I am used to professors and classmates at Penn State Altoona stifling views. After my professor claimed that only religious people were pro-life, I tried to speak up but my professor interrupted me, dismissed my comments, and moved on with the class. Another professor called conservatives racist. Other students have called me unsympathetic during the “believe all women” movement because I supported Kavanaugh.
As such, it was encouraging when Penn State tweeted that conservative viewpoints matter. The College of Liberal Arts at Penn State tweeted a graphic with the title “DEAR STUDENTS, EACH OF YOU BELONG HERE,” addressing latinx, female, LBGTQ+, international students, and even conservative students. This tweet was a huge win. It meant the professors who facilitated open conversations were the ones that represented my school. However, the school quickly took it down. Why?
They made the mistake of including the line, “Dear conservative students, Your viewpoints are important,” and subsequently caved to an online liberal mob. Penn State proved that they align with those who don’t believe in the exchange of ideas. They took down the tweet, retracting their support of conservatives on campus.
This move runs contrary to the very purpose of the university. The University of Chicago’s famous statement in support of free expressions reads, “It is not the proper role of the University to attempt to shield individuals from ideas and opinions they find unwelcome, disagreeable, or even deeply offensive.” Universities like Penn State should encourage different viewpoints, not cave to one side of the conversation.
I am an outspoken conservative, but other conservatives are timid on campus. They don’t feel Penn State is a place where they can express views. Penn State’s retraction sends a clear message to conservative students but also stunts the ability of liberal students to learn new ideas and hone their own, becoming more knowledgeable through engagement with conservatives.
Admittedly, the graphic focused on immutable characteristics, which doesn’t apply to political views. Nonetheless, once Penn State put conservatives on the list, they should have stuck with their decision. Conservatives already have trouble expressing their views on campus and hosting conservative speakers on campus. Penn State should know this after Ben Shapiro’s speech there; leftist activists banged on the door to the auditorium and screamed so students could not hear him.
As if deleting the tweet wasn’t insulting enough, Penn State’s school newspaper The Daily Collegian wrote an article titled “Penn State students of color share their thoughts on now-deleted College of the Liberal Arts tweet.” The article discussed Penn State deleting their tweet and did not include any conservative students in the article. Instead, they interviewed all liberal students. Furthermore, why were only students of color interviewed? This was not an issue based on race. Penn State is showing that they only value the appearance of a person and not the ideas they present.
Penn State should make two separate tweets. One in support of students based on characteristics they can’t change such as race and gender. Another tweet in support of the conservatives and liberals on their campus. Open the conversation to everyone instead of surrendering to one side of the political spectrum. Similarly, the school newspaper needs to understand journalism is about trying to get both sides of the story. Ignoring conservative viewpoints to push an agenda will not help lead to honest discussions.
I love Penn State’s “We Are” chant. However, “We Are” has to include everyone on campus. It doesn’t matter what race, gender, sexual orientation, or political party a person is. I’m not convinced my school believes I belong in that chant.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.