Graduation speakers tend to lean to Left
Liberals outnumber conservatives four to one at commencements
CampusReform.org released a list this month revealing a strong liberal bias among undergraduate universities’ commencement speakers.
The data shows that for every four liberal commencement speakers this spring, there is one conservative speaker. The study looked at 160 universities. Liberal names on the speaking list include Vice President Al Gore, President Bill Clinton, President Barack Obama, Alec Baldwin, Nancy Pelosi, Sonia Sotomayor, Rachel Maddow, David Brooks and First Lady Michelle Obama.
“With the Obama administration being in power, obviously more high government officials are liberal,” CampusReform.org Communications Director Bonnie Kristian said. “Yet there are an abundance of conservative and libertarian members of government who could be speaking at the ceremonies who aren’t being asked by universities. Universities are simply not picking conservative or libertarian commencement speakers.”
Kristian said that her organization hopes to inform students and universities of this political imbalance.
“We hope these figures will bring attention and make students aware of this left-wing bias, and to encourage universities to represent both sides of the aisle and present a broader perspective,” she said.
Tulane College Democrats President Sam Richard said he was not surprised by the increase in liberal commencement speakers.
“College students are more liberal than many other demographics — 5 percent of Obama voters in 2008 were between the ages of 18 and 24” Richard said. “I think the universities are just trying to give students someone they want to hear from, someone they are excited about.”
Debbie Grant, vice president for university communications and marketing said that party affiliation plays no role in the commencement speaker selection process at Tulane.
“An individual’s political philosophy does not influence our invitation to be the keynote speaker at graduation,” she said. “The committee that plans commencement each year is drawn from the registrar’s office, admission office, the president’s office and the communications office. There is a working list of potential commencement speakers that has been compiled from suggestions to the committee from students, faculty, staff and alumni. When we review the list, we look to see if there is a connection to Tulane and/or New Orleans. Also, it helps if a member of the university community has a personal connection and can help us reach out to a potential speaker.”
Past Tulane commencement speakers include President George H.W. Bush, President Bill Clinton, Brian Williams, James Carville and Mary Matalin, and, most recently, Ellen DeGeneres. Anderson Cooper will speak at the 2010 commencement this May.