Election 2016

Two college professors train students to critique institutions in far more responsible ways than Trump does (essay)

Of all the outlandish and absurd claims Donald Trump has made in the months since he announced his candidacy for president, the most recent -- that the news media and global elite are conspiring to rig the election against him -- is one that we take most umbrage with. Who are we? Two English professors at a community college who have spent the last year studying and teaching the difference between conspiracy theories and institutional critique.

As avid readers of Thomas Pynchon and viewers of The Wire, we’ve developed a pedagogy that asks students to analyze how institutions might or might not be illegitimate or criminal. And to us, Donald Trump’s claim seems weak. Where’s his corkboard? Where are his out-of-focus black-and-white photos? Where is his string connecting the evidence?

Yet, he’s right to focus our gaze on institutions. There are legitimate critiques to be made about the many forces, institutional and otherwise, operating against all of us. Having institutional knowledge and the ability to understand what competitive forces exist is required of any educated person. Polls have shown that Donald Trump’s largest support block are those with just a high school education. Those are, in fact, our students who have just enrolled in our English 101 composition classes.

It is dangerous to confuse comparatively uneducated with not smart. One doesn’t need a college degree to suspect and know that often, as Hillary Clinton has said, “the deck is stacked.” And many educated as well as uneducated people are likely to propose sweeping generalizations like Donald Trump -- such as “it’s all rigged” -- as evidence for their opinions.

But when we teach the difference between conspiracy theory and institutional critique to our students -- when they practice institutional analysis with corkboard, photos and string, and when they write essays that must have credible sources -- they are more likely to understand that social justice and consequential critiques are possible only if we study the details.

In our classes, most students grasp how a former House majority leader is profiting by doing things like trying to help drug companies avoid paying federal taxes. They also get how he may only be a piece of a larger problem, both in the way tax avoidance is lobbied for in this country and how an entire industry of consultants’ sole purpose is to help companies become more efficient at avoiding paying taxes.

They grasp the injustice when they uncover that there have been little to no consequences for financial institutions after the 2008 economic meltdown. They understand how police departments often reveal information about wrongdoing only in the wake of protests or public outcry. They understand that the complexity is vast, but in order to be authors of consequence, they need to have coherent evidence of the contrary. Stating that the system is “rigged” is a lie that becomes the truth by the power of acquiescence.

In their own investigations, our students have outworked Trump in articulating and supporting claims of institutional criminality. They have identified and investigated organizations and conspiracies that range from the local, like a Queens, N.Y., Wing Stop or Popeyes franchise, to the global, like corrupt government contracting in India and Italy. It’s unpredictable which institutions students will choose to investigate: the New York Police Department, for-profit universities, the Iranian leadership. But, if there is some suspicion of injustice, our community college students are on the case.

They have, on their own initiative, cold-called whistle-blowers at animal rescue agencies, walked into police stations and asked for the names and ranks of the precinct’s officers, and interviewed anonymous informants. In short, they have done the work of heroic investigators, the kind you would hope an engaged citizen in a democracy would undertake.

With those projects, students are engaging in the kind of work we witness in binges of popular television crime shows like Breaking Bad or True Detective, where investigators tack photos, maps, names, evidence to corkboards, office walls -- whatever they can find -- to allow viewers to vicariously sense that, yes, the rapidly connecting world that feels beyond our comprehension is being pieced together one bit at a time.

We ask, why leave these problems to television fantasy? Why not ask students to make sense of senselessness as an exercise of critical citizenship? Why not expect the same of our public figures?

In other words, if Donald Trump were a first-year community college student, all signs indicate he’d be a lazy one. We’d send him back to do more research. He has made a claim, but his critique would be classified as an empty conspiracy. If he presented this claim that it’s all “rigged,” we’d say, Mr. Trump, show us your corkboard, your photos, your documents, your works-cited page. Show us some work. You will not pass unless you do.

Jed Shahar and Benjamin Lawrance Miller are assistant professors at Queensborough Community College of the City University of New York.

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2016 ballot measures that have an impact on higher education

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A list of the referendum votes that matter to colleges and universities: bonds, taxes, governance and more.

Essay on restoring promise of a free public higher education

Time for a reset in our thinking about higher education.

