The International Youth and Students for Social Equality (IYSSE) defends the rights of students to form political associations of their choosing on campuses. The access of students to a broad range of political views is a basic democratic right that must be defended.
The Loyola Socialists, a student section of the International Socialist Organization (ISO) at Loyola University Chicago, is being blocked from forming a club on spurious and anti-democratic grounds. According to university’s administration, its “Registered Student Organization (RSO) Review Board felt” the “organization was duplicative of another RSO. Additionally, there was concern about the potential influence of the external organization.”
According to the ISO, two other student groups at Loyola, Students for Worker Justice and Students for Reproductive Justice, are also being blocked from forming groups on similar grounds.
The IYSSE condemns the actions by Loyola administration and calls for the immediate reversal of their decision to bar the ISO and other groups.
The IYSSE is no stranger to political censorship. On several occasions, we have been barred from forming clubs on campuses in the United States and internationally. We have also come under attack by right-wing professors. In 2010, the International Students for Social Equality (ISSE), predecessor group of the IYSSE, was blocked from forming a group at Loyola University Chicago on the same grounds that are now being used to bar the Loyola Socialists.
In New York City, the IYSSE at New York University (NYU) is demanding the NYU Student Activities Board (SAB) reverse its decision to deny the IYSSE official club status. In October 2016, the SAB denied the IYSSE club status, claiming that it was “too similar” to other organizations on campus, specifically the ISO.
In 2014, the University of Melbourne in Australia rejected the IYSSE’s club application on the grounds it had “overlapping aims” with Socialist Alternative (SAlt). After two and a half years of political struggle, the IYSSE won club status in November of last year.
On February 8, Jörg Baberowski, a right-wing professor at Humboldt University in Germany, slandered the IYSSE, labeling a member a “red-coated fascist,” a “disgusting informer” and calling the university administration “cowardly” for permitting “these criminals [the IYSSE] to do and allow what they want.” Baberowski made clear his favored course of action was “simply denying [them] access to the lecture hall or issuing a ban on them at the institution.”
The IYSSE and its parent organization, the Socialist Equality Party, have well-known and irreconcilable political differences with the Loyola Socialists and the ISO. It is precisely for this reason that students should be able to have access to a diverse range of political views.
The censorship of political life on campus by administratively blocking student groups must be rejected and defeated.
The political censorship taking place at Loyola, NYU and campuses internationally is an expression of the sharp shift to the right by the ruling class and its political servants under conditions of a political radicalization, increased interest in socialism and growth of social opposition. University administrations, intimately tied to various corporate and military interests, as well as the Democratic and Republican parties, want to use every bureaucratic tool available to stifle serious political discussion and prevent any student group from threatening their monopoly over political discourse on the campuses.
The Trump administration is the most naked expression of this authoritarian and deeply anti-democratic process. Faced with popular opposition over its attacks on immigrants, destruction of public education and other vital social programs and plans for war, the Trump administration’s efforts to intimidate and silence political dissent will only grow.
This makes the fight against political censorship on the campuses even more critical. The IYSSE calls on all student organizations to oppose such censorship and to defend the right of students to establish political organizations of their choice.