Monday, February 18, 2008

Indoctrinate U does exist in Canada

I read an interesting post over at Fortress of Knowledge the other day. Here is a snippet:

An interesting article ( a rare one ) by Barbara Kay in today's National Post. As a former political science undergrad and grad student of Ottawa U, I can't say I fully agree with the author or the documentary that she is referring to. While the examples of " left wing " exaggerations or of closed mindedness are deplorable, they are not to be confused with a general decay of intellectual discipline. Professors and faculties have too much to lose --credibility, research funding-- to play indoctrinal games . While it is true that students and student politics on campus is usually more left of centre ( one of my professors once told us that if you aren't a communist when you are 20 you have no heart, but if you are still a communist when you are 40, you have no head ) there are usually a decent amount of fair play on campus, such as various political clubs and opportunities to express oneself about any political issues.
Finally I would caution in using american examples and transporting them to Canada since our politics is less polarized and the so-called " culture wars " in the United States is much less of an issue here in Canada

It may not appear to be an issue in Canada, because Canadians are more left-leaning than Americans. But make no mistake; this is a serious issue in Canadian universities.

Certainly not all professors are taking part in "indoctrinal games", however there is a large number that do. I went to Trent U for my undergrad and I am currently attending Carleton for grad studies. I believe what discipline you choose plays a role with the indoctrinal type of professors you may have. For example, my undergrad was in Sociology at, what I learned to be a very left-wing university. I took a class called Analysis of Social Policy. Bringing up the mere suggestions of questioning whether it was the government's responsibility to provide day care caused me to be tongue lashed by my colleagues and tsk tsked from my prof. Now a little older and wiser I can look back and laugh because this "prof" didn't have a PhD and referred to the author of one the of textbooks, Leslie Pal, as a female. Needless to say, when I did my own research looking into applying to Carleton U for grad school, I was surprised to see the President of the School of Public Policy and Administration have a picture of a man next to it. So much for TrentU being top ranking for "Quality of Education."

This is by no means an isolated incident. I have previously blogged about one wacky professor I had who managed to bring up George W. Bush in each and every class. I have one of these "special" professors this semester too, but thankfully he isn't as crazy as the last one about which I blogged. I really don't understand the professor obsession to bring GWB up in each and every single class.

My partner, also a Conservative, has had a lot more trouble than I have taking Political Science in school. A little less confident in my beliefs (still developing in my early 20s), I often bite my tongue in class which lets me enjoy friends and future letter of reference from profs. If I didn't, I may be subject to what my partner goes through, which is a reputation in the department. He had trouble with two instructors in particular. I call them instructors because, they did not have PhDs and they were just contract professors (a growing troubling part of universities). We found out later that both of these instructors shared an office and both went to York U.

He took a "Causes of War" course. Based on the description in the academic calendar, I was excited about it, and was going to sit in on a few lectures, just out of personal interest. Unfortunately, the course didn't study any wars. It was an anti-white-man-pro-feminist-war-is-only-started-by-men-and-masculinization. One assignment was a film review on "Why We Fight" which was basically a Michael Moore type film. The film opened with speeches from previous American presidents. My partner looked up each of the speeches and noticed that the "film maker" manipulated the speeches taking words out of context. Noting this in his review, he proceeded to critique the rest of the film balance the strengths and weaknesses etc... He received a C-

Again, not an isolated incident. We both have received failing grades on assignments from these types of professors.

Also at my alma mater of Trent University there was an issue with "F&ยข& Harper" Buttons. See the YouTube Video and how the Progressive Conservative club took issue with how the self-proclaimed non-partisan Trent Central Student Association was selling these buttons as a fundraiser. The youtube video is the local news station that did a piece on it. They still sell the buttons.

I have voted in NDP (I wasn't heartless at 20), I have voted Liberal (I did buy into the Harper is scary) and I have voted Conservative (for now I am happy with this party). I believe that I am fair minded enough to be able to assess, without bias, that conservatives aren't allowed a voice in Canadian universities.

For all of the above reasons please join me tonight (For those of you in Ottawa) Please go see Indoctrinate U at the National Archives/Library of Canada 395 Wellington Street 7-9pm 6$ put on by the Free Thinking Film Society


Anonymous Jessica said...

Have u try the online bookstore

I get all my textbooks for this semester from this bookstore. All are brand new textbooks and half price discount textbooks and cheap textbooks.

Good luck and wish some help.

hehe ^_^

Mon Feb 18, 11:11:00 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing your story. I never saw my university experience in the same light that you did. I really never thought of it in this way. Thanks for the different perspective.

Mon Feb 18, 11:34:00 AM EST  
Blogger DJeffery said...

It's gelastic he'd misquote Churchill. I suppose it would likely be a quantum leap for him to go from likely communism to socialism, instead of as the original liberalism to conservatism.

Mon Feb 18, 11:47:00 AM EST  
Blogger Frank Cybulski said...

