Federal Election Commission findings have shown that, by and large, state university professors donate an average of at least $30,000 per university to political campaigns.
“The findings put to question the objectivity of school teachers,” said 43-year-old mother of two Christine Chale of Hauppauge, NY, who said that her children have changed their approach to classes based on the political bias of a teacher.
“My son and daughter have told me that in certain instances they write their papers or homework from a different point of view in order to stay on the professor’s good side.”
Chale’s son is a student at Stony Brook University where professors donated $33,796 to political campaigns in 2008 and $27,873 of that went to Barack Obama. This year, almost $5,000 was donated to political campaigns and $4,320 of that went to Barack Obama.
Health science major at Stony Brook University Navin Persaud said, “Professors should be allowed to donate to political campaigns. Professors are well-educated and if they donate money to political campaigns, they should do so without worrying about anything.”
Political Science Major at Hofstra University Davetta Belton said, “Professors shouldn’t be able to donate to campaigns because most journalists can’t. Both professors and journalists do the same thing; they gather information to put on display to inform people about it, so it wouldn’t be fair to allow professors to donate and not journalists.”
Belton highlights the firing MSNBC anchor, Keith Olbermann, as an example of her argument. Olbermann was released from MSNBC after records showed that he donated several thousands of dollars to prominent Democrats.
Former CBS Evening News anchor, Connie Chung said, “The media have changed. I was scared to give my opinions on topics, [or to side] with a particular part of the news. Journalists used to be objective, now it seems like people can make a career off of saying what’s on their mind.”
Currently, there are no restrictions on teachers who donate to political campaigns other than basic campaign finance laws, despite the salaries of professors coming largely from taxpayer money.
According to student’s observations during class lectures, some students feel that teachers do not teach objectively. Belton said, “Even though teachers are known to teach objectively, they still say what their opinions are during class lectures. So no matter what, you always know what their views are.”
She added, “[Teaching non-objectively] affects student’s learning process because they see an issue through the professor’s eyes instead of their own.”
, Arielle Burton would like those who donate to political campaigns to be held responsible for their convictions. She said she would “question the motives of a person who donates to a political campaign. I would wonder what their stake in a particular cause was, and I would want to know why.”
Burton said she would also question one of America’s favorite talk show hosts, Oprah Winfrey, if she were to find out that she had given significant funds to an interest group or political campaign.
“I would be devastated to find out that the people who are guiding us are also doing it with their own personal interest at heart.”
University of California at Los Angeles professors also contributed both to the 2008 and 2012 Presidential campaigns.
In the 2008 race, UCLA professors donated a total of $13, 563 to the Obama campaign and donated $1,250 to Hillary Clinton.
The Long Island Progressive Coalition for Teachers declined to comment on the story stating it was “too sticky” to get involved.
-Claudia Balthazar, Gary Duff, Jason Segall and Matt Marklwitz