The Georgetown University Center for Education and the Workforce recently released a study that estimates the potential impact of Hillary Clinton’s proposal to eliminate public college tuition for all in-state students whose families make less than $125,000 per year. The center concluded that impact would be an increase in enrollment at public institutions of between 9 and 22 percent, with a “best guess” estimate of 16 percent. Three-quarters of the enrollment growth would come from attracting new students into higher education. And that’s the point of her proposal: to attract marginalized students into higher education.

Unfortunately, much of the commentary around the center’s estimates has focused on the potential impact on private colleges and universities. These institutions could face declines in enrollment that would account for the remaining quarter of the increase in public college enrollments. Such concerns would be fully warranted if all private colleges and universities had on-time graduation rates as high as the 91 percent at Davidson College or Georgetown University. But they don’t.

The on-time graduation rate for half the nation’s four-year private nonprofit colleges and universities is below 39 percent. For a quarter of all private nonprofit institutions, the on-time graduation is below 22 percent. At four-year for-profit colleges, the median on-time graduation rate is 14 percent. Even more alarming, nearly a third of four-year for-profits graduated no students on time.

But it isn’t just on-time graduation rates that need to be considered when judging the promise of a free public college option. It is our nation’s addiction to debt to finance higher education.

For the last seven years, President Obama, former U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and current U.S. Secretary of Education John King have worked to help students manage their college debt by providing opportunities to repay it by working in local, state or national nonprofit organizations. They also have introduced more generous income-based repayment plans. And these opportunities are paying off -- both for the students and for our economy. Recently, we learned that nearly 432,000 student loan borrowers registered their work with employers that qualify them for Public Service Loan Forgiveness and a quarter of borrowers were repaying their loans through the William D. Ford Direct Loan Program, using one of several income-based repayment plans.

While loan repayment programs, whether income-based or through public service, have relieved the strain and burden on thousands of individual borrowers, together they are not enough to reduce the impact of $1.26 trillion in outstanding federal student loans on the U.S. economy. The latest research studies confirm that student loans negatively impact home and auto purchases as well as small businesses and family formation.

In retrospect, we have all contributed to the growth in student loans. From the 1860s to the present day, if we look at the history of federal support to higher education, our nation’s leaders recognized that increasing the educational attainment of citizens was good and necessary for the country’s future. When direct federal support to students was introduced with the GI Bill in the 1940s, it fueled a sustained era of national prosperity that only a prolonged and unproductive war brought to an end.

Through the 1970s, students from a low- or moderate-income family could afford to go to a public college and take on no debt. These institutions were affordable because taxpayers supported low tuition -- including tuition-free community colleges in many states -- and need-based grants like Pell Grants and State Student Incentive Grants. The combination of an increasingly educated workforce, with little debt to hold us back, fueled economic prosperity.

An obscure law rooted in President Reagan’s government reform efforts -- the Federal Credit Reform Act of 1990 -- addicted us to paying for higher education primarily through debt. Students and families increasingly took out loans to pay for a college education. Under FCRA, the lifetime costs of federal loans -- not just student loans -- are recognized and paid for in the year in which the loan is made. The lifetime cost of federal student loans are measured by discounting the expected future cash flows associated with the loan to a present value at the date the loan is disbursed. From a federal budgeting perspective, the FCRA made it cheaper to make loans to students than give them grants.

Today, students who graduate without any college debt still reap great economic benefit from a higher education, but they are a shrinking share of graduates. Today, nearly three-quarters of students graduating from four-year private nonprofit colleges have borrowed for their undergraduate education. Nearly 90 percent at four-year private for-profit institutions have borrowed.

The students who graduate without debt get all the rewards of pursuing a higher education with none of the risks associated with the debt or making bad choices, like being lured into college by predatory for-profit providers or enrolling in academic fields that lack substantial economic returns.

For everyone else, it is an enormous gamble. For those with debt and no degree, the prospects are the worst. Those who drop out receive none of the rewards of pursuing a college education while they took on all of the risks from being out of the labor market and taking on student loans. For those with large amounts of debt who successfully completed a degree program, it largely is a question of the quality of the credential and the field of study. If they attended a first-rate institution and received a degree in a high-demand field, they’ll do well. For everyone else, it depends.

And that’s the problem. It depends on decisions about where to go to college and what to study that an 18-year-old -- or 32-year-old -- makes with no ability to predict the future and, despite the best efforts of the Obama administration to develop and publish data on labor market outcomes, less than perfect information.

But the nation and every state benefit from the cumulative impact of higher levels of educational attainment. Even those who don’t go on to higher education benefit from increases in productivity and gains in earnings because of those who do.

