The Corner

Politics & Policy

Activism Masquerading as College Education

Are college students affected by the preaching of their mostly “progressive” professors? We are often told to stop worrying about that because polling shows that on the whole, student beliefs are not changed much by their college experience. The problem with that approach is that some students who come into college with leftist beliefs are turned into zealots who will bedevil the country for the rest of their lives.

In today’s Martin Center article, Shannon Watkins looks into one aspect of that, namely feminist “education” that is geared not toward understanding reality but toward cranking out activists. She writes,

As it says in the National Women’s Studies Association’s Constitution, the underlying goal of women’s studies departments is that of “transform[ing] the world” to one “free of oppression.” One can argue whether that goal is overly ambitious; it is hard, however, to argue that it is not political. 

One area where this politicized agenda reveals itself in full is the euphemistically named “experiential learning” programs run by campus women’s centers (usually affiliated with women’s studies departments). Not only do women’s centers approach issues in terms of a specific ideology, they also mobilize students to put that ideology into practice.

Such programs have spread over a great many public universities, so the taxpayers have to subsidize this activism whether they favor it or not.

Much of the “learning” that goes on is so-called experiential learning, which amounts to nothing more than participating in politics. Watkins writes of one program,

While the program’s website does not explicitly state what kind of “real life” experiences Gen-X students participate in, there are some clues. In its promo video, Gen-X students are seen holding “vote now” signs and wearing Planned Parenthood stickers. Gen-X’s director, Jennifer Byrd, told her students in a class discussion “don’t tell me there isn’t a need for activism . . . thank you radical feminism! Right?”

This is how hordes of Hillaryites got their training.

Watkins concludes:

Indoctrinating students with specific ideologies and then creating corresponding programs for them to put those ideas into practice is not education — it is recruiting political actors and most certainly is not the purpose of higher education. It may be time for the state to take a really good look at its universities’ women’s programs and see which are excessively political and which — if any — serve an educational purpose.

If we can ever recapture our educational institutions and clean house, this stuff should be swept out immediately.

George Leef is the director of research for the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy.

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