Marquette professor tackles balancing political bias in the classroom
John McAdams has been a political science professor at Marquette University since 1977.
McAdams often criticizes the university and "politically correct" students on his personal blog, "Marquette Warrior."
He highlights the importance of challenging students' opinions in the classroom.
John McAdams, political science professor at Marquette University, maintains a niche sparking conflict. His personality is well-known even among his cordial acquaintances on campus.
On a recent day, for example, he smiled as the elevator doors open to reveal the Rev. Don Matthys in the William Wehr Physics Building at Marquette University in Milwaukee.
“God is punishing me,” said Matthys, a physics professor, rolling his eyes as McAdams, chuckle and joins him on the elevator.
“God punishes the physicists and favors the political scientists,” McAdams says.
McAdams, 67, left his graduate teaching job at Harvard University to teach full-time at Marquette in 1977. Since then, he has developed a blog, the “Marquette Warrior,”on which he criticizes the University administration and “politically correct”students alike.
“I like to be a little bit of a contrarian,” he said.
Lowell Barrington, chairman for the political science department, said McAdams has caused a lot of controversy in the university. “He has been a thorn in the side of many at Marquette and in side of the administration at Marquette,” Barrington said.
A recent example of such controversy included the Female Sexuality Workshop, also known as FemSex, which was run through the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center in Marquette. McAdams criticized on his blog as “anti-Catholic.”
McAdams inspired a few students to file more complaints against FemSex, and as a result, the University pulled support for FemSex. This igniting a wave of criticism against McAdams and the administration from FemSex members and from Marquette’s teaching faculty.
“I thought it was absurdly inappropriate for a Catholic university, and so I wanted to publicize it,” McAdams said. “You see, I have a lot of fun with silliness at Marquette.”
As a result of his blog against FemSex, McAdams has been called a misogynist, sexist and bigot. McAdams attributed these words toward his opponent’s resistance toward “real debate.”
“The fundamental problem is that politically correct people don’t see and genuine intellectual conundrums in the world,” he said. “They don’t see any complications in the world. It’s always good versus evil. It’s the evil, straight, while males who are the oppressor class and everyone else are the victims. They don’t want to hear that it’s just not that simple.”
McAdams said he sometimes fights for students on his blog who believe they had been wronged by the administration at Marquette.
“There’s a cliché that typically comes from leftists:‘Afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted’” he said. “I’m all for that, except the comfortable are often the campus bureaucrats and the afflicted are often students – and, frankly, often conservative students who don’t have the sympathy of the campus bureaucrats.”
McAdams’blog is not his only format for sparking conflict on campus, though. McAdams says his motivation to teach political science is partly rooted in challenging students’ opinions.
McAdams taught many different political courses, which cover American politics, public policy, elections and voter behavior. He also teaches a class dedicated to the assassination of President Kennedy, which he enjoys the most.
Sophie Ptaschinski, sophomore in the College of Arts & Sciences, is taking her second class with McAdams and said he is her favorite professor at the university.
“McAdams is an excellent teacher,” Ptaschinski said. “He knows topics and how to address those topics to students in a way that is relevant to their studies.”
Ptaschinski noted that when covering political issues, McAdams addresses both side, although, “it is evident which side he supports.”
She added, “It’s very important for professors to challenge students’ beliefs because it helps them think better and gives them a difference experience than what they’re used to.”
Barrington, who has engaged in political debates with McAdams, said being able to hear the other side of an issue from McAdams has been beneficial.
“Far too often today, people self-select their information sources so they don’t have to face ideas from the other side,” Barrington said.“Everyone should try to find ways that force engagement with people with different perspectives.”