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In his recent Bangor Daily News column, “Colleges are too liberal and it is hurting their enrollment,” Matthew Gagnon seems to paint a moderate assessment of the political environment at American universities. The argument for more balanced political representation at our learning institutions seems admirable on its face, but I think the messenger here reeks of hypocrisy.
Gagnon ends his column by noting that he, himself, is beginning a master’s degree program in economics. So has he searched out the most balanced institution for his studies? Of course not. Instead he has chosen George Mason University, whose economics department is considered one of the most conservative in the country.
George Mason’s economics department owes much of its prominence to tens of millions of dollars in donations from one of the Koch brothers. Those would be the same Koch brothers whose funding of political groups in the 2010s seeded much of the political division we are dealing with today.
It is also worth noting that Gagnon is currently the CEO of the Maine Policy Institute, described as a ” free market think tank.” George Mason University is home to the Mercatus Center, one of the nation’s premier ” free market think tanks.” So rather than seek the diversity of knowledge that he says he desires in higher education, it seems he is merely following the path that will most reinforce his own views and boost his conservative bona-fides.
Contrary to his stated intentions, Gagnon’s column comes across as bad-faith criticism that further divides us.