'Indoctrine U' raises brows, offers insight
Politics on Wheels
Published: Monday, April 14, 2008
Updated: Thursday, March 3, 2011 17:03
On Tuesday, April 2, the ETSU Society for Intellectual Diversity (SID) held a showing of the Evan Coyne Maloney film "Indoctrinate U." Held in the Brown Hall auditorium, the event attracted the attendance of students and faculty from a variety of departments and political persuasions.
The event was co-sponsored by the College Republicans and the Department of Sociology and Anthropology.
I decided to go to this event because I feel that, despite its decidedly conservative political undertones, the movement to ensure the rights of students and faculty at universities is an important one.
And after the show that David Horowitz, a prominent conservative advocate, put on last spring, I knew that an event hosted by SID would be thought-provoking if nothing else.
Chris Strode, the president of SID, gave a brief introduction detailing the organization's goals.
With obvious sincerity, he made it very clear that the purpose of the organization is to get the word out to students of their right to learn in an educational institution which is free of indoctrination to a certain ideology. I thought to myself, "That's something I can support. Maybe this movie will be better than I am expecting."
And in a way, it was. "Indoctrinate U" also served as commentary on the state of intellectual freedom on college campuses through the utilization of anecdotal evidence and "guerilla journalism."
"Indoctrinate U" told a few disturbing stories about the treatment of conservative students at universities such as Duke, Berkeley and the University of Tennessee.
The film was able to make me feel sorry for these students. It brought up an issue which needs to be talked about: is the liberal majority in our country's colleges and universities abusing its power, and if so, to what degree?
Unfortunately, that's where the effectiveness of the movie ended.
The film's basic premise is that both students and faculty at universities across the country are being discriminated against due to their political beliefs. The political beliefs in the film, however, were all conservative.
Due to the existence of a large majority of political liberals in universities, Maloney argues that politically liberal ideas have formed a monopoly covering the intellectual ideals propagated in higher education.
First of all, let me get this out in the open: I am a liberal. But I'm a liberal who dislikes Michael Moore movies - a lot.
I believe that dirty reporting is dirty reporting, regardless of which side it's from.
It seems to me as though Maloney took a page right out of Michael Moore's Book of Propaganda when he made "Indoctrinate U," complete with guerilla reporting and sarcastic narration.
It spent a good deal of time arguing for actual conservative political stances. By using so much of its time arguing against affirmative action and student-led protests on army recruitment, "Indoctrinate U" failed in its attempt at a statement on academic justice.
For instance: a girl is harassed by fellow students and a professor because she writes a letter to the editor against affirmative action. Fair enough, right? No one should be bullied out of their beliefs.
Maloney takes it a step further, however, and spends about 20 minutes assisting the girl in arguing against this political stance with expert usage of video footage and professorial comments.
I could make the argument that many conservatives make to those who "victimize" themselves.
Something to the tune of: "This is the American economy. Sometimes you have to give up a little bit of your culture and your dignity to please The Man. If you want to get ahead, you have to learn to fit in; if you're being oppressed, it's probably your own fault."
Sound familiar? But I don't think that's true. I really do think that being discriminated against for your beliefs, or for any reason, is reprehensible.
I think it's important for students and faculty to join up in a movement to prevent this discrimination from either side.
I don't, however, think that "Indoctrinate U" stood up to its own goals.
The result of the movie to anyone who didn't walk in wanting to demonize liberals could only be alienation from a true fight against discrimination.
The event itself ended on a positive note with some refreshingly insightful discussion between students and faculty, and in that sense the movie was a resounding success.
The ETSU Society for Intellectual Diversity draws from a small pool of material from this movement, and they did a wonderful job of prefacing and ending the event with their own views on intellectual diversity. Strode commented later in an interview, "SID is not a conservative organization, nor do we seek any type of partisan position or privileged view of the world in which we live."
Perhaps when students and faculty who hold differing political views get involved with the protection of students' rights, some truly unbiased commentary on the problem will surface. Until that day, I look forward to enjoying more controversial events from the Society for Intellectual Diversity.