A Republican’s Practical Guide to College

 

image“My boy, we are pilgrims in an unholy land.” — Dr. Henry Jones Sr., on watching a Nazi book burning in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

I am a recent college graduate and a young Republican. The happiest moment in my short political life so far has been receiving a piece of paper, freeing me from the encroaching liberal bonfire of the modern college campus. What I’ve learned from my time in academia is probably not the most conventional lesson, but it is the most practical: don’t be an activist; just get through it. Accept that college and university is not a friendly place to express counter-cultural views, focus on strengthening your conservative beliefs, and get that diploma.

What got me through college was keeping my ideological head down and a healthy dose of underhanded sarcasm. Let me be perfectly honest: no one likes the campus activist — be he from the right or the left — or the kid who argues with the professor. Seriously. Just keep your mouth shut and parrot back whatever he/she/xhe wants to hear. Although it may be romantic to stand up for one’s beliefs in the middle of the lecture and tell-off that smug liberal professor, please don’t. It’s not a good look and, more importantly, the guy you’re laying into also grades your papers.

Yes, it stinks to be bombarded day-after-day by post modernism, cultural and moral relativism, the evils of colonialism, and the beauty of the collective state. And, yes, — from personal experience — the absolute worst classes are the ones with “that kid:” the suck-up, patronizing liberal who is so in-tune with the “plight of whatever” that he/she must enlighten the class. Don’t engage with “that kid;” you’ll lose every time because the guy making the rules is playing for the other side.

My advice: don’t choose, play along, and listen to what others have to say. First, you’ll hear the same lines over-and-over in your professional life, so it’s good to be acquainted with them early. Second, your mind will begin to poke holes in progressive logic, see its false assertions for what they are, and judge it on the merits.

So, how do you foster conservatism in college?

Like other Americans, most college students just want to be left alone. One of the many fundamental differences between the Right and the Left is our ability to divorce ourselves from politics as a whole; the personal is not the political for us. Be a conservative by living your life away from the constantly politically correct and the perpetually socially wronged. Read the right books and listen to the right people. Join a conservative campus organization, but don’t expect to change campus, let alone the world.

The greatest rebellion you can have in college is not giving in to what college wants you to be: an offended child.

Published in Education
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  1. PHCheese Inactive
    PHCheese
    @PHCheese

    I couldn’t wait to get out of college and I went to a conservative school at the time.

    • #1
  2. Randy Webster Member
    Randy Webster
    @RandyWebster

    I’ve thought about going back to school just to be the fly in the ointment. I’m 64 with 2 degrees.  What can they do to me?

    • #2
  3. TKC1101 Inactive
    TKC1101
    @TKC1101

    Congratulations on getting out across the wire.

    One question: Why did you choose such a place? Was there no alternative which suited your goals and was more oriented to actual learning than social justice?

    • #3
  4. Michael Blume Inactive
    Michael Blume
    @michaelblume2

    TKC1101:Congratulations on getting out across the wire.

    One question: Why did you choose such a place? Was there no alternative which suited your goals and was more oriented to actual learning than social justice

    My school wasn’t particularly bad. I honestly can’t say that it was more liberal than an average university. Then again, the average university is pretty liberal.

    I don’t have any regrets. I received an education that sparked me to be more of a conservative and look into these issues personally. I can’t complain about that.

    Besides, its great knowing both sides of the argument.

    • #4
  5. Brian Wyneken Member
    Brian Wyneken
    @BrianWyneken

    Michael – welcome to Ricochet and thank you for the post. You offered this as a “practical guide” and that it is. I banged heads a bit back in law school 25 years ago, but was a little better equipped with some foundation $$$ behind my mischief. I think you’re correct about the merits of battling the professor. The only way you’ll “win” in the classroom is when a sympathetic instrutor actually shows some courage. That’s very rare.

    • #5
  6. Kay of MT Inactive
    Kay of MT
    @KayofMT

    Welcome Michael, and a great first post. I batted heads with a couple of professors back in the early ’70s and expected to get dinged for it, but they actually graded me fairly. One was an English professor who was hung up on Joan Didian, of whom I had no respect as an author. After being hammered with her “Run River” for a semester, I haven’t read another word she has written since.

