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Ken Kalthoff, NBCDFW.com
CampusReform.org, a conservative watchdog group, claims "liberal bias" at Southern Methodist University.
A conservative group says liberal political bias exists at Southern Methodist University.
SMU's entry on CampusReform.org says the Dallas university shows evidence of liberal bias in faculty, student organizations and administrative policies.
The Leadership Institute put together in-depth profiles of the nation’s top 100 research universities as ranked by U.S. News and World Report. SMU is No. 68 on the U.S. News and World Report list.
The charge of liberal bias comes at an institution where Laura Bush, the wife of former Republican President George W. Bush, is a graduate and trustee.
Former Republican Vice President Dick Cheney is a former trustee.
SMU was criticized for having a conservative bias by its acceptance of the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Institute, which is currently under construction on the Dallas campus.
"I would say that the George Bush Library's presence on campus may be misleading," said Tony Listi, a CampusReform.org regional director.
He said the evaluation of the SMU's political climate was based on several factors. Liberal SMU student groups outnumber conservative groups by five to one, and 84 percent of the school's faculty and staff who donated in the 2008 presidential election gave to Democratic candidates.
"We think that political contribution data indicates a political bias on the campus of Southern Methodist University," Listi said.
Listi also said that all incoming freshmen were required to read President Barack Obama’s memoir, "Dreams From My Father."
"It seems like this is just a program of indoctrination," Listi said.
SMU declined to comment on the website's findings.
But other people on campus defended the university as a neutral place of higher learning.
"I would describe the ideological complexion at SMU as very mainstream," said political science professor Matthew Wilson, who is also the faculty adviser to the Campus Republican club.
Wilson said that strong liberal faculty opposition voiced over the Bush Library and Institute shows a diversity of opinions is present.
"There is more balance among our faculty and administration than I think you typically see in major American universities," he said. "And SMU is in that sense, sort of an odd target to focus on."
Nina Miller and her mother, Christy, were on campus attending International Student orientation Monday. The Americans currently live in Singapore and said that Nina Miller chose SMU among all schools around the world partly because it is inclusive.
"We've seen people, obviously, with our group, that are from all over the world and from all walks of life that come from every country you could think of," her mother said.
"So I don't think you could say if it's conservative or liberal -- it has every side, I think," Nina Miller said.
Dania Ortiz, an administrative assistant in the student advising office, said the staff around her includes Democrats and Republicans in equal numbers.
"We're right in the middle. We really are," she said.
Listi said CampusReform.org is recruiting members this fall to start another conservative political organization at SMU and to pressure the university to adopt a new political agenda.
"Take greater effort to achieve real diversity -- real intellectual diversity on campus to make sure that the conservative point of view is not stifled and that SMU is not purely an institution of liberal indoctrination," he said.
CampusReform.org is operated by the Leadership Institute, a conservative group recruits, trains and supports conservative activists.
According to its website, CampusReform.org helps conservative activists "revolutionize the struggle against leftist bias and abuse on college campuses."