Toppling the Ivory Tower | News | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper


Toppling the Ivory Tower

A guide to some of the political issues worth paying attention to on your campus



The best, and worst, thing about college life is this: The campus politics, the petty jealousies, the ridiculous regulations ... that's pretty much what the whole world is like. Life really is like high school, except it's more expensive and the booze is slightly easier to get hold of. Which is to say life is more like college. And vice versa.

When you're sitting in a classroom halfway up the Cathedral of Learning, or screened from the outside world by a leafy campus, it's easy to forget that. It's easy to think of a college campus as being separate from the world around it. But that new building may be financed by defense contracts being used to wage war half a world away ... and its construction may have crowded out a family-owned business, or weakened the city's tax base. Your favorite professor may be getting the short end of the stick because he's gay, or because the school wants to spend money on sports programs instead. You may no longer be able to afford your next semester because of a collapse in financial markets you've never even heard of.

It's easy to go through four (or more) years of school without thinking about this sort of thing, but why would you want to? In the stories that follow, you'll find a handful of issues that, while they affect local college campuses, are more than just academic. Any one of them could be a reason to get involved on campus, and they'll at least keep you busy until it's time to vote for Obama this November.

Follow the links below to read about ... 

Classroom Crowding: Sprawling  campuses are a boon -- up to a point.

Flunking Civics: Students are being hit with the bill for their failure to organize.

Incomplete Grade: With student encouragement, Duquesne takes a big step forward -- but more work is needed on LGBT issues.

Bombing More Than Exams: Be mindful of military spending on campus, activists urge.

Numbers Game: When it comes to salaries for teachers and coaches, do schools put money where their mouths are?

Over a Barrel Debate over guns on campus likely to continue.

Review Course A look at political statements gone horribly wrong



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