Recently, there has been a lot of talk about the state of conservatism on campus. As a recent graduate of Western Washington University, I want to use this opportunity to share some thoughts and advice on how conservatives can survive on campus.
My first bit of advice to any conservative college student would be to keep track of your passport at all times, I almost lost mine in Victoria, and no conservative wants to be stuck in Canada.
In all seriousness, at Western, on the lawn in front of the Communications Facility are The Stairs to Nowhere and for many conservatives, this can seem like an all too appropriate metaphor. We are always climbing up an endless hill against left-wing administrators, professors, and classmates.
At times you wonder what’s the point?
Professors Are People Too
My first piece of real advice is in how you relate to your professors. Do not judge all professors by the bad apples that make headlines. Yes, some of them are nothing more than activists with PhDs, but most are not. Some will grade you down for wrongthink, but most will not. Yes, some of them are actual communists, terrorist apologists, and other unsavory types, but most are not, at least in political science departments. As much as we conservatives may not like to admit it, professors are people too. Remember: before you go creating a list of wrongthinkers, you may need to get them to write you a letter of recommendation one day.
This does not mean you should be afraid to challenge your professors or administration. I started writing for TCC 3 and 1/2 years ago after taking a class with a professor who thinks Hamas are the good guys. As a result of taking that class, my opinion was not changed, but I now know more about the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict than I did before. The bigger problem is not in our relationship as conservative student and hard-left professor, but that the for the rest of the class it was like being in an echo chamber.
Impress The Left
Speaking of students on the left side of the aisle, perhaps a reason why 55% of Dartmouth Democrats (as opposed to 12% of Republicans) said a person with opposite political views would make them less likely to befriend them is because they have never met anybody with conservative opinions. The only conservative they know is the caricature they have in their head. For us, it is hard to imagine going through over 20 years of life and not knowing anybody on the opposite side of the political spectrum, but for students on the left this is a very real possibility. You may be the only voice on the right they hear.
Therefore, you need to make a good impression. You probably will not change their minds, but you can make them think, or you could plant a seed in their mind that might take a while to grow. At the very least they might get to see that people to the right of Hillary Clinton are not racists, sexists, or any of the others pejoratives they call us.
You cannot change your whole campus, but you may be able to change one or two people and that is how the process of eroding the left-wing monopoly on campus begins, not by trolling the precious snowflakes. Not every student on the left melts like a snowflake when their beliefs are challenged. Like professors, certain students make national headlines and people like us write about them because we do need to challenge things like the increasing presence of speech codes and silencing of wrongthink by activist professors or the mob. If someone is offended by your beliefs, then there is nothing you can do.
That person probably is a lost cause, but the point of being politically incorrect is to argue for an unpopular truth, not to trigger the libs for trigerring’s sake.
Relax, Enjoy Yourself
Finally, enjoy your college experience. If I could go back in time and tell my freshman self anything, it would be to relax and try to enjoy yourself. The previously mentioned class was one reason why the first quarter of my college life was rather unpleasant. I wanted college to be over less than two months after it even started.
Four years later, I have made friends that I would never have met otherwise and can look back on some of the best times of my life. To this I owe a special thanks to my friends and the staff at Campus Christian Fellowship who helped me start to live out what I always knew to be true intellectually, but was more difficult to apply: that there are more important things to life than politics. Having a life outside of politics is critical for everyone, student or otherwise. Once you realize that, it will help alleviate your stress, and perhaps the bitterness you have towards your more left-wing professors, co-workers, and classmates.