So, if we must talk about making America stronger together -- or greater again, depending on your political persuasion -- we must make higher education free again. When running for the Democratic nomination, Senator Bernie Sanders proposed “College for All” -- the name Carmel Martin and I used when we released our plan for debt-free higher education in February 2015. Senator Sanders’s bold proposal encouraged former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to propose eliminating tuition for students from working families who attend public colleges in their home state, assuring continued support to students from low- and moderate-income families through Pell Grants and other programs, and creating a much-needed new college compact -- something I and my colleagues at the Center for American Progress proposed -- to increase accountability and improve our nation’s return on investment resulting from higher education. Private colleges will need to make adjustments if they want to stay competitive, but that’s just the cost of making our higher education system work for everyone.

As a society, we pay for what we value. So, do we want to be known as a society that values war more than peace, prison more than education? It’s time to step up and restore America’s promise of a free public higher education opportunity for the current and future generations of the greatest country on earth.

David Bergeron is a senior fellow for postsecondary education at the Center for American Progress. He previously served as the acting assistant secretary for postsecondary education at the U.S. Department of Education.

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An analysis of how involved college students are in the upcoming election

Will college students turn out to vote on Nov. 8? That’s a question we hear often, as stewards of the largest study on college student voting in the United States. Today, 18 million students attend American colleges and universities, and while quite a bit can happen over the next week, here’s what we know so far, as well as some advice for what we think should be happening on campuses now and, as importantly, after Election Day.

If 2012 and 2014 offer foreshadowing, college students may not turn out to vote at the same rates as older voters. Of the 8.5 million college and university students in our National Study of Learning, Voting and Engagement, only 45 percent voted in 2012. Less so younger students: only 41 percent of 18- to 24-year-old students voted in 2012. In 2014, the proportion dropped by more than half -- to 13 percent. Our Tisch College of Civic Life colleagues, CIRCLE, reported that 2014 had the lowest turnout of both college and noncollege youth in 40 years. This dip may reflect a downward trend.

But this year could be different. In 2015, almost 60 percent of first-year students surveyed by the Higher Education Research Institute said there is a “very good chance” that they will vote while in college. This fall, the Harvard Institute of Politics released polling results indicating that 63 percent of young people polled would vote. Last week, CIRCLE released data from its pre-election poll of millennials. Of the 288 college students (ages 18 to 34) surveyed, 76 percent identified themselves as “very or extremely likely to vote.” This is reminiscent of the primaries, when college students turned out for Bernie Sanders. And young people are paying “a lot” or “some” attention to the election.

Technical barriers to voting -- misunderstanding of laws allowing students to vote locally, hostility or reticence on the part of local election officials, restrictive voter identification laws, long lines at the polls and transportation concerns -- affect turnout. Students also face motivational barriers. Candidates, parties or partisan organizations are not contacting young people at levels commensurate with other age groups. Research suggests that this kind of contact informs and motivates voters. Indeed, Donald Trump’s message that the system is “rigged,” that Clinton is corrupt and that voting would be a tacit acceptance of an illegitimate system may deter some student voters.

Students may also be trending up in issue activism, as evidenced by their interest in Black Lives Matter, ending sexual assault on campus and other social action. This activism may trickle over to the election. Students at Liberty University have issued a statement criticizing their president, Jerry Falwell Jr., for supporting Trump. In August, the Harvard Republican Club denounced Donald Trump as the party’s nominee. At Cornell University, College Republicans endorsed Libertarian Gary Johnson.

At Furman University, students were upset by low turnout reflected in their NSLVE voting report, so they did some investigating. They discovered that local election officials were requiring Furman students living in dormitories to complete a questionnaire asking them for evidence of ties to the local community (such as where they socialize or attend church). Several students sued the local election officials and obtained a temporary restraining order prohibiting the use of such screening.

We also see evidence that colleges and universities are supporting nonpartisan political engagement, whether registering new voters, convening campus dialogues on public issues, joining national debate-watch efforts or signing up for intercampus voting competitions. And we know there is institutional-level interest given the fact that over 900 colleges and universities nationally have opted into our voting study, NSLVE. These are promising developments.

Despite such signs, we worry that registered students won’t show up to vote. While other research based on survey responses suggests that more than 80 percent of Americans who register to vote actually do vote, our study, which is based on merged enrollment and publicly available voting records, tells a different story for college students. In 2012, only 63 percent of students aged 18 to 24 who registered to vote actually voted. This suggests a drop-off of interest or commitment in the weeks before, or even the day of, the election.

