Santorum Criticizes Penn State, Professors for Liberal Bias

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In the midst of a back-and-forth with former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney over control of Republican primary results, former Pennsylvania Senator and Penn State grad Rick Santorum has been no stranger to media attention. Just last week, Santorum attracted attention after calling President Obama a snob for wanting more Americans to receive some form of higher education.

In a recent interview with Detroit-based Talk Radio 1270, the show’s host Charlie Langton further questioned Santorum regarding his beliefs on higher education. When asked whether or not he wanted his children to attend college, Santorum answered:

“I’m very careful about the colleges and universities our children go to. There are schools, I went to one — Penn State — that’s one of the liberal icons, unfortunately it’s gotten a lot worse. I can tell you professor after professor who docked my grades because of the viewpoints I expressed and the papers that I wrote, there’s no question that happened.”

Santorum went on to say that while at Penn State, a tenure that resulted in both an undergraduate degree and a J.D. (he got his MBA from Pitt), his grades “absolutely” suffered due to his personal views, citing an overall liberal bias in higher education.

The notion of a liberal bias in higher education is nothing new, but is there any legitimacy to Santorum’s claim? Or is it more likely that Santorum is scapegoating his professors’ alleged liberal agendas to compensate for an inability to adequately grasp concepts conveyed in his studies?

Although it does not appear that any professors in the Political Science department were around to help shed light on Santorum’s Penn State glory days, associate professor Pete Hatemi was able to share some insight.

“We should learn how to build an argument,” Hatemi said. “[Professors] can grade on the tools you use, not how you use them in regards to their own opinion. Any credible professor would never inject their own opinions into matters.”

Hatemi did acknowledge that while this should be the case, not everyone in higher education subscribes to the same ethical standards. However, if there really was a liberal crusade to quell conservative sentiments among students, about half of the student body should be facing issues similar to Santorum when considering the tw0 party system that dominates United States politics.

Ultimately, Hatemi believes Santorum’s grievances likely resulted from how he was interpreting material as opposed to the opinions and viewpoints he conveyed through these interpretations.

“When people don’t get the scores [they]want, people target it how they want.”

Have you ever felt that you were unfairly graded due to your political beliefs? Do you believe there’s merit to Santorum’s claims?

Photo By: NHPR via Flickr
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Ali Fogarty is a senior from the suburbs of Philadelphia majoring in Public Relations and Political Science who's passionate about Netflix and everything bagels.

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  1. Finnegan Bojangles on

    So… by his logic… all of the California schools should be burned to the ground for being godless devil-worshipping heathens?

    Penn State is pretty conservative relative to a lot of other universities. Yeah, there probably is a liberal slant at most schools, but he picked the wrong one to single out on that.

    His rationale is probably something along the lines of “WAAAHHH, WAAAHHH! I’m not getting the grades I want! It’S not because I don’t have a complete grasp of the materials and didn’t prepare adequately, so therefore it’s MUST BE BECAUSE I AM AN OUTSPOKEN CONSERVATIVE AND MY LIBERAL COMMUNIST GOD-HATING HOMOSEXUAL PROFESSORS ARE OUT TO GET ME! WAAAHHH, WAAAHHH!”

  2. As a college student I can confirm that what you put in a paper had damn well better be what your grader wants to read. That’s actually kind of the problem he’s running into now with the American public, isn’t it?

  3. I bet he didn’t understand evolution in an intro bio class and thinks his failing that exam constitutes as infringing on his “beliefs”.

  4. Jeni Hill Ertmer on

    If, considering I started as a Labor Relations major at Penn State and Labor Relations professors are, as a general rule, pro-union and being pro-union is usually considered to be a liberal stance, I suppose those professors I had would be considered as liberal. However, I never felt they graded my papers unfairly on those few occasions I may have interjected a tiny bit of conservative thought there. I will say the TA’s who graded most of my history papers though were the most unfair in their grading. If I went into detail about 1 aspect and got length/depth there but due to space and time limitations (in a blue book exam) they would dock me then for not covering enough other aspects and if I went for coverage of as many aspects as possible, I would then be docked for not enough depth coverage. Seemed it was a no-win situation with that but I never felt they put me down for my views when different from theirs in perspective of liberal vs conservative thought. I think Santorum is just one big cry-baby, making excuses whenever, wherever he thinks he can.

  5. Santorum’s rhetoric is reminiscent of Hitler’s (paraphrasing); “If it wasn’t for ‘them’, the world would be a better place”.  Stop the deamonizing Rick and start talking about things people do care about . . . and by all means, feel free to sever your ties to Penn State – we’re severing ours to you.

  6. Bottom line is, it’s Santorum’s own fault that his grades suffered because of his conservative views. Its fine if you have your own views, but if your teacher is liberal and also the one grading your assignments, then that clearly explains how you should operate. If his grades were truly suffering because of this, then someone should have taught him how to gage a teacher and act accordingly.

    Not saying its right, but everyone and their brother knows that you write a paper towards the teacher’s liking if you want to optimize your chances of success. I can absolutley picture Santorum as a young, hungry conservative who wished to prove to everyone why he was right. Can’t blame the professors for not aligning with this…

  7. its all about how you prensent your arguments. polisci and law both are open to immense interpertaion  you can argue anything you want in a paper, it comes down to how you defend those points agaisnt all sorts of possible attacks.  Coming up with a concise arguement is not an easy task.  maybe its just that Santorum cant piece together a logical argument.

  8. not right to have to play to a teacher’s views, whether you’re liberal or conservative, i meant

  9. Spencer Malloy on

    In the interest of creating as much space as possible between PSU and Santorum, I want to point out that he only received his undergraduate degree from Penn State. When he received his J.D. in 1986 from Dicksinson, it was still an independent law school. The PSU merger didn’t happen until 2000. 

  10. This guy is hilarious. Distancing himself from his alma mater when it’s already been hit pretty hard recently. The guy is a snake. And it’s hilarious to think that he has any chance of beating Romney, let alone elected to the presidency. 

  11. Rick probably meant to say: “I never should have gone to college or law school.  I already knew everything I needed before I got there.  They just tried to confuse me with other stuff that did not fit into my world view!  When I refused to listen to any other points of view they docked my grades!  But I got the last laugh-I was a Senator!  Isn’t Pennsylvania a great place to live!”

  12. I think you are being a little too kind to Santorum in this article. There is a tendency in the media to try to treat both sides in a debate like they have merit, to give the appearance of being “unbiased”. When a person on one side is clearly a fucking idiot, as is the case with Santorum, the media should say so.

  13. Current PSU Student on

    What he meant to say was, “I never got laid at PSU. Therefore, PSU and everyone at it must be wrong, and not me.”

  14. Wonderful…now Rick Santorum jumping on the bash PSU bandwagon. Maybe he should be worried about taking care of his child that has a debilitating illness with an awful prognosis, instead of campaigning for president. He is sacrificing precious time with her.