Campus Political Fights Come Home for the Summer

Campus Political Fights Come Home for the Summer

Abiola featured in a New York Times Article about parent/student political dynamics.

By Dana Goldstein July 31st, 2017

College in the summer: Dorms and quads are quiet, and it seems that the whole community is catching its breath. No marches, sit-ins, shout-downs, protesters giving professors whiplash. No arguments over free speech, Black Lives Matter, Israeli boycotts, abortion, Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, President Trump.

But the fighting hasn’t stopped. It has just come home for the summer.

College students driven to the left (and occasionally to the right) by campus culture wars are now engaging in the same debates with their longtime housemates — also known as their parents. Students come home thinking that their parents are hopelessly stuck in some distant era like the 1990s; parents wonder what thousands of tuition dollars actually paid for.

The New York Times interviewed students and their parents who have struggled to live under the same roof, even for a few weeks, sometimes arriving at détente over dinner and other times ending in slammed bedroom doors. Their responses have been condensed and edited.

Abiola and Kimberly Agoro.


Sophomore, George Washington University; activist in left-wing campus movements

Kimberly Agoro

Manager of a medical practice, Fort Worth; former Republican, now a moderate Democrat

Abiola: When you’re raised in the South, people always say about racism, “It’s just the South.” But when I got to college, I saw that you’d have young Democrats who would say horribly racist things to you, but then would say “Black Lives Matter.” So at school, I got involved with the campus chapter of the N.A.A.C.P. and volunteered for Hillary for America. I’m also part of a group of students who researches Israeli-Palestinian issues, especially the settlements, which are a big part of the conflict. I’ve been an activist trying to get rid of Islamophobia.

My parents say that I have a bleeding red heart for the entire world.

My mom used to be a Republican. She managed to work her way to financial health from a poor family, and she doesn’t always believe in handouts. But with the racism in the Republican Party, she is now a conservative Democrat. She will say “Black Lives Matter” but also, “I should be able to have guns.”

This past year at American University, people hung bananas on campus and called black students monkeys. I marched with students from colleges across the region. My parents are of the opinion that if there is racism at a school or someplace else, you shouldn’t go there. But I’m of the opinion that you should be able to go wherever you want to go.

We’re on a cruise together right now, and we just got into a political argument last night. We’ll definitely yell sometimes. My dad will get upset and keep saying his point over and over again. My mom will just walk away. But we never stay mad for long.

Kimberly: We’re in the Caribbean on vacation, and she was expressing angst over the dolphins being in their dolphin pens. I said “Abi, we came here because we want to see dolphins!”

She is so good at heart. But there are still times I wish there was some more hard-core practicality to her views. I wish she would listen and learn. I have a degree in African studies and biology and participated in many movements. She doesn’t always respect my vast experience.

I can’t afford to make my blood pressure work in order to really get her to understand, so I will quite often back down. I will wait for the right situation to teach her the lesson I need her to know. Sometimes, kids are just that way.

Read more at: Campus Political Fights Come Home for the Summer