the minority viewpoint? Wimp. Not to have everyone act all righteously surprised when she expresses her opinion, and then say she's an idiot, or morally depraved? Upsetting, of course, but depending on how often it happens we're talking a spectrum from "builds character/hones arguments" to "embittering" to, maybe, "psychologically harmful." Not to have protestors show up when she tries to organize a NOW rally? Annoying, possibly even to the extent that she can't for practical reasons continue to organize rallies, but nothing I'm going to weep over. Consistent obscene or offensive or hateful verbal abuse? Hateful speech written on her door? Now we're talking. Not to be in physical danger? Well, of course I wouldn't tell her to suck it up. So where on this spectrum do conservative complaints about hostile student atmosphere fall? Do the spectrum again for Muslims or gay people and, depending on geographic location, the odds of physical danger probably go up. I wonder if we can get statistics on college students beaten up because they were gay (I have no idea how common this is) vs. college students beaten up because they were libertarians. If our Dixie Feminist doesn't want to be in the minority of student opinion, then she may have to compromise another preference. Tough. If you want to go to a school in the USNews top 10 (why? it's a ridiculous list) and receive an education that follows the tenets of the Bible, you've got a choice to make. If you want to go to school in your native Alabama and study in a top-flight women's studies program, you might not be able to make that work (although you never know). Few people get to have everything they want, in college just as in anything else.
3.29.2006 10:38pm
Walk It:
I didn't think so.

Leave off that last word, and you may be on to something.
3.29.2006 11:54pm
Patrick McKenzie (mail):
Washington University in St. Louis has a student body which is, well, rather typical of student bodies at elite campuses, but a faculty which is for the most part a) moderate Democrats, as opposed to loony left and b) very disinterested in your politics, outside of the obvious exceptions (heck, I even found a pretty open minded Women's Studies prof there). The campus atmosphere is pretty apathetic when it comes to politics, and the conservative groups have pretty healthy memberships and equal access to university facilities, etc. I'm aware of exactly incident of a student being threatened with disciplinary action for being un-PC (by another student, under guise of a sexual harassment complaint) and, without going into specifics, the appropriate authority dealt with that discretely and appropriately (i.e. "The behavior in your complaint does not meet any reasonable definition of sexual harassment, and we will not waste any more time investigating this issue. Good day.")

Every once in a while, the conservative newspaper or a conservative columnist in the student newspaper generates a bit of campus drama. It generally passes pretty quickly (says a former token conservative columnist). Death threats per articles written are rather low compared to peer institutions (how's that for a USNews metric).
3.29.2006 11:59pm
Walk It:
I'm quite happy, thank you.

Another "fact" in doubt. How well do you think you really know yourself? I see bumps on the horizon...
Growing up, did you take time out from "achieving" to really do this? Figure out yourself, and your place in the world, that is? Something in reading you these past months tells me there's something more there...
3.30.2006 12:03am
Wow, I thought being a liberal meant supporting equal standards for everyone. Goober, Greedy Clerk, and others give me some serious doubts.

Just to narrow the debate -- would you find the following an acceptable college environment? A gay person called "faggot" within earshot at least once per day. Likewise a black person called "ni**er" daily, or a feminist called "bitch".

I watched a ROTC student at Harvard face constant harrassment for several days when newly placed with three roommates. He was repeatedly called "fascist" within earshot, from guys that had not talked to him long enough to determine anything about his personal philosophy. On the third day they went through his Army surplus duffel bag and left his personal belongings scattered around the room. They told me they were justified because they needed to check if he had a gun.

That was enough for the ROTC student, who then requested a room transfer. I was fairly close to the roommates in question and never heard that they received even a reprimand, much less any kind of punishment.

I personally can think of no higher calling than someone willing to sacrifice their own life for someone else's freedom. Yet when I attended Harvard in the 80's, the university atmosphere was so intolerant that the ROTC students had to perform their service at MIT.

As an average white guy, I can never fully understand what it is like to be a black man in America. However, I am pretty sure I would find a daily dose of "ni**er" pretty chilling, especially if it came from my professor or teaching assistant.