Elections offer opportunities for students to establish habits of productive political discourse and enthusiasm for political activism and engagement, behaviors that should continue year-round, beyond an election season. While colleges and universities cannot endorse one candidate over another, they can offer learning experiences that examine the candidates’ policy proposals and perspectives.

Unfortunately, we’re hearing from campuses that talking about this election without sounding partisan has been difficult. Donald Trump’s taped comments about women clash with nationwide efforts to curb sexual assault on campus. The offensive statements Trump has made about Muslims, Mexicans, people with disabilities and other groups are antithetical to messages of equal opportunity and inclusion important to higher education institutions -- and to values supported by millennials, the most diverse generation in American history. And both candidates face challenges over trustworthiness and truthfulness, core values on college campuses. We hope that these dynamics will be seen as learning opportunities, not barriers.

Colleges and universities should not be impartial about student learning for and participation in democracy. Cultivating students for responsible stewardship of public affairs is a critical and longstanding part of higher education’s academic mission. A broken system with unpopular candidates will only be reformed by increased public participation, particularly for young people who may be disaffected but who have the most at stake.

Nancy Thomas directs the Institute for Democracy and Higher Education and the National Study of Learning, Voting and Engagement at Tufts University’s Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life. NSLVE is both a service to colleges and universities -- providing more than 900 institutions nationally with tailored reports containing their students’ voter registration and voting rates -- and a database of 8.5 million student records, which is used to study college student political learning and engagement in democracy. If you have a story to share about how your institution is fostering political learning and engagement in the democracy, please share it at [email protected]. IDHE may feature it in an upcoming publication. You can also follow IDHE on Twitter @TuftsIDHE.

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University presidents join in statement calling for next U.S. president to embrace diversity and diplomacy

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Eight university presidents join statement on values they and others hope to see in next U.S. president. The statement doesn't name a candidate, but it's hard not to see who is being talked about.

As Clinton targets young African-American voters, HBCUs see chance for improved relationship with Democratic White House

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As campaign focuses on turnout of young black voters, leaders of historically black colleges see opportunity for stronger relationship with Clinton than they had with Obama White House.

Trump makes his most substantial comments yet on higher ed

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In most sustained comments on colleges in the campaign, GOP candidate worries about student debt, endorses income-based repayment, blasts institutions with "bloat" and large endowments, and vows to protect students' free speech. UPDATE: Clinton campaign responds.

How the conservative movement has undermined trust in academe (essay)

Accepting the Republican presidential nomination in July, Donald Trump accused his Democratic opponents of offering “carefully crafted lies” and “media myths,” promising to “present the facts plainly and honestly.” One week later, Hillary Clinton claimed in her own acceptance speech that only Democrats “believe in science” and “sweat the details of policy,” criticizing Trump for dismissing policy experts and attacking reporters.

Both candidates presented carefully chosen statistics to justify their very different policy visions, continuing a pattern that leaves citizens with the impression that data serves as just another weapon used for political arguments. Shared facts seem to be a victim of the polarized American political system.

But a closer look reveals that each party’s relationship to information -- and the institutions that produce it -- is quite distinct. Republicans aim rhetorical fire at “mainstream” news media and “elitist” experts, whom they view as biased actors surreptitiously working to advance the cause of liberalism. Democrats defend these traditional intellectual authorities, accusing Republicans of abandoning scientific consensus and cocooning themselves in a conservative media universe with little respect for objective inquiry.

A common history lies behind those sentiments: only the Republican Party has actively opposed society’s central information-gathering and -disseminating institutions -- universities and the news media -- while Democrats have remained reliant on those institutions to justify policy choices and engage in political debate, considering them both independent arbiters and allies. Although each party’s elites, activists and voters now depend on different sources of knowledge and selectively interpret the messages they receive, the source of this information polarization is the American conservative movement’s decades-long battle against institutions that it has deemed irredeemably liberal.

Universities are thus caught in the partisan crossfire but unable to plead nonpartisanship without evoking conservative suspicions. Like journalists, faculty members are no longer regarded as impartial conveyors of information by Republicans; academics seek to conform to norms of objectivity but face a skeptical audience on one side of the partisan aisle. As institutions that strive to inform policy debates even as they remain dependent on support from political leaders, universities confront the difficult task of fulfilling their traditional research role and engaging in more active problem-solving missions while they find themselves increasingly treated as combatants in an ideological battle.

