The victimization of the conservative student
February 23, 2017
Filed under OPINIONS
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Aaron Hanlon, a former conservative op-ed editor for The Bucknellian, recently published a post in The New York Times regarding conservative students claiming to be “victims of ideological oppression.” He experienced what it was really like to be on an extremely liberal campus, although he attended the University over a decade ago.
Speaking as a conservative student, I do not believe that we are victims on the University’s campus. It is not so much victimization as it is silencing the conservative. I do feel that there is a disconnect between conservative and liberal students, however. In my opinion, there are a lot of assumptions made about conservative students and their voices are often silenced. While they are not victims to ideological oppression, they most certainly are timid or scared to say how they feel. I do not think that should be taken lightly.
The University is supposedly an inclusive campus, but when a whole group feels ostracized for their political beliefs, it becomes obvious that the campus is not doing everything it can to help facilitate civil discussion. There is a simple solution to this problem: if you feel like you are really being victimized by the vocal left, then be just as vocal. Do not let them make you feel like you are not allowed to have an opinion, or that what you have to say does not matter. You might surprise them. They may not respect your opinions and they will most likely oppose you, but that is the great thing about free speech—it helps people get their ideas out into the world.
I believe that everyone can have his or her own opinion. I believe in free speech and freedom of the press. I do not believe in people trying to take that away and then claim to be social justice warriors. If I am willing to listen to an opposing argument and am able to do so in a respectful manner, then I expect that in return. To reiterate, you are only a victim to ideological oppression if you let the other side silence you. I always believed that having an open discussion would be a good way to solve issues or, at the very least, come to an understanding and not just blindly agree. I think the problem that conservative students who feel like victims face is that they feel as though they cannot speak up on campus about their political ideologies.
Saying you are a conservative tends to cause people to automatically assume not only your opinions on certain matters, but also who you are as a person, in my experience. Just recently, an email sent out by a professor was exposed that made strong claims against conservatives who choose to be active on campus. I have never met this professor, but he assumed something about me that is false and unfounded. It is most likely untrue of my fellow conservative students as well. The problems that these students face are wide generalizations made about them by the other side, typically progressives, who do not like to listen because they think they already know everything about conservatism. In many cases, it can go both ways.
Many millennial conservatives are not what the progressives on campus have made them out to be. It seems as though we are believed to be some sort of hate group. There have been incidents on college campuses of conservatives acting violently, but they are extremists and one cannot possibly generalize those acts to every single conservative in this country. I doubt all progressives are like the rioters at UC Berkeley. Assumptions and generalizations only divide this country as well as the University’s campus.
In short, believe in what you want to believe in. Having an open discussion is great and can help develop an understanding of both sides. I think everyone needs to understand that you probably are not going to change anyone’s mind, but everyone should still have the opportunity to say what he or she believes. Do not let yourselves become victims of political ideologies.