For the last three years I have been attending classes all over this campus. I am a history major, but I have always tried to pick a wide variety of classes for my general education courses and other electives. I have also begun working towards a minor in communications and took a few upper-level English writing courses, aside from the general education requirements. I have taken many courses across the curriculum, although I have never stepped foot inside McConnell Hall, so I cannot speak on what that part of the student body has been taught. My history courses have ranged from ancient civilizations to modern U.S., which is my focus. Of all the classes I have taken during my time here, I feel as though I have been preached a few overlying messages: Fox News is the devil! Do not let yourself be brainwashed by corporate propaganda! We don't get paid enough money! Sometimes I feel a little sorry for the conservative students on campus and what they have to listen to all day.
While I tend to agree with most of my professors on those ideas, even I feel that sometimes our professors at UNH can be overly liberal with their beliefs and teaching agenda. Politically speaking, I am a pretty liberal person, but I also prefer not to have my professor's personal political beliefs affect the content of a class. When a professor tells the class "We won't spend too much time on President Reagan (or Bill Clinton or George W. Bush) because I am too bias to give a fair lecture," that really pisses me off. I have had all three of those situations happen to me with different professors. I am paying thousands of dollars to go to school here and you cannot give a fair lecture on major presidents of the United States? I am a modern U.S. history major and, whether you like Reagan, Clinton and Bush or not, they are incredibly important to my field of study. I am sorry, UNH, but that does not sound too fair and balanced to me. I cannot learn everything from Wikipedia, just a large majority of it.
Everyone knows that Fox News has a conservative agenda, but so does almost every other news channel, whether they are liberal or conservative. I have had professor after professor of all subjects speak out against Fox News, but never once have I heard a professor say anything negative about MSNBC's liberal side. MSNBC has tried to become the liberal news channel, but I find myself watching and paying more attention to Fox News than MSNBC. Granted, I think that is more for the entertainment value of watching Bill O'Reilly telling his guests to shut up or Glenn Beck creating some conspiracy theory, all the while being secretly terrified that thousands, if not millions, of people believe him.
Then I have professors telling me to be aware of major corporations, media conglomerations and their tricky marketing campaigns. But then I go out to the Durham Book Exchange to buy my semesters worth of books, and when I finally sit down to study the night before the first exam of the year I see that my professor co-authored or edited the book, or it was written by one of his or her old graduate school buddies. Universities have become giant machines like most of the corporations our professors tell us to watch out for.
I do not want to come off as a conspiracy theorist (although I do have a life goal of gaining access to Area 51), but I think it is important for students to step back once in a while and really think about what we are being taught. One major learning tool that has been beaten relentlessly into my brain has been to look for bias in every source, document and article I read, and try to be fair and balanced with my analysis and interpretations. But is it truly fair for students to be expected to do that when the professor directs the class in one direction? I believe overly liberal or conservative professors can be just as damaging as overly liberal or conservative news channels, especially for students who are too afraid to question the answers. I will be the first to admit I have an open bias and agenda on my blog and in my columns - we all do in every conversation we have. But when those biases or agendas keep professors from giving a fair and balanced lecture it is not any different than a conservative school board editing what is said in high school textbooks.
Stay classy, not UMassy,
The New Hampshirite