Faculty donations lean toward the left
Published: Monday, October 22, 2012
Updated: Monday, April 22, 2013 19:04
According to public donation records, university faculty and staff tend to contribute more to Democratic candidates’ campaigns.
The faculty and staff have donated at least $34,575 to Democrats and at least $9,600 to Republicans over the last two years, according to OpenSecrets.org.
The website publicly displays data about political campaigns, including comprehensive lists of monetary donors. With an occupational search filtering option, anyone can access faculty and staff political donation records.
According to the website, President Barack Obama raised $555,987,426 and Republican Presidential Nominee Mitt Romney raised $340,226,148 from small and large individual contributions, self-financing and “other,” as of Saturday. Romney received more than $900,000 from political action committees, while the website shows PACs did not donate to Obama.
Russ Choma, an OpenSecrets.org political reporter said the distribution of funds is very different between the two campaigns. Obama’s “Top 20 Donors” list includes several universities. According to the website, the biggest spenders on his presidential campaign are University of California staff, who gave $927,568 as of Monday.
In contrast, Romney’s “Top 20 Donors” do not include universities, Choma said. Many large corporations are Romney’s top funders, he said. The website shows employees at Goldman Sachs contributed $965,140 as of Monday, making them the largest donors.
Senior political science major Amanda Schechter said she is not surprised to hear university faculty donations favor Obama.
“It’s a known fact that educators are more liberal because they have more progressive ideas on things like research and social policies,” Schechter said. “Delaware is known to be a Democratic state, especially the area that we’re in.”
Despite faculty donations, Schechter said her professors have all made an effort to maintain neutrality in the classroom.
“Sometimes I play a game where I try to figure out who my professors support based on certain little things they say, but they won’t openly admit it,” Schechter said.
The university is a nonprofit institution meaning it cannot make political donations from its own funds, according to Faculty Senate President and accounting professor Sheldon Pollack. He said nonprofit organizations like universities and churches operate on donations and gifts. Therefore, nonprofits generally cannot show bias toward a particular candidate—instead, they are intended to represent the public, Pollack said.
At least five professors who donated more than $1,000 to a campaign declined to comment on their donations.
Pollack said he donated $300 to Romney last October because individual donations are critical to a campaign’s success.
“If you don’t have the money, you can’t run an effective campaign,” he said. “It costs millions now. Even local and state representatives have to have a lot of money.”
According to Choma, the entire 2012 presidential election has cost $2.3 billion so far for both candidates.