If Justin wants to test how tolerant the "liberal" waters are at Columbia, then I suggest he cut his hair short and spend a day on campus in uniform. From my experience, he will be insulted by people based solely on his appearance.

IANAL, but would a university take any action against white students that insisted on calling the black students in their dorm "ni**ers"? I personally would not want to attend a university that gave tacit approval to such intolerance. As a classical liberal, I certainly would not defend such a university and call the black students whiny.

In my limited experience, I believe Professor Bernstein is asking a legitimate question. It worries me that some of our elite universities are "unbothered" by intolerance for conservative students.
3.30.2006 12:39am
Walk It:

You do know that those stories being circulated in some conservative quarters, about liberals being unpatriotic and hating on the troops, are a myth, right? Just a cheap political tactic.

Many Democrats, independents and generic liberals have family and friends serving -- perhaps numberswise more than political "conservatives".

Maybe we need to start qualifying "the liberal elites" if indeed such stories are true? I don't know much about them, but I do know your average bread-and-butter liberal has been painted as "unpatriotic" by more than one conservative mouthpiece. Remember the quick backtracking on the Murtha comments?

Be careful which anecdotes you choose; here I'd say the shame game falls more as a tactic on the conservative side.
3.30.2006 12:50am
Gene Vilensky (mail) (www):
I am of the opinion that students should get a pretty vigorous intellectual slapping around when in college from all sides. I actually think that Yale is a pretty good place for a conservative student. There are some conservative professors, many professors are quite tolerant, and it's usually rather easy to avoid the psychopathic leftists who are shocked how any reasonable person could think that I, Rigoberta Menchu speaks truth to power. So, just don't take anything in Sociology, Anthropology, or Women's and Gender Studies. It's all good.

Yale also has maintained a great focus on liberal arts and so students really will get to read Chaucer, Milton, Shakespeare, etc. if that's what they're looking for.

There is also a very vibrant conservative community which engages in a lot of heavy duty philosophical debate.

Sometimes you will get an evil TA who will screw you because you oppose graduate student unionization. Sure, that happened to a whole group of friends who were in the same section (thankgod I had dropped the course), but that's quite rare.

While certainly not perfect, it was also not like we (conservative/libertarian) students were harassed on a consistent basis. Besides, it was great getting to have fun and pull crazy stunts that made some of the unthinking lefties' heads explode (wait what, feminism and multiculturalism really do conflict?!).

But yeah, most lefty students I found were usually pretty respectful and it was easy to avoid those who weren't.
3.30.2006 4:24am
Gene Vilensky (mail) (www):
"speaks truth to power" should be "does not speak truth to power"
3.30.2006 4:25am
Cousin Dave (mail):
Well, this has certainly been a fun read. Maybe the original question should have been stated not as what is "safe" for a conservative, but what is useful. Let's take the comments to this very thread as a bad example: the liberal critique has consisted entirely of name-calling, repitition of already-disproven points, and the old "who are you going to believe, me or your own lying eyes?" argument. I posit that a university where such is the political discourse may be "safe" for a conservative, but it's also a complete waste of time. It is not possible to sharpen your arguments when your opponent refuses to argue from a basis of reason.
3.30.2006 11:24am
Brian W. (www):
I haven't read every comment thoroughly, but I didn't see any of the following really obvious, second-to-no-one-in-the-Ivy-League schools mentioned:

USMA, West Point, NY
USAFA, Colorado Springs, CO
USMMA, King's Point, NY
USCGA, New London, CT

I went to Army briefly, but left for medical reasons before graduation. (This is of course the reason you don't see Navy, which is not safe for anyone, on my list.) If you're not that interested in an extended military career, Coast Guard would be a great choice. You don't even need a Congressional nomination, as you do at the other academies.

