The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

SMU professor Susanne Scholz in the West Bank in 2018.
SMU professor to return to campus after being trapped in Gaza for 12 years
Sara Hummadi, Video Editor • May 18, 2024
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Indoctrination permeates campus life

This past week, an unpleasant taste has come to settle onto my palate.

It is both bitter and sharp, as well as aggressive and distasteful.

The flavor to which I refer originates in neither food nor drink. Rather, I refer to the bad taste left in my mouth from overt indoctrination. And frankly, I’m unable to stomach much more at this point.

What exactly do I mean by indoctrination, you ask?

Indoctrination: noun referring to the action of professing one’s beliefs uncritically, often through the use of forceful tactics and employed to obfuscate elements of the truth.

It all started at the SMU basketball game.

A fellow fan turned to the bleachers packed full of SMU students and, to my surprise, proceeded to “educate” us on how to act like proper fans. The impassioned Mustang claimed we needed to “get loud, be brutal, make things personal and give the other team a real hard time.” She ended her fervid diatribe with “And that’s what being a fan at an SMU basketball is all about!”

Well, she makes some good points and I don’t intend to examine the staying quality of her argument. I do, however, criticize her modus operandi. Quite simply, she was trying to indoctrinate all of us to “behave” like her perception of what a true fan is.

Agreed, this is not the most egregious form of the distasteful fruit of indoctrination but the indoctrination does not end at the basketball court.

It showed up full force in the context of student elections. Everything from Facebook group invitations, to campaign promises saying “your concerns are my concerns,” to strategic campaigning conversations reek with the stench of indoctrination.

The message here is a forceful: “I will actively represent your concerns.” The knowledge of three other elections past seems to suggest that their fervor will quickly die down, the conversations will soon end and the request for student concerns will pass with the end of the election cycle.

However, each year the same passionate promises and desires to represent the student body resurface.

The indoctrination, again, does not stop here. Take a look at the side of the Umphrey Lee building and you’ll encounter perhaps the most overt indoctrination on our campus at this time.

Emblazoned on the outside of the building and positioned next to an engraving of the First Amendment, no less, are a series of pictures. One shows a picture of former President George W. Bush and former First Lady Laura Bush waving in front of a tunnel of American flags behind them. Another is simply the logo of the George W. Bush Presidential Center. The final picture shows several Afghan women that boasts the slogan “Building Afghanistan’s Future.”

This indoctrinating signage is both unapologetic and deplorable. It is at least a political statement to claim that the work of President Bush’s presidency labored to build a future in Afghanistan. The last time I checked, a decade of war was not exactly a promising future.

Furthermore, I don’t see the picture of any other president or donor posted on the walls of a building. Forgive me if I don’t wish to be subject to propaganda as I walk to class.

Perhaps the reason indoctrination is most unsavory is not that it professes a belief, it is that it does so without respect for reason, discourse or criticism. It excludes each of those things from part of the conversation.

No one challenged the girl at the basketball game to inform her that her prescriptions don’t ring true for all fans. Few have challenged the empty promises or mirages of concerns for students presented by student body representatives. There is no challenge to a public endorsement of the work of President Bush or to the idea that his work as president somehow helped to build for a future for Afghanistan.

Indeed, each of these posits may be true. However, without the proper discourse, without public criticism and intellectual inspection, we cannot determine them as such.

At present, none of these claims can be validated because they are not even open to evaluation. Instead, they are submitted as unquestionable reality. And that, my friends, is indoctrination.

In the context of the university, indoctrination seems out of place. The university is an institution of learning, involving both asking questions and analyzing proposed answers. Indoctrination directly contradicts those tenets.

Drew Konow is a senior religious studies, foreign languages and literatures major. He can be reached for comments or questions at [email protected].

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