Langley: Leftist Student Organizations Need Better Organization


Madelyn Foulger

(Graphic by Madelyn Foulger | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Jeffrey Langley Jr., Opinion Editor


The University of Utah houses over 600 clubs and student organizations that range in focus from community service and advocacy to plain fun.

However, with groups like Turning Point USA entering the scene, bigotry and right-wing extremism grow within this campus. Accepting these things as appropriate, especially in a red state, opens the door to discomfort for minority groups and circulates misinformation. The administration lacks insight into the effects groups like these can have. Furthermore, their flippant approach to administration allows other injustices to occur. Despite this evident inability to perform, leftist student organizations do little to rally students and advocate change. In the leftist tradition, it is the duty of these organizations to fight injustice wherever it may appear. Doing nothing sets a terrible example.

Left-wing student organizations at the U must organize themselves to promote real political change and make a difference. By leaving TPUSA and groups akin to them unopposed, we give them the power to be the de facto majority. Otherwise, more problems may arise in the future.

Who Currently Voices Their Opinions on Campus

Right-wing organizations have nested themselves here in the U. TPUSA, for example, is an up-and-coming organization on campus, but it has an infamous history.

As pointed out recently by fellow Chronicle Opinion Writer Elle Cowley, TPUSA has promoted vile and unfounded ideas since its inception in 2012. Many know Charlie Kirk, the founder of TPUSA, to be a peddler of conspiracy theories and racially inflammatory comments. He also denies climate change, a widely accepted scientific phenomenon. While most, including myself, cannot imagine why anyone would agree with, let alone join, an organization led by this man, some lack a grounded worldview.

Another right-wing group on campus is The Federalist Society. While claiming the aim of maximizing individual liberty, this group supports such things as the overturning of Roe v. Wade, transphobia, racism and the platforming of white supremacists.

With this sort of activity happening on campus, it shocks me to see so little action from leftist or moderate student organizations. We cannot make room for racism, and students must start advocating against these groups. Otherwise, how will we safeguard our more progressive ideals and even the lives of our minority students?

Leftists in Utah are Already Under-Represented

Outside of campus, being progressive in Utah can have its difficulties. Utah is a deeply red state and has been for decades.

Because of Republican dominance in Utah, congressional voting districts have gotten blatantly gerrymandered. This splits Salt Lake City, the most liberal area of Utah, into four districts. In simple terms, it is extraordinarily difficult for Democrats to compete in Utah regardless of how much support they receive.

As college students, who are statistically more liberal than most groups, we must recognize this disenfranchisement. It can feel defeating to be in our position, but we can only achieve future victory through solidarity. These right-wing groups on campus are not the grassroots advocates they claim to be. They are instead agents of those who already oppress us.

An Interview with Ermiya Fanaeian

Ermiya Fanaeian, an organizer with the Party of Socialism and Liberation and the Armed Queers of Salt Lake City, was quick to speak out against the right-wing activity here on campus. “Their goal is to ensure that younger people, specifically college students, move to the right and see an alternative to leftist movements and leftist causes,” Fanaeian expressed. However, she invalidates their efforts by explaining how “[right-wing politics] is not what younger people, college students and certainly not people on a national level are wanting.”

Despite this conflict of interests, Fanaeian spoke to how our administration caters to these groups. She said, “The University of Utah as an institution has very much favored right-wing organizations over leftist ones. We’ve seen this with the way the police handles things. We see this with the way that administration handles things.” Because of this, “At the University of Utah campus, we can definitely do more. I think that there, in fact, needs to be more established and developed efforts against right-wing forces.” Fanaeian reasoned that outside of campus, “activism has been at its all-time high,” as was seen in the multitude of protests over the last two years.

She recommends students get involved by “organizing protests, organizing demonstrations, holding forums, educating people in our local communities as much as we can.” And, of course, by “engaging in revolutionary parties [and] revolutionary organizations.” While some may feel anxious or hopeless about our situation, Fanaeian said that “Right now is not the time to agonize. Right now is the time to really organize and build a collective movement that’s going to ensure people power and that requires a revolutionary optimism.”

In this turbulent era of growing oppression, there is little time to do what we should have done long ago. Students and their organizations must take up the responsibility to fight against the growing illness of right-wing extremism and bigotry here on campus. The current administration is not willing or able to clean the mess they’ve made, but we have the tools to do so. Our cause will lead us to victory, and there is a world to win.


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