When researching colleges, I wanted somewhere that showcased independent thinking, peer empowerment, and academic excellence. When I discovered women’s colleges I was thrilled to have found a network that had these components. I never once expected to find the inverse when I arrived on campus.
In every class I’ve taken, I have been the sole conservative in the room. When other students express their views, they are given respect; no one is eager to make them feel wrong for what they believe. When I raise my hand, those around are determined not to listen and consider, but rather to dismantle my opinion and even passive aggressively attack me through ad hominem remarks.
For example, when I disclosed my conservative opinion in one class, instead of a healthy debate ensuing, I was simply told that it was my “white privilege speaking.” My friends have felt a backlash from this toxic mindset. One told me that several of her friends asked why she was friends with “the girl in College Republicans.” If there’s one reaction, though, that could encompass the general attitude towards me, it would be the girl who simply said, “Ew.”
Growing up in small-town Iowa, I had never felt this kind of odious opposition in my life. Being a swing state, it felt like everyone was moderate with only a few “crazies” on either side. Amidst it all, I saw friendly, constructive debate among people in my community. I’m used to debate,but attending a college where the overwhelming majority aggressively disagrees with me has been a culture shock.
There have been positives to this liberally biased campus however. I have had to more clearly define my beliefs as I navigate the harsh environment. For example, I never imagined the title “anti-women,” but this accusation forced me delineate how my political identity is really quite the contrary.
I am perplexed that an institution for furthering education can have an atmosphere of this nature. I remain convinced that my peers are intelligent and accepting, so how can students assume so much about me based on my political identify. Have they really never met someone different than themselves before or are they that blinded by the media? How can you pride yourselves on promoting acceptance for all no matter their sexual orientation, race or gender, but exclude something so integrated into my personal identity, my political views?
One of my best friends and greatest assets to my perseverance through college has been fellow conservative Kassy Dillon. She also receives a lot of hate and has been doing so for almost four years. Several of my friends have been asked why I would choose to be friends with someone like her while falsely accusing her of being an Islamaphobic and racist. I have seen how they choose to treat her poorly instead of showing tolerance for her different views, and I fear that, by the time I’m a senior, I could be in her shoes. She has shown me the need to persist and fight off the negativity with a smile on my face and remain above the muck.
Much blame falls on the biased nature of the professors. It affects the learning environment and indoctrinates students before they even have the chance to make their own decisions? We only have one openly conservative professor here, so feeling alienated is the norm not the exception.
Fortunately, I have found that some students are willing to have conversations, debates, and listen, but I am stunned that most are not. I hope that conservative students will continue to persevere in a situation that many of us have been put in. I hope that rather than turning towards an equal, reactive, hatred, many will find acquaintances like I have to push them into more lucid opinions and more positive reactions. Ultimately, I hope and pray that professors and their students will learn to accept and understand– rather than behave with the very qualities of which they accuse us of perpetrating.