    • #6
  7. Metalheaddoc Member
    Metalheaddoc
    @Metalheaddoc

    Ironic thing is that if there was a book burning on campus, it would be by the Left. I have always fantasized that some sly College Republican would organize a book burning and invite all the lefties to stomp around a bonfire like savages (microaggression!) and throw in Rush and Levin and Coulter books and video the whole thing.

    • #7
  8. Dan Hanson Thatcher
    Dan Hanson
    @DanHanson

    The other thing you can do is play the system.  Being cynical and understanding the biases of your professors can get you extra grades if you’re willing to do it.

    I remember having to write an english exam on a book I hadn’t read,  and rather than give up and accept my fate,  I wrote a screed on the lack of rights of women in the era of the book – knowing that my Prof was a hard-core social justice ‘war on women’ type.   I hoped to salvage something and maybe squeak through a pass on the essay – instead I got an A+ and a glowing comment on my profound insights – of a book that I never read.

    Or as the Harvard Lampoon put it in ‘Deteriorata’:  Know what to kiss,  and when.

    • #8
  9. Basil Fawlty Member
    Basil Fawlty
    @BasilFawlty

    Randy Webster:I’ve thought about going back to school just to be the fly in the ointment. I’m 64 with 2 degrees. What can they do to me?

    Well, as long as you’re not Bill Cosby . . .

    • #9
  10. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    I was one of those kids who enjoyed taking on everyone. My grades suffered as a result, but it was completely worth it.

    I was one of two males in a seminar with Deborah Tannen. She once started a lecture as follows: “Men oppress women in every society. Let us look at how they use language to do it.”

    Where to start? Oh, let’s see…

    “Professor?”

    “Yes?”

    “Who is doing most of the talking in this class?”

    • #10
  11. Western Yankee Member
    Western Yankee
    @WesternYankee

    While you don’t want to be a jerk, you shouldn’t be silent either.  Ask lots of questions.  The path of least resistance will get you a degree, but not the kind of intellectual development that will allow you to thrive in a global environment that doesn’t play by liberal rules.

    • #11
  12. Kay of MT Inactive
    Kay of MT
    @KayofMT

    Dan Hanson: Or as the Harvard Lampoon put it in ‘Deteriorata’: Know what to kiss, and when.

    Right, the rear you kick going up the ladder, may be the one you have to kiss coming down.

    • #12
  13. Kay of MT Inactive
    Kay of MT
    @KayofMT

    Dan Hanson: I hoped to salvage something and maybe squeak through a pass on the essay

    I did something similar with the Joan Didion book.  Instead of writing a glowing review of the book, I wrote an essay on why I thought the premises of her story was illogical.

    • #13
  14. Johnny Dubya Inactive
    Johnny Dubya
    @JohnnyDubya

    Well-argued, but I don’t agree.

    First of all, progressives claim to value diversity, and what is the most important type of diversity in an educational institution?  Intellectual diversity.  Therefore, they deserve to get it – good and hard.

    If conservatives attend universities without ever expressing their conservative viewpoint, if they just go along to get along, then conservatives essentially do not exist in the academy.  It strikes me as uncomfortably similar to a certain view on how a nation ought to conduct itself in the face of terrorism: If we just keep our heads down and don’t bother them, maybe they’ll leave us alone.

    There needs to be vigorous push-back against progressive principles – particularly in the universities.  However, I think the key is to approach the task as a happy warrior, in the mold of Jonah Goldberg, rather than in the strident-warrior mold of Ann Coulter.

    All that said, I am sympathetic to those who do just keep their heads down and do the work, and I don’t mean to disparage Michael for his approach to surviving his college years.

    • #14
  15. barbara lydick Inactive
    barbara lydick
    @barbaralydick

    Randy Webster: I’ve thought about going back to school just to be the fly in the ointment. I’m 64 with 2 degrees. What can they do to me?