Of course, if you're not so worried about "elite" status (if you, for instance, realize that a motivated student can get a top-notch education anywhere) and you'd like an environment that's safe for alcoholics as well as conservatives, Ole Miss and Auburn are fine choices, too.
3.30.2006 11:27am
anony (mail):
Some have argued that lawyers not engineers run the country. I don't think that's right, but EVEN if I grant that for the sake of argument, majoring in a technical subject as an undergrad is the thing to do. I wager that someone with a degree in engineering, physics, math or economics with a mathematical emphasis is perhaps MORE likely to get into many top law schools than your run of the mill liberal arts grad. Because of the grade inflation and low minimum course standards of many programs in the liberal arts, grad schools often see graduating in a technical field as a better signal of ability. As a distinguished (and very left/liberal) sociologist once told me "I don't think much of the typical undergrad in sociology. They're too politicized and tend to run away from quantitative work. I prefer econ majors in our PhD program."
3.30.2006 11:54am
I went to Princeton undergrad, and both Princeton and NYU Law have been quite good for conservatives.

Princeton has its fair share of notable conservative faculty (Robert George most well known, but there are others.) The conservative groups on campus aren't mocked for being conservative, but rather for being stupid (the Tory, Princeton's conservative magazine, in particular has been declining in recent years.) I've never felt intimidated from bringing up conservative ideas in class, though I've mostly kept to the "hard humanities"--economics, law-focused politics, hard philosophy.

I'm honestly surprised by how relatively moderate NYU Law has been. The lawyering program could be better, but that's largely a function of where you get lawyering professors from (successful firm lawyers don't go back to take non-tenure track legal writing professor jobs.) All of my first semester profs were respectful if not supportive of conservative ideas, and my admin prof at least claims that she no longer believes all Republicans to be evil. NYU's Federalist Society is active and noticeable, and among the students, crim law class's discussions are often won by the right-wingers. When a petition to support the grad student strike got passed around my 110 person Torts class first semester, I think they got about 10 signatures. There's a conservative/libertarian journal which has been mentioned repeatedly on this blog.

So, I'd recommend both places, though I can't speak to NYU undergrad, which seems much less open.
3.30.2006 1:51pm
For undergrad, I'd recommend a school situated in a relatively conservative state, such as Vanderbilt or Emory. The faculty is much less likely to live in an academic bubble where they only hear views like their own, and thus they will probably be more accepting of conservative views (if presented intelligently, of course). I interpret your concern as "the hazy threat of academic penalties or even disciplinary action merely as a result of voicing conservative speech." In that light, I never had any problem from any profs at Emory in the 90s, even the most radically left wing ones.

Plus, any school that still has a viable greek system is probably not too far down the pc path.

I would stay away from traditionally "conservative" schools simply because a quality education requires serious exposure to opposing views.
3.30.2006 3:11pm
Supermike (mail) (www):
I went to UCSB, it was about a decade ago, but it was pretty safe. (as safe as anywhere in Urban California) There were plenty of radicals running around, so I doubt you wouldn't have attracted some negative attention for having one of those infamous bake sales. But on the whole it's a pretty tolerant place. I didn't get in trouble for arguing with my Black Studies professor about affirmative action.
3.30.2006 5:02pm
ChrisPer (mail):
I suggest that this world needs conservatives with enough spine to deal with criticism.

I went to a very right-wing residential college at an Australian university loaded with leftists. The worst conflicts were generally deliberately provoked by my fellow collegians.

If you look at how few serious incidents are logged at FIRE, you have to conclude that this is a struggling meme.

So amny centrist or leftish academics are brilliant, fair-minded and ready to let any ideas be tested. Fine, provoke the counter-examples all you like but then its a fight you asked for.
3.30.2006 8:12pm
Your follow up (which has no comment link) cites an example of disrespect as "(2) having someone come up to your girlfriend, while your standing right next to her, and asking, 'are you his girlfriend?' and when she says, 'yes,' responding, 'do you realize he's a Republican?'"

This is hardly what I'd call an outrage, and the implication is that the lady in question didn't know she was dating a Republican. One would hope any adherant to conservative social values would be forthcoming to women he was courting about his political leanings, which would render this act of "disrespect" trivial.
3.31.2006 9:28am
I'm surprised that no one's mentioned George Mason, which is basically Libertarian U (and home of the famed Tyler Cowen and Alex Tabarrok, who write Marginal Revolution, as well as 2 Nobel Prize winners in Econ.) I expect that liberals would be welcome there as well -- but severely challenged to maintain their stance in the face of overwhelming arguments against it.

I understand they may have a basketball team as well.
4.1.2006 2:57am