Former Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker spoke at Grainger Hall on Wednesday, describing the University of Wisconsin-Madison as a place of Marxist indoctrination and touching on several issues including the 2024 presidential election and Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill.
Walker, who was invited by conservative student group GOP Badgers, spoke as a representative and president of Young America’s Foundation (YAF). According to the organization’s mission statement, YAF aims to recruit and mobilize young people to support conservative policies within American politics.
During his speech, Walker emphasized his belief that the political atmosphere of the University of Wisconsin, and college campuses broadly, are hostile to students and faculty who subscribe to conservative ideologies. Walker named no specific policies, officials or students responsible for the inhospitable climate, but pointed to a broader national trend.
“We’ve seen national surveys that conservatives feel that their ability to speak their mind is either canceled or pushed back,” he said. “Even if they’re not right-of-center but (do) not fully supportive of a radical left wing agenda, they’re going to get grief on social media and in the dorm or from their partner or walking down the street.”
Walker jokingly described UW-Madison as a place of Marxist indoctrination and said that shutting down the university slowed the spread of communism.
“Some might say going to college here at Madison tells you a lot about Marxism,” Walker said. “I’ve often said during COVID when we shut down colleges and universities, we did more to stop the spread of communism than prevent the spread of COVID along the way because of a bunch of the influences. Not just because of the faculty and staff, but oftentimes from fellow students and bad actors.”
When asked by The Daily Cardinal if he actually believes the UW-Madison campus to be a place of marxist indoctrination, Walker stated that he feels the views expressed by faculty are more liberal than the beliefs the general public subscribes to. Walker did not cite any examples of published works or official statements made by students or faculty as evidence of this fact.
“If you look at statements made by (UW-Madison) faculty and the writings that come out (of the university) consistently, with a few exceptions, they're much more left leaning than the ones you see sort out in the general population here in Wisconsin and across the nation,” Walker said.
Walker encouraged attendees to take the free speech survey, funded by a donation to UW-Stout's Menard Center, that was originally slated to be sent to UW System students Thursday. The controversial survey designed to gauge how students feel their campuses support free speech has already been postponed until the fall semester.
Walker also told the Cardinal that he believes student loan debt to be the most pressing issue facing UW-Madison students in the modern day.
“The biggest problem for students… is student loan debt,” said Walker. “That's certainly an issue when I was governor and the reason we froze tuition for so many years when I was in office. It was a challenge not only for students and graduates but for their families.”
During his address, Walker additionally spoke on Donald Trump’s potential 2024 run. Looking to the next presidential election, the former governor stated that he would prefer Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to be the Republican nominee, but that he would vote for Donald Trump over incumbent President Joe Biden.
“The person who I think is most aligned with where I would be is Governor Ron DeSantis,” said Walker. “Having said that, we still want to win . . . no matter who we nominate, that person will be better, by a landslide, than Joe Biden.”