Our new book, Asymmetric Politics: Ideological Republicans and Group Interest Democrats, tells the strikingly parallel stories of how the conservative movement simultaneously undermined popular faith in both mainstream academe and journalism among its supporters, building and reinforcing Republican reliance on alternative ideological information sources. Our investigation combines historical studies with analysis of partisan political messages, public opinion, media coverage and research reports stretching over several decades.

Today, we find that Republicans are more likely than Democrats to consume media that are openly aligned with their political orientation and to distrust other news outlets. The establishment of an explicitly right-of-center media ecosystem as a conscious alternative to “mainstream” journalism allows conservative media personalities to exert an influence over Republican officeholders and voters that has no true counterpart among Democrats. Similarly, Republicans have attacked university-based researchers for advancing leftist ideas and have built explicitly conservative think tanks to reorient Washington policy debates. We find differences in the content and sources of these elite information sources, which reinforce appeals to ideology among Republicans and specialized policy analysis among Democrats.

This structural imbalance both reflects and reinforces the larger asymmetry between the parties: Republicans are organized around broad symbolic principles, whereas Democrats are a coalition of social groups with particular policy concerns. Republican perceptions of widespread bias in the mainstream media and academic community encourage party members to view themselves as engaged in an ideological battle with a hostile liberal “establishment,” turning even their choice of news or research source into a conscious act of conservative self-assertion. Consumers of conservative news media and think-tank reports are exposed to a steady flow of content that further promotes that perspective.

Democrats, in contrast, are relatively content to rely on traditional news media and intellectual sources that often implicitly flatter the Democratic worldview but do not portray themselves or their consumers as engaged in an ideological conflict. Fox News Channel and conservative talk radio lack equally popular and influential counterparts on the left. Similarly, left-of-center think tanks have adapted to conservative upstarts by frequently opposing them in policy debates, but still retain broader ties to scholarly researchers and closer adherence to academic norms.

Both Democratic voters and elites therefore remain relatively unexposed to messages that describe political conflict as reflecting the clash of two incompatible value systems. Instead, the information environment in which they reside claims to prize objectivity, empiricism and policy expertise -- thus remaining highly congruent with the character of the Democratic Party as a coalition of voters who demand targeted government actions.

Our observations do not constitute a value judgment against the conservative movement’s approach. Conservatives have had a good reason to build alternative institutions: academe and the news media are both disproportionately populated by liberals and Democrats, and have become more so over time. Most journalists and professors do not view their proper professional responsibility as advancing a left-wing political agenda, but the collective left-leaning orientation of academics and reporters influences their output -- even if implicitly or unconsciously. Conservative suspicions of science and the news media are based on fundamentally correct perceptions of these professions as disproportionately occupied by liberals.

A Self-Reinforcing Process

Although conservative elites long viewed academe and journalism as hostile to their politics, it required a sustained effort to transmit that distrust to their public supporters and to promote their alternatives. Accusations of liberal bias in each institution have long been more common than accusations of conservative bias. Declining public approval of academics and journalists coincided with the rise of alternative sources on the right that popularized ideologically motivated criticisms of these professions. Previous research shows how distrust of the news media helped to fuel conservative alternatives, which in turn gave rise to more media distrust. We find that academe has similarly become increasingly entangled in partisan conflict.

In a self-reinforcing process, conservatives have come to distrust ostensibly nonpartisan scientists and professors while creating an alternative research infrastructure for policy debate -- providing the Republican Party with its own network of policy experts that further undermines the standing of the academic community in the eyes of the right. Beginning with William F. Buckley’s God and Man at Yale in 1951, the conservative movement has long attacked academe as excessively secular, liberal and disrespectful of social institutions and America’s exceptional history. Campus protest activity in the 1960s provoked more antagonism from the right, prompting future U.S. Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell Jr. to recommend that conservatives develop their own scholarly networks and institutions to balance faculties, demand equal time in campus speaking and media debates, and evaluate textbooks.

Conservatives founded Accuracy in Academia in 1985 to be a campus watchdog, following up with efforts to create networks of conservative academics. Conservative critics as diverse as Rush Limbaugh, Allan Bloom and Dinesh D’Souza later found easy targets in academe, constantly poking fun at “political correctness” and deploring or mocking the behavior of extremely liberal professors. Although initially focused on the humanities and social sciences, the scope of conservative targets grew to include the hard sciences in debates over environmental regulation -- especially climate change -- and issues such as stem cell research that pitted scientists against religious authorities.