    Oh boy, have I had some daydreams about that. The point is, Randy, that at our age (I’ve got you by a few years) and our life experiences – you with your law, construction/business, and literature skills, me with a few of my own – we could actually have some fun in one of those classes. We’ve learned over the years not to show so much intensity for our positions but rather to use an approach that persuades – to bring others to our side. Even the kids in the class just might have some fun.

    • #15
  16. WillowSpring Member
    WillowSpring
    @WillowSpring

    So glad my majors were Physics, Engineering and Computer Science. At least back then, those were hard to politicize.

    What was your major?

    • #16
  17. Liz Member
    Liz
    @Liz

    My advice to any young conservative is: don’t choose your courses based on what you want to study but on the teacher. Search out the great teachers. They will foster an intellectually open environment and will attract the best students.

    I went to school convinced I would be an English major. However, I learned after one semester that I loathed the faculty and the students (not one of whom could get through a discussion section without mentioning his “feelings”), and quickly switched to Classics with a lot of Poli Sci on the side. This is where the outstanding professors were, and I have never regretted it.

    H/t: my mom and dad, who always advocated this idea.

    • #17
  18. Dan Hanson Thatcher
    Dan Hanson
    @DanHanson

    I totally agree,  and that’s the advice I gave my son who is going to college this year.  Do your diligence,  find the professors worth listening to, and take classes from them.  Fortunately,  in the internet era this is much easier to do than it used to be.

    Universities have lots of bad professors.  And it doesn’t even have to be a political issue.  I remember one prof I had who had written a book and based the class on his book, and woe to any student who dared to contradict anything he had written (and there was much worth contradicting…)

    I had a physics professor who was agoraphobic,  and when he was assigned to lecture in a big lecture hall,  he turned his back to us and lectured to a corner of the room.  You couldn’t understand him and he couldn’t engage with the class.  It was a disaster.  A math prof  would simply ‘lecture’ by taking pages from the textbook, place them on the overhead projector,  then read them verbatim and leave when he hit his quota.  No questions allowed,  no extra explanation,  nothing.   I suspect he was doing that as a passive-aggressive response to being forced to teach a class he didn’t want to teach.

    A great professor is worth his or her weight in gold.  Seek them out and learn from them.

    • #18
  19. ToryWarWriter Reagan
    ToryWarWriter
    @ToryWarWriter

    Both my parents are profs, and I grew up around a lot of them. They say don’t give any first year courses a hard time.  Once you get past the maze of the first year, the second to 4th year profs are where your likely to see intellectual rigor. First year is really to difficult for anyone.

    That being said I have friends who went to school in the 70s and they have great stories of the Campus Conservatives given the good fight against the student union.  The Union was required to give out a refund at the end of the year for anyone who wanted it. They never did because no one ever asked till the Campus Torys did. The amount of the refund was the same as a case of beer.  So my friends naturaly used their refund money to print off flyers and left them in every dorm so that any kid would go down to the Student Union and demand there ‘free case of beer’.

    • #19
  20. barbara lydick Inactive
    barbara lydick
    @barbaralydick

    Dan Hanson: A math prof would simply ‘lecture’ by taking pages from the textbook, place them on the overhead projector, then read them verbatim and leave when he hit his quota. No questions allowed, no extra explanation, nothing.

    There were more of this type out there. Had a calculus assistant (grad student) who was responsible for supplementing the main lectures 2x/week. Facing the board, with an eraser in his left hand and chalk in his right, he would speak (with a very heavy Asian accent) and write – and erase as he moved along. A few of us figured a way around this. We divided the board into thirds, each of us writing everything down in ‘our third.’ Later we would get together to paste the thirds together. It did work for us. Also, I’m not certain what his nationality was – never saw his face.

    • #20
  21. EThompson Inactive
    EThompson
    @EThompson

    You are wise beyond your years. I’m impressed.

    Make your first couple million and then feel free to spout off freely.

    • #21
  22. Randy Webster Member
    Randy Webster
    @RandyWebster

    EThompson: Make your first couple million and then feel free to spout off freely

    Is that a pre-requisite?  Dang, I’ll have to learn to keep my mouth shut.

    • #22
  23. EThompson Inactive
    EThompson
    @EThompson

    Randy Webster:

    EThompson: Make your first couple million and then feel free to spout off freely

    Is that a pre-requisite? Dang, I’ll have to learn to keep my mouth shut.

