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  • Writer's pictureSam Wilks

Navigating Hostility: Conservative Professors in Liberal Institutions

The academic landscape was once perceived as a bastion of liberal thought, where progressive ideas dominated the discourse. Within this environment, conservative professors frequently find themselves navigating a terrain that is not only ideologically opposed to their viewpoints but can also be outright hostile. This article examines the challenges faced by conservative professors in liberal institutions.

The ideological divide in academia is not a new phenomenon. Universities have long been arenas for intellectual debate and the exchange of diverse ideas. However, in recent years, the ideological homogeneity of academic institutions has become more pronounced. This homogeneity often marginalises conservative voices, creating an environment where dissenting opinions are not only discouraged but actively suppressed.

In Australia, the academic landscape reflects similar trends observed in other Western countries. Institutions known for their progressive leanings foster environments where conservative faculty members must tread carefully. The consequences of expressing conservative views ranges from social ostracism to professional repercussions, impacting both personal well-being, economic security, and academic freedom.

Judicial philosophy emphasises the principles of justice and fairness, which are foundational to any functioning society. These principles are equally critical in academic institutions, where the pursuit of knowledge should be free from ideological constraints. However, when conservative professors face bias and discrimination, the ideals of justice and fairness are obviously undermined.

Conservative professors in Australia have reported instances where their research proposals are dismissed and their opportunities for advancement hindered due to their political beliefs. This systemic bias not only violates the principles of justice but also impoverishes the academic environment by stifling diverse perspectives. Ultimately hindering the progress of knowledge and innovation.

The suppression of conservative viewpoints in academia has broader implications. Academic institutions play a crucial role in shaping the intellectual capital of a nation. When these institutions become ideologically monolithic, they produce graduates who are less capable of critical thinking and open debate. The students have little to no value in the public domain as they have been trained "what" to think, without the ability to know "how" to think.

The Northern Territory, with its unique cultural and economic challenges, exemplifies the need for diverse academic perspectives. Universities and higher education in this region must address a range of issues, from indigenous rights to economic development. By excluding conservative viewpoints, these institutions overlook innovative solutions that arise from balanced ideological discourse. It's like trying to have a conversation with someone who is deaf, blind, and mute - there is no opportunity for true understanding or progress.

The psychological impact on conservative professors navigating hostile academic environments is profound. The constant pressure to conform to prevailing ideological norms increases stress, anxiety, and a sense of isolation. The fear of professional repercussions, which prevents professors from openly expressing their views, only exacerbates the psychological toll.

In the Northern Territory, where the academic community is smaller and more insular, conservative professors face even greater psychological challenges. The close-knit nature of these communities means that ideological conflicts become highly personal, further exacerbating feelings of isolation and alienation. I know of one academic who left and now runs a successful hire car company, acknowledging that the lessons he was paid to deliver would have had a destructive influence on his business if he attempted to engage them in the same way.

Security professionals like myself highlight the importance of maintaining a safe and respectful environment, particularly in settings where ideological conflicts are likely. For conservative professors, the hostility they face often escalates to threats and harassment, posing serious security concerns. It is crucial for universities to take proactive measures to ensure the safety and well-being of all faculty members, or they risk losing conservative professionals.

In Australian universities, there have been several instances where conservative speakers and faculty members have faced protests, disruptions, and even threats of violence. Ensuring the safety of all faculty members, regardless of their political beliefs, is essential for upholding the integrity of academic institutions.

In 2019, a conservative professor at the University of Sydney faced significant backlash for expressing views that were deemed controversial by the student body. The situation escalated to the point where the professor required police protection during lectures. This incident underscores the hostility that conservative faculty members can encounter and the need for institutions to protect academic freedom.

Peter Ridd, a professor at James Cook University in Queensland, was dismissed after criticising the university's research on the Great Barrier Reef. Ridd argued that his dismissal was due to his conservative stance on environmental issues. His case garnered national attention and sparked a debate on academic freedom and ideological bias within Australian universities. Although eventually the evidently activist judiciary in Queensland backed the university, Peter's research and prediction models have been starkly accurate amongst the litany of failures from other progressive liberal professors.

Due to his political views, a conservative professor at Charles Sturt University claimed that his coworkers and students marginalised him. Despite his extensive research and contributions to his field, he found himself excluded from key academic discussions and opportunities.

