by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Chris West writes for the Martin Center about his experience as a conservative working in an administrative position at UNC.
When I accepted an administrative position at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, friends warned me that I would not fit in as a conservative. I dismissed their concerns as hyperbole, an instance of believing universities are more politicized than they actually are.
After eight long months, however, I had to admit that they were right. The political atmosphere in the college bureaucracy does not tolerate political disagreement and is overwhelmingly left-leaning.
Administrators keep large universities running and help students access the extra services for which they pay. University staff handle finances, work in human resources, or, in my case, serve as program administrators. Most of my job was focused on marketing events and making sure vendors get paid. I would do the small behind-the-scenes work that keeps a program running.
Though those basic duties are non-political, the office environment can be anything but.
That point was brought home to me when, one day, my supervisor walked into my office and said, “I just can’t stand you anymore. You don’t fit in here and you don’t even seem to realize it.” I was dumbfounded.
She expressed concern with my general demeanor and my desire to take classes—which is an employee benefit at all UNC system campuses. …
… She refused to cite any specific issues with my job performance, even after three meetings between herself and my program director. Additionally, she reprimanded me for attending a meal with a visiting lecturer—which the department offers as a benefit to faculty and staff—and warned me that I needed to “learn my place.”
Of greater concern, she took issue with me talking to students about my religious and political views and threatened to have me removed from my job if she got another complaint that I shared my views.