Colleges, save for a select few, are known for being notoriously liberal. It’s common to feel like no one else shares your view on campus if you are conservative or Republican. There is a noticeable leftist bias everywhere you look—from the classroom to the events held on campus to the views of the students. It’s even more extreme if you attend a small liberal-arts college in Massachusetts, one of the most left-leaning states in the nation. However what I’ve observed during my first year at Wheaton College has led me to believe there may be hope for the conservative student’s voice to be heard, even at a college with such a liberal reputation.
At Wheaton College, there are few students who publicly identify as conservative. During Freshman Orientation, there was a mandatory diversity program. Throughout the program we were encouraged to stand up for various things we identified with such as our socioeconomic status, religion, or political ideology. I was one of less than 10 students in my group of about 250 to stand up as conservative.
Even more shocking is that Wheaton’s Conservative Club only has three members! I knew I was going to a left-leaning school, but I couldn’t believe that there was so few of us. The seemingly lack of conservative viewpoints at Wheaton College is similar to what many conservative students experience on other liberal campuses across the country.
However my experience this year has actually led me to believe that there are many students who hold conservative and Republican beliefs yet they are too afraid to publicly label themselves as such because of the backlash they may receive. They are afraid that their reputation will be ruined, that they’ll being called a racist or homophobic for no reason. They’re worried that they’ll lose friends, their grade will be affected, or even be threatened with violence simply for voicing their opinion.
I know there are alot of students on campus who support the Second Amendment or are pro-life, yet do not publicly identify with either side. There are many registered Republicans, especially Business majors, who are too afraid to join Wheaton Conservatives or speak about their beliefs. There was a study conducted last year by a student which found that approximately 40% of Wheaton students actually identify as non-liberal, which is a significant amount for a school in Massachusetts. These observations indicate that there are many right-leaning students at my campus—even if they won’t publicly admit it.
There are things we can do to change the atmosphere on college campuses in order to expand our influence, breakdown stereotyping, and encourage conservative students to speak their mind. Clubs associated with the conservative movement need to actively hold meetings and advertise, especially as some students may not even be aware of the club. Those who come to meetings have a chance to express their views in a welcoming environment, and, if they know there are others who hold similar beliefs, they will feel safer to share their opinion on campus.
We should also write for school publications when possible as a way to get our ideas out there. In turn, others may realize that they agree with certain aspects and, most importantly, see we are not the enemy. We just have a different view of how the government should be run. Debates are also a great as they allow us to express our beliefs with those who may not agree with us. Debates could even change our opponents’ view of things or, at the very least, help them to understand the conservative side better.
If liberalism is not as powerful as previously thought at a small college in the most leftist state in the nation, then conservatives are not as alone as they think on campuses across the country. By showing that the stereotypes of conservatives are false and not allowing our voices to be silenced, more students who already share our values and beliefs will feel more comfortable publicly identifying with our movement.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.