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Department of Political Science

College of Social Sciences and Public Policy

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Jessica Parsons

Degree Program:


Areas of Interest:

American Politics, Public Policy, Public Opinion and Political Behavior, Elite Behavior, State Politics, Political Representation of Disadvantaged Groups, and Inequality.

Research Activites:

My dissertation research focuses on the timely issue of political bias in America’s universities. I conduct three field experiments to examine whether university administrators are biased against conservative students and in favor of liberal students. Utilizing large-N experimental designs, I randomly assign university administrators to receive a request from a politically liberal student, a politically conservative student, or a student whose ideology is unspecified, requesting help with either forming a new political student organization, securing campus space for a guest speaker to lecture on political issues, or publishing a political editorial in the student newspaper. By comparing the rates of response across experimental conditions, I will provide high-quality evidence on the hypothesis, widely espoused in popular media, that conservative students face systematic discrimination in higher education. The results of the first experiment show no statistically significant difference in the responsiveness of university administrators to requests about establishing a new political student organization for liberal and conservative students. It thus appears that, with respect to starting new political student groups, the alleged bias against conservative students in higher education may be more myth than reality. These findings will contribute not only to my subfield and to the discipline, but to a long-standing, vigorous, and spirited national conversation.