The U of S is not too left-wing

By in Opinions

Apparently, free speech on campus is under attack from Marxism, feminism, postmodernist philosophy, critical theory and authoritarian political correctness, and arguments often amount to demanding a platform for simple, poorly argued and often racist, sexist and homophobic positions.

The constant braying about free speech from reactionary youths has robbed the phrase of all meaning. At the University of Saskatchewan, we don’t always see it up close, but somewhere along the way, the notion that academic institutions are all bastions of left-wing radicalism has been accepted as a truism.

The perception that the U of S is a left-wing university strikes me as absurd, but in a wider discourse that considers any school with an active gender studies or philosophy program a leftist university,  the actual character of a school is no longer a metric for its political alignment.

Speaking anecdotally, as a third-year political studies major, I’ve encountered Karl Marx approximately twice, and any further ventures into dialectical materialism have been on my own time. Aside from the obligatory unit most political studies classes include on liberal feminism, I’ve encountered almost no feminist theory. If there’s leftism afoot at the U of S, I can’t find it in this department.

It’s also not on the USask Confessions Facebook page — where students are more than happy to advance radically reactionary opinions when afforded a veil of anonymity. Recently, the moderator, for their own financial gain, has begun to monetize posts by dog-whistle racists.

I seriously urge anyone who can stomach it to spend five minutes looking into that particular abyss to get an understanding of some of the more troubling attitudes held by students here.

Of course, the political culture of the U of S as it appears in reality is of little importance for anyone trying to advance a tired misunderstanding of campus free speech. Again, this debate is not about protecting speech, it’s about entitlement to present controversial, untested and lazy arguments absent of any criticism.

Much of the exaltation of logic and facts among modern conservative pundits has amounted to little more than a smoke show for intellectual dishonesty and confirmation bias.

There can’t be a substantial history of right-wing thought, because conservatism is a constantly shifting cycle of grievance, reaction and increasingly elaborate hierarchies.

To go back more than 20 years in right-wing thought would be to rediscover the full-throated defences of apartheid and segregation voiced by the moderate conservatives of the past. Then, every 20 years or so, the right wing appears to reboot out of necessity, disparaging the racism of the past and avowing to do better.

However, none of this matters, because the current conservative cocktail of campus free speech and a rampant politically correct attitude in Saskatchewan have proven to be extremely effective at mobilizing disaffected youths.

The U of S has almost no campus leftism to speak of, but when has logic ever gotten in the way of conservative hysteria? What is needed is not a further reaction from campus leftists, but a better narrative and stronger organization.

Cole Chretien

Graphic: Lesia Karalash / Graphics Editor

  • Shalom

    “The U of S has almost no campus leftism to speak of, but when has logic ever gotten in the way of conservative hysteria? What is needed is not a further reaction from campus leftists, but a better narrative and stronger organization.”

    Gotta be one of the most hypocritical statements I have ever read. Coming from a “centralist” person.

  • Nicholas Simonson

    “…a rampant Progressive Conservative Party in Saskatchewan…”
    I assume you are not talking about the Progressive Conservative Party of Saskatchewan which received 0.33% of the vote in the last election. I think you are referring to the Conservative Party of Canada which does have a considerable presence in Saskatchewan.
    The fact that this mistake was made twice in the same issue of the Sheaf (see “MP Trost facing two challengers in upcoming nomination race”) suggests to me that some of the writers and editors do not know basic facts about the conservative movement in Canada. The only reason I can see as plausible for this is that some of the writers and editors at the Sheaf live in such a left wing bubble that misnaming a major conservative party goes by unnoticed. I think that is too left wing.

    • HansIsCool

      Knowing a number of Sheaf writers and editors, I sincerely doubt that they cannot differentiate between the Conservative Party and the PCs. Having said that, it is a strange oversight for that mistake to happen TWO times in one article.

    • TheSheaf

      Nicholas Simonson, thank you for pointing out the error in this article. Because of a miscommunication between our writer and editors, the article included “Progressive Conservative Party” when the phrase should have been “politically correct attitude.” A specific political party was in no way intended to be the subject of the sentence you mentioned. We have now corrected the online article and we have updated the article on MP Trost. We will also be publishing a printed correction in the next issue of the Sheaf. We apologize for these errors. If you notice any errors in our articles in future, please submit them through our online corrections form: http://thesheaf.com/corrections/

  • HansIsCool

    Good article. “Again, this debate is not about protecting speech, it’s about entitlement to present controversial, untested and lazy arguments absent of any criticism” nails it on the head. Nearly all of the supposed stifling of free speech that I’ve come across is from conservatives who apparently cannot handle being criticized; not attacked, either, but merely confronted. This applies to U of S classrooms, as well, where conservative sentiments may be challenged by either the prof or other students (as it should be, regardless of where it falls on the political spectrum), but not suppressed.
    And yes, USask Confessions will certainly help refute any notion that the U of S is too left-wing. That page is a bastion of ignorant bullshit.

    • Guest

      Ironically, that sentence (as with the rest of the article) demonstrates that U of S evidently isn’t doing a good job teaching students critical thinking or the value of ideological diversity. Nobody is against conservative ideas being criticized or debated. It is a problem, however, when a mob of overgrown toddlers (or, much more often, one or two overgrown toddlers claiming to be offended or triggered) uses the heckler’s veto to shut down a speaker or event that they disagree with. We saw that this fall at Laurier University, when a graduate student was threatened and humiliated by her professors because she showed footage her class footage from a debate about made-up gender pronouns. Or when a students’ union imposes unconstitutional and discriminatory restrictions on associations made up of paying students because they don’t conform to their leftist orthodoxy. In this regard the U of S isn’t that bad (compared to its peers), though they still subject the pro-life club to inappropriate censorship and viewpoint discrimination.

      http://campusfreedomindex.ca/campus/university-of-saskatchewan/

      It’s laughable that anyone would think an anonymous Facebook page is evidence that the U of S doesn’t have an institutional left-wing bias (the author also fails to identify any racist, sexist, or homophobic content on said page). It’s about on par with equating “right-wing thought” with racism and apartheid.

    • HansIsCool

      Can you identify any times that the “heckler’s veto” was used at the U of S? Or, besides a temporary denial to a pro-life club 9 years ago, any restrictions on student groups? I wouldn’t want to see that happening here, and as far I know, it hasn’t. So, where is the institutional bias? Is it your link’s reference to a gender-neutral language policy?? Maybe you can point me in the right direction, but the “overgrown toddlers” that you refer to don’t seem to be an issue here.
      You’re right, USask Confessions doesn’t reflect on institutional biases. But, aside from official policy, this argument must take campus culture more generally into consideration, and I think that page is an (obviously imperfect) indicator of that.

    • Guest

      I was referring to the general issue of free speech on Canadian university campuses. I’m not saying it’s necessarily a problem at the U of S in particular.