A Crisis of Competence: The Corrupting Effect of Political Activism in the University of California

Mar 30, 2012 |  John M. Ellis

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A Crisis of Competence: The Corrupting Effect of Political Activism in the University of California

Mar 30, 2012 | 

John M. Ellis

Former UCI Student

| April 02, 2012 - 11:39 AM

I find this report to be wholly contradictory to my experience as a former student at UC Irvine. At no time during my course of undergraduate study in Information and Computer Science did I ever feel that a professor was rigidly expressing a personal or otherwise political opinion during any of my courses. The report identified this chasm between the real sciences versus other majors like social and political science. I lean center-right, at no time did I feel ostracized or a minority because quite simply this never came up (even in the odd social science class I had to take for general credit).

Peter Wood

| April 02, 2012 - 3:06 PM

The report rests on its own documentation, which is extensive.  The politicization it describes is supported by testimony from many students and by analysis of the curricula of the UC institutions.  This is not to say that every individual student (or alumnus) of the UC system encountered the politicization first hand or necessarily recognized it if he did encounter it. In that “odd social science class” that you took for general credit, did you find yourself reading works by Edmund Burke, Adam Smith, Friedrich von Hayek, Alexis de Tocqueville, James Q. Wilson, Robert Nisbet, Thomas Sowell, Claude Levi-Strauss, Daniel P. Moynihan, or Harvey Mansfield, to name a few? I suspect not. The finding in the report of widespread politicization deals as much with the invisible form of bias in the form of omission as it does with overt indoctrination that you apparently were spared.

Linda Gee

| April 03, 2012 - 10:19 AM

Thank you for the excellent report, “A Crisis of Competence”.  I learned about it from the Wall Street Journal.  As the mother of two UC system graduates, I can attest that the report is completely accurate.  My kids endeavored to beat the system by taking required courses in “Oppression Studies” during the summer at the local community college, where the drivel only lasted 6 weeks instead of 10, cost less, and was so easy that it wasn’t even necessary to read the assignments. Among the public, a cynical attitude is spreading where a so-called “good university” is just a place to buy a credential.  This cynicism on the part of parents and students is probably the worst outcome of all—a decline in respect for learning and growth in an attitude of indifference toward truth.

FOrmer UCI tutor

| April 03, 2012 - 1:14 PM

I tutored a Korean international student during his final two years at UCI, where he majored in International Studies. Based on his class notes and assigned textbooks and other reading assignments, I found that some of his classes were not overtly biased, but that a few of them were openly Marxist. I explained to him that if he wanted a good grade, then he will want to write what the teacher wants to hear, even if it makes no sense. He got an A in almost all of his classes. He let the teachers think that they had made another convert to their Marxist belief system. I also taught him an alternative conservative viewpoint which he found to make much more sense,

Mark Hanna

| April 03, 2012 - 7:23 PM

I am the early America historian at UC San Diego.  Here is my course description for the Fall of 2010 that was omitted from this report:

“This course will survey colonial American history beginning in pre-Columbian America and ending around 1800.  We will focus primarily on the major conflicts of this period: contact and conquest, colonialism, slavery and race, the meaning of the American Revolution and its immediate aftermath in both the newly established United States and the rest of the world.  The course centers on the North American colonies but it takes a decidedly “Atlantic” approach.  As an introductory-level survey, this course assumes students have had no prior experience with college-level historical study.  The intention is for students to establish a general narrative of American history to 1800, to learn how historians have constructed this narrative, and what challenges there are to doing so.”

I suppose writing about slavery seems liberal but South Carolina’s slave population after 1700 was a majority.  During the entire period up to 1800 the population in the space that now comprises the United States was a Native American majority.  Ignoring massive populations is a serious intellectual problem no matter what your politics.

Mark Hanna

| April 03, 2012 - 7:47 PM

P.S. I also teach Shakespeare.

Dave Thomas

| April 04, 2012 - 3:50 PM

I cannot begin to tell you how accurate this report is based on my decade as an undergraduate and graduate student in a UC history department. As a student you learned quickly how to spot the professors who wanted a regurgitation of their ideological viewpoint, and those professors who wanted you to present an argument based on an interpretation of evidence.

Justin McCarthy

| April 04, 2012 - 7:24 PM

My education occured in the California State University system in the 70’s and I have a bachelors in political science and a masters in Public Policy/Administration. In general, my political science teachers and many of my graduate professors were progressive. However, they graded me fairly, even when I disagreed with them, challenged my thinking and did not attempt to indoctrinate.

I have a relative who graduated from UCLA who vigorously pontificated on the 60’s “Watt’s Rebellion” as represented by a UCLA professor.  Serendipitously, the Rodney King civil unrest occured shortly thereafter. I queried my relative who was living in the area of unrest at the time whether this was a “riot” or a “rebellion”. I was assured that it was indeed a riot. Maybe it is just a debate over semantics, but as we have been assured by our President, “Words do have meaning.”

Where I have also seen a problem is in “social promotion”. Unfortunately, I have hired at least two masters degreed individuals from different state systems who could not write coherent paragraphs.  Frankly, these individuals were cheated by “social justice”, and their time and money were stolen by the system.

