Political activity at CWRU

On my way across the campus earlier today for a meeting, I saw that a big (roughly 4ft x 16ft) yellow board had been set up in front of the library asking people to write what they thought about a US war with Syria. There were a mix of comments, with those opposed slightly outnumbering those who were either ambivalent or in favor of direct US intervention. I noticed that the board had been put up by the student group Young Americans for Liberty (YAL), a libertarian counterweight to the more establishment conservative Republican Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) which seems to be dormant. (Warning: Audio may begin upon clicking. I hate it when they do that.)

What was interesting to me was that such a board had been set up at all. My university is not known as being particularly politically active, with the student body being quite focused on academics. Old-timers who were here during the Vietnam war say that the campus was largely immune from the protests that roiled so many campuses across the nation. One of the most famous ones (Kent State) is just a short distance away but we saw nothing like what happened there. Even as recently as 2003 in the run-up to the Iraq war, the faculty held teach-ins against the war (that I too spoke at) but there were no serious student protest movements. Berkeley, we are not.

This may be partly due to the fact that our university used to have a very strong science and engineering ethos with the arts and humanities being largely seen as stepchildren. But that has been changing over the past decade and we now have a much more diverse and, in my opinion, livelier student body and campus life. The growth of the arts and humanities has definitely made the campus a more interesting place.


  1. Reginald Selkirk says

    Berkeley, we are not.

    Yes, but also Syria 2013 is not Vietnam 1967, nor even Iraq 2003. Probably it would more closely resemble Libya 2011.

  2. colnago80 says

    Comparisons with Vietnam are spurious. There was a big difference in the 1960s, namely the military Selective Service, better known as the draft. Today, there is no draft so young people have less incentive to oppose military actions. As former heavyweight champion Mohammed Ali put it, “I don’t got nothing against no Vietcong”.

  3. Mano Singham says

    The comparison I was drawing was between the seeming apathy on our campus compared with others at the same time, not between those times and now.

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