ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR ILYA BUYNEVICH: I grew up in the Soviet Union. Even those universities valued merit more than some American schools do today.

Walking near Temple University, I noticed a flyer advocating for “socialism in our lifetime.” The message from an outside group reads in full, “Socialist Revolution: Join the fight for socialism in our lifetime.” Having grown up in Soviet-era Ukraine and now a tenured professor at Temple, I feel strongly that most college-age Americans do not understand what they are saying when they advocate for socialism.

Today, many American college students do not understand that they are advocating for a system that goes beyond what even the Soviets promoted. There is a real distinction that students do not appreciate between the romanticized idea of state socialism in Scandinavia and the reality of socialism – what I experienced as a student in the Soviet Union.

Most student activists tout equity and many undergraduates champion socialism as a means to achieve equity – a process to engineer outcomes. Where I grew up, this would mean giving everyone the same grade, so it was never a factor in Soviet higher education.

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