ISO

The recent discussions over the International Socialist Organization obscure a basic point: Fundamentally, it is an anti-intellectual group. It has no real interest in reasoned debate or true intellectual inquiry. The reality is that it is a cult — albeit one based on worship of political figures such as Marx and Lenin rather than religious figures such as Jesus. It isolates its members and is a danger to their emotional,spiritual and intellectual development. The truth of the ISO is that it is also an organization of terrorist camp-followers. When one considers the website of the ISO (http://www.internationalsocialist.org/) one sees a variety of statements supporting the use of violence and supporting those who engage in violent acts. One fails to see how the values of this group are compatable with either their status as a recognized student organization or the intellectual values of the university. One only has to consider the facts of the last year and the numerous run-ins that the ISO has had with law enforcement to see the total disregard that the group has for civilized society and the rule of law. The student members of the ISO can be somewhat excused. They are displaying their intellectual and moral immaturity, but they are young and, one supposes, they will grow out of it. What is less understandable is the support the ISO has among faculty members. Support of the ISO is inconsistent with the loyalty oath that faculty are required to sign as a condition of employment. More to the point, it’s morally inconsistent to support an organization that opposes the government while, at the same time, taking a paycheck from that same government. The real problem here is that we have faculty at UVM who are intellectually and morally confused. They prefer to promote their own values at the expense of the students who are placed in their charge. In some instances they appear to lack even a basic understanding of fundamental issues such as intellectual honesty. One has to wonder about the basic moral fitness of such individuals to be allowed to be responsible for the development of young people. What is more troubling is that, in some instances, these misguided comments by faculty are conveyed to the community at large — thus damaging the reputation and standing of the university. Iwould hope that our new leadership here at UVM would take a hard look at this situation and, perhaps, clarify the situation for those faculty who seem not to understand their roles and responsibilities. People seem to worry quite a bit about the financial bankruptcy of UVM. It seems that we have a more important problem: our moral bankruptcy. When we see such organizations as the ISO, which represents a clear and present danger to both our students and the larger community, aided and abetted by faculty who have abandoned their moral responsibility to their students one despairs for the future of the university. One can only hope that the tide can be turned and the university can reassert itself as a place where we place true intellectual inquiry above the promotion of misguided ideology.