Campus Reform | Virginia Tech president admits US has lost trust in overly politicized higher ed

Virginia Tech president admits US has lost trust in overly politicized higher ed

In his response to the U.S. Capitol riots, the president of Virginia Tech acknowledged that a politically-biased higher education industry led to division in the United States.

One Virginia Tech department chair took serious issue with the statement, even asserting that a call toward "actively listening to those whose views differ from your own” is “offensive in the extreme.”

In his response to the U.S. Capitol riots on January 6, Virginia Tech President Tim Sands had a different approach than his colleagues at other universities, acknowledging that many Americans have "lost trust" in higher education because of political bias.

Sands’ statement — entitled “Model critical thinking and commit to serve your communities” — discussed his “profound sadness and deep disappointment” over the Capitol building attack, though he rarely speaks out on “issues that may seem political in nature.”

While pondering the causes for division in American society, Sands pointed to “distrust in our governmental institutions at all levels” and “the proliferation of inaccurate information on the internet and social media.” He advised students to “understand the principles embedded in the U.S. Constitution and our legal system” so that they can avoid manipulation “by those who would try to indoctrinate us.”

[RELATED: Conservative students nationwide denounce Capitol Hill attack]

Sands recognized that “significant segments of society have lost trust in higher education to teach our students without political bias.”

“All institutions of higher education must commit to respecting the trust that has been placed in us by creating learning environments that ensure that our students can listen to a wide range of positions and analyze the verifiable evidence before drawing a conclusion,” explained Sands.

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Matthew Gabriele — professor and chair of Virginia Tech’s Department of Religion and Culture — was less than enthused with Sands’s statement.

“Yeah, CERTAIN people have lost faith in governmental institutions and are consuming false information,” explained Gabriele on Twitter. “But they have a name and they live almost exclusively on the political right. and race has something to do with this.”

Gabriele also dismissed Sands’s assertion about political indoctrination in higher education, calling it a “FALSE right-wing talking point” that has been “debunked again and again and again.”

Finally, Gabriele asserted that Sands’s call toward “actively listening to those whose views differ from your own” was “offensive in the extreme.”

Campus Reform reached out to Virginia Tech and Gabriele for comment; this article will be updated accordingly.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @BenZeisloft