Professor Samuel Abrams is a conservative-leaning tenured professor of politics at Sarah Lawrence College. He is active in Heterodox Academy, a group of almost 2000 academics devoted to intellectual diversity on campus.

Prof. Abrams recently wrote an op-ed for the New York Times about the lack of ideological diversity among administrators at his school and elsewhere. The column, titled Think Professors Are Liberal? Try School Administrators, brought together research Prof. Abrams had done on left-leaning bias among college professors and administrators, and how it stifles open debate.

This warped ideological distribution among college administrators should give our students and their families pause. To students who are in their first semester at school, I urge you not to accept unthinkingly what your campus administrators are telling you. Their ideological imbalance, coupled with their agenda-setting power, threatens the free and open exchange of ideas, which is precisely what we need to protect in higher education in these politically polarized times.

Prof. Abram’s op-ed triggered social justice activists on campus and not in a good way because the example he used to start his column concerned campus identity politics:

As a conservative-leaning professor who has long promoted a diversity of viewpoints among my (very liberal) faculty colleagues and in my classes, I was taken aback by the college’s sponsorship of such a politically lopsided event. The email also piqued my interest in what sorts of other nonacademic events were being organized by the school’s administrative staff members.

I soon learned that the Office of Student Affairs, which oversees a wide array of issues including student diversity and residence life, was organizing many overtly progressive events — programs with names like “Stay Healthy, Stay Woke,” “Microaggressions” and “Understanding White Privilege” — without offering any programming that offered a meaningful ideological alternative.

Robby Soave writes at Reason about the campus reaction:

Sarah Lawrence Professor’s Office Door Vandalized After He Criticized Leftist Bias

After penning an op-ed for The New York Times decrying the ideological homogeneity of his campus administration, a conservative-leaning professor at Sarah Lawrence College discovered intimidating messages—including demands that he quit his job—on the door of his office. The perpetrators had torn down the door’s decorations, which had included pictures of the professor’s family.

In the two weeks since the incident, Samuel Abrams, a tenured professor of politics at Sarah Lawrence, has repeatedly asked the college’s president, Cristle Collins Judd, to condemn the perpetrators’ actions and reiterate her support for free speech. But after sending a tepid campus-wide email that mentioned the importance of free expression, but mostly stressed her “commitment to diversity and inclusive excellence,” Judd spoke with Abrams over the phone; according to him, she accused him of “attacking” members of the community.

“She said I had created a hostile work environment,” Abrams said in an interview with Reason. “If [the op-ed] constitutes hate speech, then this is not a world that I want to be a part of.”

What’s more, when the two met in person, Judd implied that Abrams was on the market for a new job, he said.

“I am not on the job market,” he said. “I am tenured, I live in New York. Why would I go on the job market?”

Abrams interpreted Judd’s remarks as a suggestion that he might be better off leaving the school. Judd did not respond to a request for comment.

Take a look at what was put on his door:

There also appears to be a campaign to spread falsehoods about him.

Prof. Jacobson is familiar with these smear tactics from social justice activists, as they were used against him when he gave a lecture on free speech at Vassar College a year ago.

The Sarah Lawrence Phoenix has more on the hostile campus reaction:

Abrams cites a study he conducted of 900 administrators “whose work concerns the quality and character of a student’s experience on campus.” According to his study, liberal administrators outnumber their conservative counterparts by 12-to-one. In New England, the ratio is as high as 25-to-one.

“It appears that a fairly liberal student body is being taught by a very liberal professoriate — and socialized by an incredibly liberal group of administrators,” Abrams writes.

He closes the piece by urging first-semester freshmen “not to accept unthinkingly what your campus administrators are telling you. Their ideological imbalance, coupled with their agenda-setting power, threatens the free and open exchange of ideas, which is precisely what we need to protect in higher education in these politically polarized times.”

One of the signs on Abrams’ door reads “OUR RIGHT TO EXIST IS NOT ‘IDEALOGICAL’ ASSHOLE” [sic] and was signed “A TRANSEXUAL FAG”. The one below it was a to-do list of apologies, which included the Directors of Diversity and Res life, respectively, several minority groups, and “campus (general).” Below the list of demanded apologies is a sign reading “QUIT,” and in smaller text, “go teach somewhere else, you racist asshat (maybe Charlottesville?).” Below that sign is one simply reading “QUIT,” and several pieces of paper urging Abrams to “QUIT” are spread out at the foot of the door.

Note the use of “they” and “their” for a single person in this line:

Bee Kinstle, ‘21, placed a letter of their own outside Abrams’ door. They wrote that, as a bisexual and non-binary student, the discussion of their identity that Abrams seems to call for would make them “feel unsafe on campus.”

Professor Abrams is not an extremist. He has merely pointed out, correctly, that the left dominates academia, despite higher education’s obsession with diversity, and that that damages intellectual diversity.

In 2017, he wrote at National Review:

New England’s Hallowed Halls, Crumbling

It is hard to think about New England without its colleges. Numerous schools in the region predate the founding of the United States, and many towns such as Middlebury are so intimately linked to their local school historically, culturally, and economically that it would be hard to think of New England without its politically progressive, prestigious institutions of higher education.

It is thus understandable that New Englanders may be upset over a new ranking series that places many New England schools at the bottom of a list.

The offending list is the Heterodox Academy’s new ranking of 200 schools created to measure how much viewpoint diversity one can expect to find on a particular campus. The assessment takes into account a number of factors pertaining to free speech and viewpoint diversity — including the Intercollegiate Studies Institute ratings of campus culture and whether or not the school has endorsed the Chicago Principles on free expression.

At a time when the diversity of ideas — and notably conservative thought — is diminishing on college campuses nationwide, this new classification of schools is important.

Abrams has also written in defense of free speech at The American Interest:

Professors Support Free Speech

Controversy about speech and speakers has become de rigueur on our nation’s college campuses. Students are front and center in these debates, and numerous reports and surveys paint an inconsistent picture of their views on free speech. While students claim to value the First Amendment and the inclusion of many conflicting ideas in debates, they also support limits on speech to promote greater diversity and inclusion, or to safeguard particular groups of people.

While student attitudes toward openness are of value, these undergraduates are still developing intellectually and politically. What is notably absent in the current research is an examination of the faculty tasked with teaching these students.

In this 2017 video, Abrams describes what it’s like to be a conservative on a leftist campus. It’s cued to start at the 28:17 mark, just press play:

Legal Insurrection reached out yesterday to the President of Sarah Lawrence, Cristle Collins Judd, for comment on the situation, referencing the Reason article. We also asked:

Finally, do you support Prof. Abram’s right to publish the op-ed in question, and does the college intend on fully protecting his tenured position and academic freedom?

As of this writing, we have received no response.


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