DEVLIN: How to Survive a Semester with a Leftist Professor


Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Last week, my history professor gave a lecture about the Russian Revolution in my class titled International Relations from 1914 to the Present. The lecture would have been historically accurate if he hadn’t failed to mention Vladimir Lenin’s older brother Aleksandr Ulyanov was a terrorist, or that lower-bound estimate Lenin’s Red Terror killed at least twice as many people as the White Terror.

While surprising, this isn’t out of the ordinary given the left’s domination of camus academia. As a student at UC Berkeley, I’ve become well accustomed to my professors having a strong leftist bias, and one of the most frequently asked questions I get from prospective students is how to deal with a leftist professor.

Several political pundits have commented on exactly how to deal with these leftist professors, but there are several different factors to take into account when determining a way forward in a class where you and the professor don’t see eye to eye.

It’s important to initially give your professor the benefit of the doubt. Even though their opinions may be a heaping pile of flaming garbage, it doesn’t mean they won’t be interested in discussing your political opinions more in depth during office hours. If they are open-minded, it’s in your best interest to foster a relationship with that professor because those discussions can challenge and grow your beliefs.

A solid letter of recommendation from a liberal professor that considered you an intellectual adversary can go a long way when applying for internships, postgraduate education, or jobs. Once you visit office hours, you’ll be able to determine if and how your leftist professor might grade you down for your political opinions.

In Dennis Prager’s opinion, long-time radio show host and conservative political pundit, believes how receptive your professor is to your views does not matter because if you’re willing to compromise on your principles for a letter on a report card, what values won’t you compromise when things get tougher down the road? In my opinion, Prager presents a false-binary when you’re confronted with a leftist professor. I agree with Prager that we shouldn’t regurgitate the professor’s lies or incorrect opinions simply because they hold a position of authority. But, if your professor is particularly combative, and you’re a student with ambitions to go to law school, graduate school, or any other post graduate education, sacrificing your GPA could have serious consequences when it may really matter for your career.

There are other strategies you can put to use that allow you to argue your opinion while protecting your GPA. Having a strong, central argument is crucial to your success as a student, regardless of your political viewpoint. However, if you’re making an argument the professor already doesn’t agree with, and your paper is littered with glaring, logical fallacies, it will be much easier for your grader to pick your paper apart. Every argument is built around its concessions and rebuttals. Well, thought-out concessions based on your professor’s political opinions lets your grader know you understand the course material and gives the professor the satisfaction that while you disagree with his opinions, they might have an ounce of intellectual creedence.

If you find this strategy is not working for you, don’t drop the class and delay declaring your major or shy away from liberal professors in the future because these experiences further your understanding of leftist philosophy and make you a stronger advocate for conservative values. Grade appeal processes and other campus resources are designed to handle these types of situations, so make sure you get acquainted with academic advisors that can help you in these situations if all else fails.

Bradley Devlin is a student at the University of California Berkeley studying Political Economics and serves as the President of the Berkeley College Republicans.

The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.

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About Bradley Devlin

University of California, Berkeley

Bradley Devlin is a student at the University of California Berkeley studying Political Economics and serves as the President of the Berkeley College Republicans.

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