Monday, August 23, 2004
( 11:02 AM )
Taking Back the Campus
Joshua Holland, editor-in-chief of the USC Trojan Horse, has an article in Guerilla News Network this week about the shift in campus activism and how the right wing organization, backed by big money, has infiltrated almost every campus. He offers some real insight into the workings of right wing campus activism and what is wrong with the progressive students' activism and what they need to do to make it work. I think this issue is especially important this fall as the election season will have a huge impact on campus activities. The fact that young people just aren't voting in the numbers they should be is the most worrisome aspect of campus activism's failure to meet the right wing backlash.
The young conservative's conspiratorial view of liberalism will last a lifetime. That's why progressive leaders have a choice to make: they can continue to leave it to earnest but poorly-networked students to fight it out with a shoe-string budget against a well-lubricated political machine, or they can get in the game and start pushing back.
That means taking a page from the conservative playbook and giving young liberal activists the tools they need to be more effective. Right now, only the College Democrats and a few single-issue groups are doing anything at all on a nationwide basis. The campus Left needs a network that links activists at different schools, and their publications and speaker programs need financial support. Above all, the Left needs a national organization with the training, scholarships, media savvy and "leadership conferences" that the Right has used so effectively.
Only now, more than thirty years after conservatives began planning and organizing for the long haul, are progressives attempting to do the same thing. But unless they bring that long-term vision to the campus wars, the next generation of conservatives will be even more dogmatic and uncompromising than the ones in power today, and they will have won plenty of converts along the way. That should come as a troubling thought to liberals of every generation.
That's a call to arms if I ever heard one.