The Prospect’s usual political article disclaimer: This piece reflects the views of the writer and not the views of the entire TP staff.
For the first time ever, I’m scared to go to school.
I’m Christian and Republican. I’m for American capitalism, the military and the police department. I don’t support President Obama nor the HRC. Naturally, I don’t #feelthebern, either. I’m against affirmative action and free college. I detest Obamacare and Common Core. I believe Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush were the two greatest presidents in U.S. history, and Obama, the worst. I’m socially and fiscally conservative.
That said, I’m scared to go to school.
When I worked as the Opinion Editor for my high school publication team, I was brash, blunt and spunky. I had as many loving supporters as I had haters, and though my adviser was on the opposite end of the political spectrum, he took me for a responsible student who talks the talk and walks the walk. Honestly, I’ve only made beautiful memories—I lost a few close friends due to a couple “offensive” articles, but my support base was extensive and I made great strides as a writer.
I’m pretty realistic—I knew a college newsroom would be worlds apart from a high school classroom; almost everyone, if not everyone on the staff, would be liberal. However, with so many people stacked up against me, I feel frightened and ill at ease.
These demographics aren’t limited to a college media staff, however. With President Obama making tireless efforts to liberalize society and PLUR spreading like wildfire among college students, it’s difficult for one to make a choice between social comfort and political conviction. Needless to say, students like myself, who are on the established Right, prefer to stay in the closet—eyebrows are raised at the mere mention of conservatism. Once specific, contested views come into play in the discussion, the atmosphere turns sour in the very least.
I have quite a few friends who choose to pander to their professors’ ideologies in order to avoid receiving a disappointing score on papers or exams. Although I’d never want to embrace such actions, as they go against my moral code, it’s completely understandable—no sane student would want poor marks or ongoing conflicts with those who have a considerable amount of power in determining one’s final grade for the class. I’m not trying to covertly throw all college faculty under the bus, but conservative students have a tough time “coming out” in classes because a lot of professors are not very open to other views. I’ve had some professors tell me I had “no right” to be making such and such arguments, and that they had no logical basis whatsoever.
Nowadays, there’s really no such thing as political diversity on a college campus. And while there certainly are reasoned liberals who respect conservative views, a majority of those I encounter only profess they welcome everyone with open arms, because prejudice is a bad, bad thing. While screaming the liberal rallying cry of love and toleration for all, ironically, they turn away immediately once someone with different political views starts to speak up.
Some people even see me as evil once I tell them I’m Republican—they immediately lump me with Donald Trump and his silly band of supporters. Because Trump’s policies are so absurd and his rhetoric, coarse, a lot of people assume all Republicans are stupid and insensitive. It’s nearly impossible to fight against this label regardless of all the explaining and reassuring one does, and unfortunately, one’s morale plummets.
Yet, if there’s one thing I appreciate in being harshly criticized for my views, it’s that the support behind my beliefs grow stronger in time. Such an outcome is almost natural—being forced to face my convictions and make sure I know exactly what I’m talking about compels me to stand firmer in my sentiment. On the contrary, liberal students, who don’t need to ride shotgun for their beliefs as much as conservative students do, have a much more effortless and relaxed college experience. This phenomenon is essentially against what the system hopes students will achieve by receiving a college education—being challenged and learning to expand one’s academic and social horizons.
Just like any college student in America, I want my college years to be fun and fruitful. For it to be so, there needs to be more respect and a lot of chances for conservative students like myself to participate in open forums of discussion without feeling assaulted. There needs to be a stop of double standards in the school system in order for all students to have a pleasant slice of the proper college experience.
Until then, I’ll be scared to go to school.