Part of the problem starts in the K-12 public schools where political correctness seems to have watered down any real education in the social sciences and history. My daughter spent her first two years at a Catholic high school and finished at a local public high school. She expressed amazement at how the teachers seemed risk averse on controversial subjects and how watered down the discussions were in her junior and senior classes. While more free wheeling debates occured in her Catholic high school experience. Just an observation.

Barkley Lee

| April 05, 2012 - 6:04 AM

After skimming through your lengthy report on the Crisis of Competance, here are my thouhts on it.  I am a Asian American graduate of the University of California , Berkeley in the 1970’s. At that time, the curriculum in my perspective was totally Euro-centric and almost all the classes which I enrolled in talked about European or American perspectives and theories. There were no or very little input of acknowledgement of contributions of literature,art, history, science, mathematics from other cultures other than European and American.  At that time, I realized that other cultures (i.e Chinese, Indian, Middle Eastern, African) were neglected but accepted it because all or most of our (American) knowledge had come from the Western world.  However, later on my own I became enlightened about art, science and literary works from non Western cultures (through works written by Westerners).  As I got older, I thought that it would be enlightening if our Western University expanded their studies and include acknowledgement of world cultures outside of the Western world.
  Now from your report, it seems like you are saying that the extreme opposite have taken place in the academic world , especially at the University of California. You seem to state that the radical elements of the Unversity is neglecting the teaching of Western ideas and in fact espousing rebellious and/or acitvism to counter Western thinking including Marxism!! If what you report is true,then we are doing a disservice to this generation of students, whether they are white European or non White European!  In my opinion, all the students SHOULD learn Western ideas , culture, and knowledge. Marxism and capitalism should both be taught!! Conservative and opposing views should both be availiable!! European/Western classes should be emphasized since we live in a Western country.But non European contributions should be taught also so all students have a more worldly historical perspective and knowledge of the future global economy and society. Most non Western countries require their students to learn about Western culture and their own culture simutaneously. This should also be happening here in our Universities in America. The West have made hugh contributions to mankind and MUST be studied.  But looking towards the future, it would behoove us to expand our studies because the West may not be the dominant culture in the future because of the changing world. So it would benefit all our students to be more sophisticaled and knowledgeable about non Western culture as well as our own culture and be able to compare and contrast all of them. Radical/activism can have a place in the University but should not be at the exclusion of more conservation/traditional classes.  Another words, education in 2012 should be expanding and classes should not be to the right nor to the left but includesive of all political persuasions.  This may be very time consuming and unattainable for undergraduate education so only a rudimentary non polical biased survey class can be taught to the undergraduate.  Then the more plethoric choices of political classes can be offered at the graduate level depending on the political thinking of each individual.  For a better society, we should not be wasting time playing “tit for tat” academic power playing but instead expanding knowledge as a true University and try to imcompass all pathways of thought.


| April 05, 2012 - 10:59 AM

The report stands not only on the statistical evaluation of said professor’s OWN political affiliation but on class content and required reading. Graduating in the ‘70s doesn’t give anyone a full picture of what occurs today. Many ‘young’ friends are enrolled in the U C system and ALL note this disparity and ‘all’ are, by choice, conservative and pretty much have been told that to ‘pass’ you need to alter your position. So statistical evaluation, content evaluation and many such reports support this release as valid. However given the fact that “historical” facts about America are NOT being taught in these schools and were greatly significant in our Founding, I doubt such a modern era “fact” will have any effect on the school’s direction. Very tough and rough times are coming to America.

Mark Sabatino

| April 06, 2012 - 10:32 AM

The fact that this discussion is even happening after Billions of tax dollars are spent on so called higher public education should disturb every American. The Liberal Left figured out a long time ago that they can take over Public education and the curriculum by backing public sector unions who will force members to pay dues used to recruit and support professors that promote thier views and indoctrinate generations of American’s into thinking Socialism and Marxism are the model for a utopian world. Ask yourself how long the LEFTIST leaders in America would put up with any organization let alone Public Universities that would hire and give tenure to 90%+ conservative professors and administrators? Between the left wing media and liberal politicians and leaders that would last all but for a minute! Thier would be cries of discrimination, racism, sexism, and every other ism in order to tip the scales in thier favor. However, when a noted scholar like Peter Berkowitz writes a book detailing the facts which can be cooberated independently the leftist who run public education and thier surrogates quickly run out without conscience and try and distract, deflect and disparage the book. The problem is that smart people only need look at the pitiful results these universities are producing to see that have FAILED miserably. Its time we give these universities a good old enema and purge all professors and administrators who support these failed policies.

