The Decline of the Campus Left at Binghamton

By Daniel Milyavsky

If you looked at campus today, you’d be hard pressed to find many examples of leftist agitation and bullying. However, it used to be much worse. In the 90’s, leftist student activists here at Binghamton were relentless in their activism in favor of a “diversity requirement,” and they finally got one. But the requirement that passed ended up merely requiring students to take a class on a non-American culture, so a class on Classical Greece qualified. The leftists were deeply unhappy with this. They didn’t want students at Binghamton to have a well-rounded education – they wanted them to be indoctrinated into thinking that the only important narrative in the history of the world is the oppression by straight white males of everyone else. So, they occupied buildings and had massive protests in a bid to change the requirement so that students would be mandated to take at least one class about the theory of the “nature of oppression,” and at least one other class about the actual oppression of certain “underrepresented minorities.” The real driving force behind this ideology is the belief that both America and Western culture itself, are evil.

The irony of course, is that this obsession with racism, sexism, and homophobia is a distinctly Western phenomenon. Only in the West will you find people so obsessed with these things, and so intent and mercilessly criticizing their own cultural heritage.

This new, more totalitarian diversity requirement was defeated after it was vetoed by a vote of the faculty. While most of the newer professors were very much in favor of it, the older ones, including those who were members of the Old Left, were more skeptical. Even professors who sympathized with socialism didn’t think that students should have it drilled into their heads that white males were evil. I am, of course, proud to say that the Binghamton Review was staunchly against the new diversity requirement and fought to have it defeated.

The second story I’d like to tell concerns that of NYPIRG, or the New York Public Interest Research Group, which is a lobbying organization that advocates for a variety of liberal causes, such as banning fracking and campaign finance reform. This is all fine. We at the Review are firm believers in the First Amendment, and even if we disagree with NYPIRG’s position on issues, it has the right to advocate on behalf of them. The problem with NYPIRG had nothing to do with its political views, but rather was the way it was funded, and what it did with the money.

At its peak, NYPIRG at Binghamton was receiving about $115,000 in money from the SA every single year. This money came from student activity fees that all of us are obligated to pay each year. Most student groups have budgets that are only a couple hundred dollars. And the worst part is, NYPIRG didn’t actually use this money to conduct activism on campus. In fact, the vast majority of it was just transferred to NYPIRG Central in Albany to pay NYPIRG staffers there, which doesn’t benefit Binghamton at all.

This wasn’t a Right vs. Left issue, and our former Editor-In-Chief Adam Shamah led the effort to defund NYPIRG about five years ago. It happened gradually, but NYPIRG was eventually stripped of its entire budget, and as a result, the Student Association was able to give more money to almost every single student group that asked for a budget increase.

The final episode I have to tell was covered in our inaugural issue, in 1987. We used to have a campus pub back then, but the President of the SA decided to ban Coors Lite from the pub, because Coors had given money to the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think-tank. Needless to say, even non-political students were not happy to have lefties controlling their lives in this way. In a way, we’re in an even worse position now, since we don’t have a campus pub at all, but that’s besides the point (thanks for getting rid of it, Sodexo!).

The Review covered every single one of these events and fought for justice and fairness. We did not fight to impose our vision on the students, but rather to allow the students to make their own decisions about what classes they take, where their money goes and what beer they drink. The leftists want to control your life. The Binghamton Review has been quite successful at fighting this, here at Binghamton. Today, the activist Left is a mere remnant of what it used to be, and is pretty quiet. The Review, on the other hand, is alive and kicking.

To be honest, I kind of wish there was a lefty publication for us to fight against. Unlike a lot of other colleges, the administration here is relatively apolitical and doesn’t discriminate against conservative or libertarian groups. This is, of course, the way it should be, but I don’t want those of us on the Right to grow complacent because of this lack of Leftist provocation. Things may be fine here, but out there in the real world Leftist ideas about the expansive and all-reaching role of government are doing great harm.

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