I feel like I have undergone many ideological transformations during my time at the University of Oregon. I came as a social conservative, dabbled in communist and socialist theory, toyed with nihilism, and settled on libertarianism… for now. The one thing I’m proud of is that my social/political beliefs came to me on my own terms.
But it wasn’t always that way. I started out life with the same beliefs that my parents held, which is true for most students fresh out of high school. It’s an acceptable influence because by the time I figured out I should be figuring these types of things out for myself, I had a pretty good amount of real world experience to head in whatever direction I wanted to go.
But, I feel as if my earlier ideological shifts weren’t truly reflective of the type of person I wanted to be. Of all people, my college professors strongly influenced my political beliefs, but not by simply exposing me to alternative ideas. They injected their own beliefs into their teachings, which is a practice I have come to abhor.
Of course, I am ultimately responsible for what I believe (because nobody forced me to accept a socialist or communist opinion on anything), but I have encountered a couple of situations on tests where an answer was expected to be from the perspective of a particular ideology or truth to be marked as “correct.”
It can be argued that bias is inherent within any professor and that a professor cannot be expected to keep his or her political beliefs out of his or her lecture. I’m in complete agreement with that, but not when the professor fails to either explain his or her political views to the class before lecturing (therefore arming the student with the appropriate tool to filter fact from opinion) or teaches his or her opinion as fact without stopping the lecture to explain where the facts stop and the opinions come in.