Letters

Who's 'brainwashing' college students?

Regarding your May 24 story "Brainwashing on Campus": The brainwashing comes from both sides of the political spectrum. Returning as an adult student to Rutgers University with a pre-law/political science major, I have had far more conservative professors than liberal.

As a political moderate and critical thinker, I have found myself appalled at some of the ultraright, neoconservative indoctrination of impressionable youth. I have been shushed, criticized, and publicly humiliated for my "conspiracy theories" by some conservative instructors. There were other conservative professors, however, who embraced and nurtured me, allowing me to share my views with the class.

The perception of brainwashing or indoctrination is in the eye of the beholder. Every author or teacher spins. The reader or student must recognize this and interpret the material as it applies to his or her own classroom or life experiences. The main point of a college education is to teach students to think analytically. The fact that Ben Shapiro published a book criticizing the political ideologies of his university proves that this goal has been accomplished.
Noni Bookbinder Bell
Shamong, N.J.

I, too, experienced what Mr. Shapiro outlines in his book "Brainwashed: How Universities Indoctrinate America's Youth" while attending a small college with a large liberal political body in north Texas. As assistant editor of the college newspaper, the goal was to generate controversy and discussion with my editorials, which I did during the year with several political articles that were frowned upon by the editor and the faculty adviser - both Democrats.

When the editor and other assistant editor graduated, I applied for the editor's position. I did not receive the job and have felt strongly since that I was passed over partly because of my controversial, conservative editorials. That situation initiated my decision to leave that college.

The liberal indoctrination on college campuses is widespread. I had many conservative professors who disagreed with President Clinton at my second university. They expressed opinions and then listened to and debated other ideas. Such tolerance from liberal professors is rare, in my experience.
Presten Witherspoon
Pasadena, Texas

As founder of NoIndoctrination.org, I'd like to correct some misperceptions about our organization in your article about campus brainwashing.

First, NoIndoctrination.org is not "conservative." Education, not ideology, is our interest. I didn't start this project because I was concerned that my "son's college professors were promoting an overly liberal agenda." I was concerned that sociopolitical agendas had replaced the advertised course description for a required freshman writing course.

Second, the purpose of the NoIndoctrination.org website is not "to share accounts of liberal indoctrination," as your article states. It's a website for students to expose courses and programs that do not adhere to university-endorsed standards of academic freedom and professional conduct - no matter where these fall along the sociopolitical spectrum.

Last, we have not taken a position on the proposed Academic Bill of Rights legislation.
Luann Wright
La Mesa, Calif.
President, NoIndoctrination.org

After six years of college (undergraduate and graduate education) I can say that all college professors are biased to some extent. They are not, after all, robots. The trouble occurs when or if they stifle dissent.
Matthew Cooley
Philadelphia

The Monitor welcomes your letters and opinion articles. Because of the volume of mail we receive, we can neither acknowledge nor return unpublished submissions. All submissions are subject to editing. Letters must be signed and include your mailing address and telephone number.

Any letter accepted will appear in print and on www.csmonitor.com .

Mail letters to 'Readers Write,' and opinion articles to Opinion Page, One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, or fax to 617-450-2317, or e-mail to Letters.

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