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Donor Spotlight

Alan Dlugash: fighting “institutionalized idiocy”

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Alan Dlugash wasn’t always active in politics. With parents who had lived through the Holocaust and extended family who were lost, he understood the dangers of big government (and that understanding led to a support of free markets), but he didn’t spend his time studying history or economics.

As Dlugash says, he “only liked hard and fast things” that didn’t have a lot of room for debate and philosophy. Instead, he kept his eye on earning a business degree and an MBA, then building a family and a successful accounting business. Even though he wasn’t focused on them, his core values remained rooted in liberty. He said “I probably would have been considered a conservative, but I was a libertarian.”

Growing in liberty

It wasn’t until he was in his forties that Alan Dlugash started discovering free-market organizations, and quickly realized that the root of the problems in society grew from failures in education and how events became watered-down over time, rather than serving as cautionary examples.

When it came to the Holocaust, he said his parents had an “ability to feel it; I intellectually knew about it.” Now, people are so undereducated on it that people deny that this most egregious example of big government actually occurred. For a while, he was “really concerned that it’s too late by the time kids get to college.” Then, he learned about Students For Liberty, and found it “incredible (we) can get to who we can considering the indoctrination students are exposed to in K-12.” He said SFL “has a more important place in my heart, because I wouldn’t be able to change the mind of somebody my own age coming out of institutionalized idiocy. SFL is really important.”

Fighting “institutionalized idiocy”

He fears that students now are “misled into thinking that everybody thinks the other way” and advises them: “Don’t give up your brain. Don’t think ‘what’s wrong with my thinking?’ Give yourself confidence, keep the confidence in your own brain to follow it and try to get support from other people. When you learn, you get to realize that the people on the other side are using buzzwords, are using spin, are using soundbites rather than facts.”

With these soundbites “it takes 15 seconds and it’s all wrong. To explain how it’s wrong takes more than 15 seconds.” He said that, even when people know certain things are wrong, they won’t take the time to understand the other side. “You can’t explain anything because people don’t have the attention span or willingness to get it right.”

Dlugash knows an organization like Students For Liberty would have changed his life at Wharton where he knew what he believed, but never spoke up. His friends weren’t involved in student activities and, even if they had been, he said, “student groups stood for everything I was against and I wasn’t confident enough to speak out. I disagreed with the student newspaper but I never wrote an op-ed. Now, it’s 100 times worse.”

Believing in Students For Liberty

Alan Dlugash understands that SFL’s three-piece approach to educate, develop, and empower is key to our success – and something he believes that all colleges and universities should do. He explains, “Instead of just teaching subjects, they should teach things like decision-making and research. How to find answers. These are skills that don’t come naturally to people.”

That’s why he gives to SFL instead of his alma mater; the work and passion he’s seen from students addresses this deficit and has left him impressed.

“Whatever you did to get them,” he told SFL of our students, “keep doing it.”

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This piece solely expresses the opinion of the author and not necessarily the organization as a whole. Students For Liberty is committed to facilitating a broad dialogue for liberty, representing a variety of opinions.

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