UCI Alum '91

| April 07, 2012 - 12:08 PM

Each school has their own level, so to speak, of Liberal bias.  But it definitely exists, because activism is part of the makup of the academic psyche, especially in California.  It is expected.  I graduated Poli Sci, and took classes in Humanities, Social Science, and Information and Computer Sciences.  I agree that UC is jeapordizing the value of the degree by allowing activism and Liberal agenda to determine academic merit.  What the Regents may not yet come to grips with is that it may affect grants and public funding as well.


| April 09, 2012 - 10:26 PM

Ah right-wing propaganda in the guise of academic research.  The key to this study is its occlusion of historical context especially the rise of the right-wing knowledge and policy establishment since the 1970s, which this organization is clearly carrying the torch for.  This study offers no sense of how far the ideological goal posts have been moved to the right in our national political culture.  For example, Richard Nixon, policy wise, is more liberal by modern standards than Obama but yet the modern political content and platform of the terms liberal/conservative, democratic/republican are not conveniently unpacked.  This is the same argument we hear about the journalism community, who are in actuality a bunch of moderates that, in compared to the extreme right, which is now the center of the Republican party, stand in as the “liberal” or “left” point of view.  Like most professors, they are not leftist by any stretch of the imagination. They are called liberals mainly because of their secularism or social liberalism not because of their political economic views, the traditional measurement of leftism (i.e. the politics of labor and class).  I can guarantee that if the people who did this study did one on PBS or NPR, they would deem these organizations “leftist”  even while they are clearly moderate.  Here’s an idea, read some history on 20th century politics before you come up with your terms so your study doesn’t suffer from severe myopia.


| April 09, 2012 - 11:52 PM

MISANDRY - Hatred of Men, Masculinity and Normal Heterosexuality, pervades the hollow halls of Academentia like hot air in August.

The University of CA Teaches that: ” Gang Rape Represents Normal Male Sexuality, the Abuse of Women for Fun.” - and Anyone who objects gets a visit to their Employer by the Campus Thought Police (real ones with badges and guns) demanding punishment as an example to silence others.

Perhaps my favorite example of ‘tolerance’ is the copy of the ‘Daily Nexus’ from UC-BS in Goleta, showing a cartoon male with a pig growing out of his head and the accompanying story with the caption: ” I am a Lying Sexist, Cut Open My Head, Drag Out the Pig, and Butcher It.” Once again - Objection is Not Permitted and Triggers Retaliation by the Womyn’s Twysted Systerhood Center.

Here is an article about UC Davis - Censored from the Lamesteam Media (like the annual Tax Subsidized Anti Male Hate Riot known as the S.F. Dyke March) because it interferes with the message - of Separatist Exterminationist MISANDRY.

<<  Jail For UC Davis Embezzler
6/6/11 http://davisvanguard.org

Former UC Davis official Jennifer Beeman was sentenced on Thursday to 180 days in jail and five years probation

no contest to two felony counts of embezzlement and falsifying accounts.
Neither charge involved her falsification of campus sexual assault statistics

Beeman “significantly over-reported the number of forcible sex offenses”
For 16 years Beeman headed the UC Davis Campus Violence Prevention Program (CVPP)

UC Davis officials said Beeman Remained in Her Job after they knew about the falsification

Another UCI student

| April 09, 2012 - 11:57 PM

I had the opposite experience at UC irvine 17 years ago when I got my degree in English Literature.  I took several linguistics classes and had Noam Chomsky stuffed down my throat as if he was the only expert in the field.  My freshman year, a lesbian teacher decided to combine our class with another lesbian teacher’s class and they “taught” us that the physical differences between men and women are only meaningless stereotypes- that if you took all the physical statistics (height, weight, muscle mass, strength) of all the men in the world and all the women, you would see that they are exactly the same.  Men are in no way “stronger” or “bigger” than women.  We were supposed to be studying the holocaust and they thought this “gender studies issue” was more important.  If you didn’t parrot what they taught you, you received bad grades.  The reason the other UCI student who studied computer science didn’t have this experience is because (a) he was more insulated in his computer science buildings from the rest of the campus and (b) learning programming, etc is pure fact - there is no room for politics and conjecture- it is devoid of the emotions that go hand in hand with the humanities department.  I was taught that we are definitely moving to a one world order that will be controlled by corporations and that we would become one with Canada and Mexico.  I was taught over and over about America’s evil history of colonialism and how we need to sympathize with the illegal aliens who are just trying to reclaim their machismo after being immasculated by the conquering spaniards. We need to understand and embrace their culture and understand why they dont want to integrate with the rest of american society.  I will say that not all my classes were completely leftist.  During my freshman year as part of my general ed, I was assigned two of the most amazing books ever:  “The Structure of Scientific Revolution” by Thomas Kuhn and Theodore Abel’s “Why Hitler Came To Power”.  Those books changed the way I think about everything and I appreciate that they were part of my curriculum.  All in all, the degree I received in 3 years with no summer school, turned out to pretty much be a waste of my parents money.  I should have taken computer science!

Ron Smorynski

| April 17, 2012 - 12:59 PM

As a UCLA alumni 20 years ago, I never learned our understood the main arguments or issues for these areas: pro-life, marriage, free markets, a republic, Republicans, conservatism, creation. I voted ‘Democrat’ for every politician whomever. I hated Christians, crusaders, American slavery, churches, Jews, Republicans, white businessmen. I believed condoms would stop all STDs and pregnancies. I believed drugs and sex and abortions were good things. I insulted family members, especially children, and their beliefs in fun family shows and good things. Thanks Liberals!