Extreme Politics Infiltrating U.S. Academia

By: Daniel Nardini

One friend that I know, who never went to university or college, told me that all our leading colleges and universities are now becoming “red.” Meaning they are becoming breeding grounds for socialism. He watches Fox News TV and thinks that because of all the battles and all the demonstrations and counter-protests in certain parts of the country, the average American student is going Communist. During the summer there were running battles between Antifa (anti-fascist) and right wing and conservative students and activists in California. However, this is more of the exception than the rule. The fact of the matter is that while there are clashes between students who may be politically left, and those who are conservative or politically right, most students have little to no interest in such extreme politics or in politics at all.

Two places where I graduated from, Beloit College and Western Illinois University, are by no means hotbeds of radicalism. The students in these two academic institutions remain by and large places where students pursue their academic degrees and do not want to get sidetracked with the political fights of the day. This does not mean that politics does not enter into the equation at all. Even at Beloit College, there have been courses introduced about white supremacy, fascism and racism. This whole thing, called #GetWoke lecture series, is definitely leftist and in my view questionable in terms of academic content. At Western Illinois University, there have been articles about those alumni who had taken part in the protests in the Vietnam War era (1964-1973), and of those students who had supported the Vietnam War. In many ways, all of this is reflective of some of the extreme politics that have affected the rest of society and it all seems unavoidable.

I guess that our colleges and universities are not citadels cut off from the reality of the political and social divisions within American society today. They are not as involved as one would think, but they are not as above the political fray of today’s America. There have been no actual battles fought on these or for the most part any other university and college campuses in Illinois or Wisconsin; unlike in, say, California or many universities in the eastern and southern states. This of course does not mean that there have been no extreme political influence on any of the Illinois or Wisconsin academic campuses. Because of this, the board of trustees of the University of Wisconsin system has instituted a policy whereby any student who causes physical disruption or issues threats against university or guest speakers because of their politics or subject issues will be expelled. This makes sense considering how students in many other academic institutions in various parts of the country are using speech intolerance to shut down the free exchange of ideas on campus. While students normally go about their business trying to learn and eventually graduate, it is becoming obvious that the extreme ideas and politics of the day cannot be entirely kept out of our American academic institutions.

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