Attacks by conservative-movement leaders on academic science have successfully influenced the conservative public. Data from the General Social Survey demonstrate that declining public faith in science is concentrated among conservatives. Compared to Democrats, Republicans are significantly less likely to trust what scientists say, more critical of political bias in academe and less confident in colleges and universities. Negative attitudes toward science and the media also intersect, with one-third of Republicans reporting no trust in journalists to accurately report scientific studies. Attitudes toward scientists have become more polarized while confidence in the role of scientists in political debates has eroded overall.

Just as the conservative movement built a national media apparatus, conservatives have also developed a network of policy experts outside the liberal confines of academe. The key development in the rise of this rival center of power was the 1973 founding of the Heritage Foundation by former Republican congressional aides Paul Weyrich and Edwin Feulner. Heritage represents the “prototypical advocacy think tank” with “no academic pretensions,” in the words of economist and former Ronald Reagan adviser Murray Weidenbaum, seeing itself as engaged in a “war of ideas” rather than producing objective scholarship.

In a 1988 speech at the American Enterprise Institute, another conservative think tank, Reagan himself noted that conservative ideas had been “greeted with varying degrees of scorn and hostility by what we used to call the establishment institutions … And so, it became necessary to create our own research institutions.” Reagan used the speech to declare “the triumph of the think tank,” saying “the most important American scholarship comes out of our think tanks.” Nationwide, conservative think tanks outnumber their liberal counterparts by a two-to-one margin and have been growing at a much faster rate than left-leaning or nonideological institutions.

From the Democratic point of view, Republicans have undermined a system of empirical expertise based in academe by establishing institutions for ideological advocacy disguised as scholarly enterprises. From the Republican perspective, separate groups of policy specialists agree with the objectives of each party; any deviations from a balance between those two sides constitutes bias. This dispute in interpretation does not challenge the agreed-upon facts: the conservative movement founded a series of think tanks to counteract a liberal academic establishment and expects them to be treated as equally respected participants in policy debates.

Compared to Republicans, Democrats are more likely to trust scientists to supply the research base for public policy -- just as Democrats rely primarily on mainstream news media outlets to report on problems, debate potential solutions and police the information presented by each side. Perceiving liberal bias in both sets of institutions, Republicans look to their own network of think tanks to provide research consistent with conservative ideology and to a set of avowedly conservative media sources to popularize their ideas among the public.

The same patterns of information use and dissemination are repeated in every election and each policy dispute, producing a political conversation that is less a “great debate” over principles and policies than an asymmetric dialogue between combatants who do not share each other’s premises. Democrats accuse Republicans of ignoring scientific information and enveloping themselves in an alternative media universe -- criticisms that have some merit but understate conservatives’ legitimate aversion to trusting institutions overwhelmingly composed of liberals to fairly adjudicate information on the public’s behalf. The two sides talk past one another when they intersect, but conservatives’ successful efforts to delegitimize mainstream outlets and to construct alternatives mean that Republicans are more often engaged in a separate conversation.

University faculty and administrators, like reporters and media executives, have suffered a decline in prestige and influence from a societal conflict in which attacks come overwhelmingly from the ideological right. Academics and journalists can neither ignore conservative critiques in the hope that bipartisan trust will automatically return nor abandon their own formal neutrality to become openly left-wing mirror images of conservative institutions. This damage will be difficult to repair, but requires an acknowledgment that academe has become a central participant in contemporary partisan debates, with the Republican leadership and nearly half of the American public standing in fervent opposition. Mainstream researchers and journalists may claim a devotion to simple empirical objectivity, but this stance is difficult to maintain when information has become fodder for the political wars.

Matt Grossmann is director of the institute for public policy and social research at Michigan State University, and David A. Hopkins is an assistant professor of political science at Boston College. This submission is adapted from Asymmetric Politics: Ideological Republicans and Group Interest Democrats, published last month by Oxford University Press.

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Academics declare support for Donald Trump

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A group of professors and not-so-academic writers declare support for the GOP presidential candidate. But the list of signatures highlights Trump's limited appeal in academe, even among Republican presidential candidates.

Clinton campaign promotes free college proposal with release of cost calculator tool

Hillary Clinton's campaign promotes her debt-free college plan with a tool showing future students and current borrowers how much they would save under her proposals.

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