    Keep working on it. I have faith; you do have excellent taste in music.

    • #23
  24. barbara lydick Inactive
    barbara lydick
    @barbaralydick

    WillowSpring: So glad my majors were Physics, Engineering and Computer Science. At least back then, those were hard to politicize.

    Well, given some time, the feminists found a way.  As I had commented in another post awhile back, some of them went so far as to proclaim logic and rationality to be antithetical to a woman’s way of thinking and that therefore the tools of logic and science had to be replaced with the far superior female instruments: focus on feelings and anecdotal evidence. This way of ‘thinking’ led mathematics professor Dr. Margarita Levin to dryly remark, “One still wants to know if feminists’ airplanes would stay airborne for feminists’ engineers.”

    • #24
  25. J. D. Fitzpatrick Member
    J. D. Fitzpatrick
    @JDFitzpatrick

    On not wanting to rock the boat: bear in mind that unless you are headed for grad school, your grades are unlikely to matter–unless you somehow fail classes, which is hard to do nowadays.

    And even if you are headed for grad school, the only classes in which politicized profs can hurt your grades are in the humanities and social sciences.

    And if you are headed for grad school in the humanities or social sciences nowadays, and you don’t like politicized environments–well, you have some suffering ahead of you, all well-deserved.

    • #25
  26. Melissa O'Sullivan Member
    Melissa O'Sullivan
    @melissaosullivan

    Just sent to my nephew, who heads off Fall of 2016!  Great post!  Thank you!

    • #26
  27. RightAngles Member
    RightAngles
    @RightAngles

    At my university, they demonstrated to kick the ROTC off campus, and I had a prof who was a member of the Communist Party.  Also, a teacher in my major told me I could have an A if I slept with him every Wednesday (were all the other days filled?!). And in other news, this week, Avi Horowitz stood outside at Yale collecting signatures on a petition to repeal the First Amendment to the Constituion:

    -Freedom of speech

    -Freedom of the press

    -Freedom of assembly

    -Freedom of religion

    -Freedom of association

    -a-a-a-nd Freedom to petition.

    He collected over 50 signatures in less than an hour. You could hear students on the video saying, “I totally agree with what you’re doing” and “I’m so glad you’re out here” and worse. Congratulations, Ivy League.

    • #27
  28. RyanFalcone Member
    RyanFalcone
    @RyanFalcone

    Meh. This is why conservatives will lose. By and large there are too many folks willing to just go along and be comfortable…that is, until they can’t be comfortable anymore but by then it’s too late.

    Nobody likes the activist. Yeah, then how did our culture turn into what was once activist?

    Not everyone is meant to fight for truth and justice and not everyone has the heart for it. You sat silently and survived for no one’s benefit but your own. Congrats. But don’t encourage those who would be that voice calling out the lies and deception to be silent because a little conflict in your life negatively impacts your comfort.

    I was brainwashed into the stupidity of progressive, Marxist enlightenment during my orientation weekend. By the grace of God, I grew out of it and by the end of my Junior year I was angry about it and became a budding conservative. I was however, too cowardly to speak up in my classes, to my eternal shame.

    For those of you sending kids into enemy territory, burn this post. Teach them instead to know what they believe and why they believe it. Fight for truth because its existence is the only thing that separates us from the savages.

    • #28
  29. Pony Convertible Inactive
    Pony Convertible
    @PonyConvertible

    WillowSpring:So glad my majors were Physics, Engineering and Computer Science.At least back then, those were hard to politicize.

    What was your major?

    I have had three son’s study engineering recently.  Believe me, it is politicalize.  Has to be since the school receives Federal funding.

    • #29
  30. Pony Convertible Inactive
    Pony Convertible
    @PonyConvertible

    J. D. Fitzpatrick:On not wanting to rock the boat: bear in mind that unless you are headed for grad school, your grades are unlikely to matter–unless you somehow fail classes, which is hard to do nowadays.

    Not necessarily true.  In Purdue Engineering at least a third of the Freshman will not graduate.

    • #30
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