Recently, an article entitled “How Wake Forest Turned to the Left” was published in the Wake Forest Review online and as one of the main organizations associated with “the left” on campus, the Wake Forest College Democrats felt it would be constructive to issue a response to this article, which has prompted some questions and debate amongst our membership.
One of our main concerns with the article is its incorrect definition of the term ‘intersectionality’. This theory broadly attempts to address how the various types of oppression experienced by members of society who are not straight, white and male interact with one another to create layers of domination. The improper attribution of its roots to Marxism is purely incorrect and thinly-veiled sensationalism. To set the facts straight, the term was first coined in 1989 by a feminist scholar named Kimberlé Crenshaw. While the concept had certainly been brewing amongst scholars and theorists longer than its official coinage in 1989, it does not trace its roots back to Marxism in any fashion.
Later in the article, the author lists several programs hosted by various university offices, such as Identity Development by the Intercultural Center, L.E.A.V.E by the Women’s Center, and BRANCHES by the Pro Humanitate Institute — amongst others — and says “the sole purpose of the majority of [this programing] is to promote cultural Marxism.” Aside from the fact that the phrase ‘cultural Marxism’ is so vague it doesn’t even have a Wikipedia entry, or that a quick Google search unveils its main associations to be with alt-right supremacists, just two paragraphs prior, the author reveals that the advertised purpose of these institutes are to “provide valuable programs for students mixed with programming that promotes the importance of identity, intersectionality, and social justice,” as described by the institutes themselves. This mission statement is not only harmless, but is productive to forming a healthy community. Equating it with “cultural Marxism” and “Leftism” further demonstrates that the right has no interest in equality for minority groups, let alone in including them in the university community.
Further, the author raises a concern that by spending time in these offices, minority students have their entire college lives surrounded by “Leftism,” suggesting that they are being “indoctrinated with an almost religious belief in equity, intersectionality and identitarian politics.” It is the opinion of our membership that this is patently false. Progressives at Wake Forest regularly take some of the most controversial courses offered, hold leadership positions in countless extracurricular groups and the Student Government, and readily debate fellow-Deacons who have conflicting viewpoints, both inside of the classroom and out.
In his conclusion, the author argues that “this base of support [gives minority students] significantly more power on campus.” This claim fits perfectly into a hoax that conservatives on college campuses have been propagating for years, and has been debunked time and time again. College conservatives repeatedly victimize themselves in claiming that they are being silenced by some invisible liberal force that has ‘infiltrated the administration’ — sounding more like a spy thriller than a description of the state of a university.
The Wake Forest College Democrats urge campus conservatives to engage with progressives as often as possible. Airing and debating our differences are the only way to find mutual ground and repair frayed relations — two goals I’m sure we have in common. Yet, as we have in the past, the Wake Forest College Democrats also urge the Wake Forest Review to reexamine its ideological convictions. It has associated itself with a shrinking, radical strand of the Republican platform that fosters wild, regressive claims with shaky or nonexistent evidence. Let’s get back to factuality and open the floor for debate.