I thankfully haven't noticed such blatant bias here at StFX; most of my professors can see my strong conservative beliefs, and I back them up with facts and argumentation. If you argue your case strongly, I've found, most professors will respect you even if they disagree.

There is, however, a sort of institutional bias that I think is common to almost all universities in this country - the bias of moral relativism and the progressive talking points. For instance, half of my Canadian history class is about women, Aboriginals, or Aboriginal women. While it might be important to make sure they aren't completely ignored, there's more to history than that. Other classes have witnessed similar feats of societal 'remorse' and 'penance' for our past 'sins'.

It's important to show the dominant lefty mindset on Canadian campuses that there are those of us who take issue with the blatant groupthink and indoctrination that can occur - and that we'll fight against it.

Mon Feb 18, 12:42:00 PM EST  
Blogger Justin Socie said...

This seems to be a common refrain from conservatives: the media are against you, universities are against you. I haven't seen that in the universities that I attended at all.

My profs love it when you challenge them on their viewpoints - I recently got an 'A' on a paper where I spent the whole time arguing that my prof's doctoral thesis was incorrect.

Mon Feb 18, 03:59:00 PM EST  
Blogger Jarrett said...

Good post.

For my part, I've seen both sides. I've been given crappy marks and kicked out of class for raising conservative viewpoints. Justin, I see what you're saying - it's certainly what Tories encouraged me to do, with one saying that arguing a conservative position develops your mind "beyond regurgitating the pablum your profs feed you" - but there's no credible excuse for clearly biased behaviour.

I should note, too, that I adapted many of my conservative viewpoints to fit the mold so that I just looked creative and not conservative. By comparing Maurice Duplessis to Tommy Douglas in a paper I had published, for instance, I was seen as an original thinker and not a debunker of lefty bullshit who was defending a premier widely regarded to be a fascist in leftist circles.

But still, even in my thesis defense, when I was pointing out all the good things the US did in Latin America in the early Cold War (it was actually logically connected to my point and not just a rah-rah session), a couple of my examiners blinked and asked the next logical question: "doesn't that mean you're taking an awfully pro-American viewpoint?" As though that were a huge gap in my analysis.


I'm keenly aware of the repression complex in conservatives, but dammit, as the old saying goes, "Just because I'm paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get me." I've seen too many examples of first-class work being shot down to believe it's simply, you know, a fluke or whatever.

Tue Feb 19, 05:35:00 PM EST  
Blogger Justin Socie said...

I've been given crappy marks and kicked out of class for raising conservative viewpoints.

You've been kicked out of class?!?!? Any bad marks can always be explained away - it may be that the paper was just bad. But kicked out of class?

What was the offending viewpoint?

Tue Feb 19, 08:44:00 PM EST  
Blogger Jarrett said...

1) It was not "that the paper was just bad." Not only is that a disingenuous argument, but I think I deserve a little more credit than that. And knowing the academic prowess of Spitfire, so does she. As a caveat, sometimes it's not just a conservative thing. I know a few people who took one particular political science class with a Keegstra-lite Maoist in which any paper accepting the notion that the Great Leap Forward killed people would immediately lose a big chunk of the mark.

2) The offending viewpoint for the particular instance in my head when I wrote basically involved me arguing the benefits reaped from free trade and free markets by poor countries.

There was also a similar incident in a survey course of Latin American history where I pointed out that the prof's bizarre rants were disproved by both contemporary facts and the very sources he told us to consult.

For some reason, most of that bullshit happened in second year. I had almost no luck in my draw of profs that year O_o

Tue Feb 19, 10:31:00 PM EST  
Blogger Justin Socie said...

It was not "that the paper was just bad." Not only is that a disingenuous argument, but I think I deserve a little more credit than that.

Don't be so touchy. I just meant that marks are fairly subjective and can be explained away, while kicking someone out of class because you don't like their viewpoint cannot be.

Wed Feb 20, 01:23:00 PM EST  
Blogger Nicol DuMoulin said...

"I often bite my tongue in class which lets me enjoy friends and future letter of reference from profs. If I didn't, I may be subject to what my partner goes through, which is a reputation in the department."

That is part of the problem I have in the Toronto film industry right now. My partner and I have made many good contacts over the past few years but it is getting harder and harder to get traction. Now that I have begun not being as vocal, I fear that it might be too late.

We recently were refused a reference by seemingly really good friends of ours at a studio in town. And like all never really know if that is the reason but they certainly are aware of my religion and views.

Many people talk about the 'complex' of religious and conservative people. But unless you have experienced it, it is very hard to explain. Bias rarely manifests itself with flat out bursts of name calling. Usually it is in condescenion and assumed attitudes.

Like Dennis Miller says about the entertainment industry..."You never really know why you didn't get that last job".

Great post. But I wish we lived in a world where you didn't have to write it.

Best to you and your partner.

Fri Feb 22, 01:33:00 PM EST  

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