When I applied to colleges my senior year of high school, I got lost in the vast array available. Did I want a small school or large school? How much was I willing to pay for tuition? For months, I struggled to find the answers to these questions. Yet, no matter how many questions I had to answer, I knew one thing: I did not want to end up committing to a school whose ideology leaned far to the Left. However, in March of 2009, I settled upon St. Louis University. Don’t get me wrong, I love my school and would choose SLU again if I had the chance, but its liberal atmosphere is a far cry from the conservative utopia I envisioned during my final weeks at Maur Hill Mount Academy.
I went to a small, Catholic high school in Atchison, Kansas where liberal indoctrination simply wasn’t part of my vocabulary. I had heard stories of pompous Marxist professors, liberal hipster students, and something called “Earth Week,” but I never actually took them seriously. For some reason when I heard about the perils of liberal academia, I simply told myself, “That won’t happen to me.” Boy, was I wrong.
Although I have not had significant difficulty with liberal professors these past two years, my freshman year was a nightmare. During my fall semester, I took a class called Introduction to Sociology. Had I known the professor of this course was a radical feminist, I probably would have dropped the first day. Instead, I spent 16 weeks hearing her drone on about the evils of religion, conservatism, and men. During one class, she had the audacity to compare the Westboro Baptist Church to the Catholic Church, claiming that because of the groups’ mutual opposition to gay marriage, there was no difference between them. My hand shot up immediately and I informed my professor that I grew up 45 minutes from the Westboro Baptist Church’s home base in Topeka, Kansas. Every theology teacher that I had ever had reviled the actions of the radical “church.” When I informed my sociology professor of this important tidbit, she cocked her head, smiled, and responded in her usual passive-aggressive manner, “Isn’t it funny how it works out like that sometimes?” To this day, I’m still not quite sure what she meant by that, but I felt rebuffed and insulted all the same.
Later that year, I was “blessed” to take a Theology 100 course from a professor who went on weekly rants about his hatred of Glenn Beck, Republicans, and conservatism. During one class, he even mentioned how he had a conservative friend who was “just to the right of Hitler.” When my friend and I dared to quote Ronald Reagan in a paper, we were both graded down 12% for “improper citations,” despite the fact that other students who had quoted other figures similarly had not received such a demerit.
I quickly found that the liberal atmosphere at SLU did not halt at the doorway of the classroom. Left-leaning policies are indicative of all aspects of the university. Every fall, the Rainbow Alliance hosts “Homocoming” to celebrate gay rights and hosts a “Coming Out Week” every year. During April, we have an “Earth Week” in which the University is decked out with signs proclaiming the dangers of global warming. During my freshman year, the anti-military, environment-worshipping film Avatar was screened to students. In all honesty, I don’t really care if my university hosts these events or not. However, there is a clear double-standard in place. While gay rights and environmental justice are praised, more conservative ideas are rebuked. Every time I’ve spoken up with sentiments supporting traditional marriage or questioning global warming, I’ve been harshly rebuked by my fellow students. I’ve been called a racist, homophobe, and science-denier too many times to count.
Many speakers I have seen at SLU, such as Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, have been engaging and enlightening. However, I cannot say that about all everyone. I’ve had the “pleasure” to witness others like Cornel West and Tim Wise grace us with their presences. I have no problem with SLU inviting liberal speakers to campus so long as all campus groups are given an equal shot at hosting a speaker. While West and Wise were praised by students and faculty alike, conservative David Horowitz was rejected after being invited by the College Republicans my freshman year. According to the administration, he was too “controversial.” In this case, perhaps “controversial” is a code word for “conservative.”
From liberal professors to radical campus speakers, I’ve seen it all at SLU. Initially, I felt rejected and alone as a conservative. However, now I see my college experience differently. I was so frustrated with the backlash I felt for holding a minority opinion that I starting writing about it, and had to educate myself about the hot button issues I confronted. I can honestly say that I seek to be university educated and self-educated. Thus, I encourage all young conservatives to keep fighting.