How One Year at College Pushed Me to the Right

by

Tuesday, July 31, 2018


Coming from a town where city and country collide, I grew up exposed to both liberal and conservative ideologies. Because my family never pushed their own beliefs onto me, I spent my later high school years figuring out where I fell on the political spectrum. By the end of high school, I had found myself where I considered to be the middle; I had some conservative beliefs but did not feel comfortable truly saying I leaned to the right. Feeling confident with this conclusion, I was determined to enter college with an open mind, while maintaining a strong vigilance for any biases that might appear in my new surroundings.

     I was first greeted at my college orientation with the usual icebreakers and social activities one could expect from an enthusiastic group seeking to get new members excited for the events to come. These typical activities were just what I anticipated, until one question caught me by surprise: “What are your gender pronouns?” While it may not be an entirely uncommon question on college campuses, this was something I had never been asked before. This did not challenge my political ideology or personal beliefs, but because of it I knew this was going to be a very different experience than what I had grown up with and I knew my recently-crystalized beliefs would feel some pressure.

After getting acquainted with my new university and taking some fun courses I knew I would enjoy, I decided to sign up for a political science class about the study of International Relations. This course is where I truly began to develop and cement the conservative beliefs I hold now.

To my professor’s credit, this course could have been far more biased; he gave fascinating lectures with great humor and managed to keep me intrigued throughout the course. However, I began to notice a trend. While discussing the latest events, the whole perspective of the political right was often left out. For example, the professor began to discuss Trump’s decision to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal. Conversation within the lecture hall typically led to the conclusion that leaving the deal was an irrational decision that stabbed our allies in the back, and, as a result, his decision could lead the US to war with Iran.

Immediately I began to wonder why Trump would make such a decision, if the class discussions were in fact true. Surely it could not be that he was that daft? Just as I expected, it did not take me long to learn possible reasons why he would make this decision, such as to help our other allies in the region. Whether one agreed or disagreed with those reasons, they were there, and the very fact that my professor had left them out made me question much of what I heard in the future.

This example illustrates the kind of bias I found most often around campus. It was not a kind of explicit or outward disregard for the political opposition, but a quiet and difficult-to-detect silence when it came to the conservative view. Because of this, intellectual consistency and the need to understand all perspectives became increasingly important to me, specifically as I heard leftists explain why guns should be reserved for police while the same people cried out about police corruption and racism. In the same vein, I wondered why, since rape is such a big problem on campus, is the school trying to make students as defenseless as possible?

As much as I joke about “fake news” around friends and family, there really is a problem of intellectual dishonesty in the country today. Not all views are represented equally in society. I learned a lot from the content of my classes and I am very grateful to my professors who taught me, but attending a university where leftist political ideology is the large majority has taught me one thing most of all: the conservative ideology is the more intellectually consistent ideology.

Before I left for college, I was afraid that calling myself a conservative would lead others to despise me rather quickly, particularly in a large metropolitan city. As a young American surrounded by a pop culture where one is either with or against them, I was afraid to identify myself with that line of thought. Ultimately, I came to discover conservatives are often simply misunderstood by leftists. They are sometimes so quick to call conservatives “bigots” that they do not truly realize we all have everyone’s best interest in mind. I concede that not all leftists or liberals behave this way, but just as I learned in my International Relations class, bias does not always appear so explicitly.

After much research, deliberation, and conversation, I went home for summer able to comfortably and proudly call myself a conservative.


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About Noah Placzek

University of Washington

Noah Placzek is an undergraduate student at the University of Washington. His interests include history, political science, and music. When he isn't studying, Noah enjoys playing games and watching sports with friends.

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