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Penn poltical scene

Lateralus123Lateralus123 2 replies1 threads New Member
Hey guys (and gals, and gender-nonconformists lel). So I was wondering what the Penn political scene is like. How diverse is it in terms of conservative/liberal ratio? how much importance is given to political discourse on campus (for example, is it as active as Yale?)? how PC is it (I find PC culture insufferable but that's just me)? notable political clubs/events? Is there an activism culture (like that of Columbia for example?). Thanks!

P.S. I'm also into dark, often offensive, humor (think Jimmy Carr, Frankie Boyle, Louis CK on a bad day, Bill Maher, etc.). To what extent are those kinds of jokes palatable on campus? Is there an audience for it?
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Replies to: Penn poltical scene

  • Much2learnMuch2learn 4610 replies168 threads Senior Member
    Penn has a good political science program and a new building for that program is under construction.

    The campus is fairly liberal, but more conservative than many with so many business students. Students will participate in protests, etc., but most of them need a solid reason. There are always exceptions but most students will just be annoyed if you want to protest the General's chicken being made with a healthier recipe.

    A lot depends on what you mean by PC culture. In my experience, people mean many things by PC.

    Recently, a Trump supporter told me that Muslims are dangerous, and he doesn't like gays either. I said I thought his statements were much too broad and inappropriate. He said I was just being PC, and pointed out, correctly, that he can say whatever he wants to. Then, when I said I I didn't like his Islamophobic and homophobic comments, he claimed my comment was offensive, and he should not have to put up with it. I think his hateful comments are offensive, and he thinks hating other people is fine, but pointing out his hate is offensive. We all have our own views of what PC means. lol
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  • Lateralus123Lateralus123 2 replies1 threads New Member
    edited September 2016
    Thank you guys, that was helpful. Much2learn, I understand what you mean by the variance in experience of PC culture. I'm totally on your side on that debate, I hate open bigotry and unfair generalizations in the name of free speech. However, the PC culture I am wary of is the one where criticism of Islam or any other religion as a doctrine and a set of ideas is unfairly conflated with bigotry against Muslims as people, or where people get offended and shout down professors over Halloween costumes like at Yale, or where the only feminists around are typical misandry-prone radicals, or where white people are constantly reminded of their past transgressions and made to feel unfairly guilty (like what students at Pomona did in their freshmen dorm rooms recently). I'm all for appreciating diversity and being non-offensive to minorities and culturally sensible (I'm from South East Asia myself! :D) , I'm just not comfortable with that sort of radical PC-ness, if you will.

    I'm very liberal myself, so you can expect me joining the rally against the homophobic priest-type guys. I also understand that some students might take issue with the CIA guy, as his term as director coincided with the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee report on CIA torture and revelations of global surveillance, so I can't say I'm completely against that. I was just wondering whether Penn is one of those ultra-liberal LAC type colleges, where every dissenting opinion is considered hate-speech, where perfectly reasonable people such as Christina Hoff Sommers are banned for seemingly no reason (Oberlin 2015), where students gets triggered over the slightest provocation. Given what you've told me, I'm thinking that Penn is not that kind of place, so that's great.
    edited September 2016
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  • Much2learnMuch2learn 4610 replies168 threads Senior Member
    @Lateralus123 I think the way you are criticizing religious ideals, and not people would be fine. People understand the difference.

    However, before taking on this challenge, you may wish to consider the words of Dr. Gregory House, who once said, "If you could reason with religious people, there would not be any religious people."

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  • sbjdorlosbjdorlo 4896 replies388 threads Senior Member
    Penn gets a green light rating from FIRE. "Green light institutions are those colleges and universities whose policies nominally protect free speech."

    https://www.thefire.org/schools/university-of-pennsylvania/
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  • PennCAS2014PennCAS2014 378 replies8 threads Member
    edited October 2016
    Not only does FIRE give Penn a "green light" rating, the organization was actually co-founded in 1999 by Penn professor Alan Charles Kors (you should take his class, you'll love him).

    Speaking broadly, Penn is definitely socially liberal. Before gay marriage equality was the law of the land, the College Republicans and the Penn Democrats had a joint campaign to promote marriage equality. Students on campus did "ferguson fridays" where they would protest perceived police brutality against minority communities every friday on Locust Walk. They did a "die in" at President Amy Gutmann's house once (she joined them and the Penn Police got a little miffed at her but it's all patched up now).

    At the same time, Penn has a very vocal conservative movement on campus. Anti-LGBT Rights speakers have come to campus. Newt Gingrich was hosted. Frank Luntz was hosted. Eric Cantor *was* coming to Penn to speak until he found out his speech was open to the general public and not just Penn students (that's the story he's sticking to, anyway). Penn has had two alums run for the republican nomination in the last 2 elections (College of Arts and Science alum and former Governor of Utah/Ambassador to China, Jon Huntsman, Jr. and a certain business mogul that you've probably never heard of ;) ). So there's definitely a commitment to political discourse across the board.

    BUT-- this is not Columbia. There is much less patience for activism that interferes with class, extracurriculars, job opportunities, and the atmosphere on campus. A lot of political disagreements between students also get swept under the rug when it comes time to party on Saturday night. You are unlikely to find a student willing to carry around a mattress for her entire senior year to bring awareness to rape culture. Though Penn students have been canvassing campus with flyers to bring awareness to the issue. I can't really imagine students shouting down a professor over halloween costumes. In fact, when students wouldn't let Amy Gutmann respond to criticisms during the party at her house at which students performed a "die in," other students were yelling "let her speak!" All of this is to say that Penn is liberal at its core but it's not nearly as extreme in its activism as Columbia. There were protests at Penn in the 60s but the ones that everyone knows about happened at Berkeley and Columbia. That's pretty much how it is today too.

    You'll be fine at Penn as long as you are polite, respectful, and your opinions are well reasoned and grounded in logic, not bigotry. Though, I bet that's true at Columbia/Yale as well :P
    edited October 2016
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