Conservative professors working in obviously hostile institutions may employ several strategies to navigate and maintain their professional and personal well-being. They may form alliances with like-minded colleagues and provide a support network that offers both professional collaboration and personal encouragement. They may promote open and respectful dialogue with colleagues and students, which is essential for fostering a more inclusive academic environment. By engaging in constructive debates, conservative professors can challenge stereotypes and misconceptions about their viewpoints.

The case of Peter Ridd identified that conservative professors must keep detailed records of instances of bias and discrimination, which is crucial for addressing these issues through formal channels. Documentation provides evidence in cases where professional repercussions and harassment need to be addressed legally or administratively.

Conservative professors must seek support from external organisations that advocate for academic freedom and intellectual diversity. Often, as X has proven, these organisations can offer resources, legal assistance, and a platform for raising awareness about the challenges faced by conservative academics.

It remains a reality that conservative professors must work harder and smarter than their contemporary liberal colleagues, demonstrating excellence in research and teaching, to gain recognition and respect within their academic communities. By contributing valuable knowledge and insights, they can challenge the notion that ideological conformity is necessary for academic success.

Academic institutions themselves have a critical role to play in addressing ideological bias and promoting a more inclusive environment, however, they must be incentivised to do this. Economically, it has become obvious that left-wing and liberal think tanks have been very successful in garnering taxpayer funded grants and financial support for liberal leaning universities.

Taxpayer funded NGOs and associated bureaucratic agencies also provide employment for those who are considered valueless to the private sector. This redistribution of taxpayer resources to finance the intellectually retarded is far worse than welfare, it encourages dependency and discourages intellectual growth and self-sufficiency.

Institutions should develop and enforce policies that protect academic freedom and prevent discrimination based on political beliefs. These policies should be clearly communicated and consistently applied. Universities should actively encourage diverse viewpoints by creating spaces for open debate and discussion. Hosting events, panel discussions, and guest lectures that represent a range of political and ideological perspectives.

Institutions are legally required under the WHS (NUL) Act 2011 to offer support services for faculty members who experience discrimination or harassment. This can include counseling, mediation, and legal assistance. Universities should promote a culture of respect and tolerance for all viewpoints. This involves educating students and faculty about the importance of intellectual diversity and the principles of respectful discourse. However, while the reigns of taxpayer funds are unaccountably provided to NGOs, think tanks, and other biassed organisations, the balance of power is skewed.

The ideological divide in academia, economic implications, psychological impact, and security concerns all contribute to a hostile environment for those who hold dissenting views. Real-world illustrate the pervasive nature of this issue and the need for comprehensive strategies to address it. Academic institutions must take proactive steps to promote more inclusive and respectful environments that value intellectual diversity and academic freedom.

Ultimately, the pursuit of knowledge and the advancement of society depend on the free exchange of ideas and the inclusion of diverse perspectives. Ensuring that all voices, including conservative ones, are heard and respected within academic institutions is essential for fostering a vibrant and dynamic intellectual community. Many conservative academics are turning to online learning and online universities that do not require the same infrastructure that traditional universities do. It has become blatantly obvious to many students that online education provides the same level of academic rigour and quality as traditional universities. Foreign students are currently required to participate in on campus lectures to retain their immigration status, and it has become abundantly clear that without foreign students, most universities would fail to maintain financial stability or viability.

Moving forward, it currently requires the removal of protections and benefits for international students to prioritise the financial needs of universities. As a trainer and assessor for a RTO, I consistently hear the complaints about the political views shared with students from the university; these students, predominantly from conservative countries, consider it offensive and disrespectful to their beliefs. However, they continue to put up with it to gain access to a better life. These students believe that enduring the discomfort is a necessary sacrifice to achieve their goals, despite feeling marginalised and misunderstood.

From the author.

The opinions and statements are those of Sam Wilks and do not necessarily represent whom Sam Consults or contracts to. Sam Wilks is a skilled and experienced Security Consultant with almost 3 decades of expertise in the fields of Real estate, Security, and the hospitality/gaming industry. His knowledge and practical experience have made him a valuable asset to many organizations looking to enhance their security measures and provide a safe and secure environment for their clients and staff.

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