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Spease: College is academically and socially easier if you’re a liberal

I began my freshman year at CSU in 2014 as a double major in political science and sociology. Coming out of high school, I loved discussing politics and, because I was student body vice president, I was not afraid to voice my opinion in a crowd. When I came into college I was exited to learn and talk about my interests in class, but this quickly changed after taking Sociology 105 with Eileen Connell. This class taught me that Republicans are not popular in the college of liberal arts.

The professor would bring up a lot of controversial topics that I was not afraid to comment on. I would get rude looks and only had two friends in this class, but it never bothered me because I believed whole-heartedly in everything I said. One day in class, we were discussing the Coca-Cola super bowl commercial which sings America the Beautiful in different languages. She asked if anyone saw anything wrong with this ad and I raised my hand and admitted that I could see why people were angry. Although we do not have a national language, the majority of the country speaks English. The ad seems to suggest that immigrants do not need to learn a different language even if they move to the US. What is most ironic is that the symbol of American capitalism, Coca-Cola, produced the ad.

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It was in this moment that my life flashed before my eyes. A girl two rows behind me who asked me for help on the exam just a few days earlier shouted out that I was stupid. Hands were flying up and my peers were calling me racist and alluding to the idea that I am xenophobic. The professor did not facilitate a fair class discussion and was arguing alongside anyone who was against me. What seemed like an innocent class discussion turned into a 50 versus one debate.

When class ended I assumed the topic would be tabled, but students followed me on my way to my next class, yelling at me for my opinions. That night in the dining hall, two of my peers came up to me and called me ignorant and stupid and walked away when I tried to defend myself. The experience was so traumatic that I began to cry in the dining hall. After that day I refused to walk to class alone and I begged my boyfriend at the time, who was not enrolled in the course, to sit through lecture with me for the next few weeks. I never spoke a conservative word again in that class. I wish I could say this had been an isolated incident, but this experience taught me early why it is much easier to be a liberal in college.

In my U.S. Government and Politics class, I wrote a paper about why I thought the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) was a bad idea. I got an average grade on that paper. Yet when we were required to obtain further research on the matter and turn in a second draft, I decided to flip my lens and turn in a paper raving about the bill. Lo and behold, when I started supporting the liberal bill, my grade improved. Some may argue that I got a better grade because my writing improved, but I did not put in as much work on my second paper as on my first. I did not meet with my teaching assistant before the paper was due, and I just repeated the research I had for the first paper, but flipped my view.

The same thing happened in my comparative Government class. When I started to write papers agreeing with critical theorists like Marx and completely abandoning my conservative opinions, my grades began to improve.

Not only is being a leftist in class much easier, it expands into social settings as well. Most interactions on campus take place outside of the classroom, and I have had the same intolerant experiences.

Since it is an election season, there has been a heavy emphasis on registering to vote and being on one side or the other. Yet the only registration booth I see is covered in democratic candidate signs including Hillary Clinton and Jared Polis. There are post cards with caricatures of Donald Trump on the registration table, and one person was holding a Donald Trump piñata hanging from a noose. This does not send a message that everyone’s vote is important and therefore they should register. This sends the message that your vote is only important if it is for the Democratic Party. Some people may argue that Republicans should set up a table that registers people to vote and they can put their candidates’ signs on the tent. Doing this would require a brave group of people to run that table after the free speech wall put on earlier in October in the plaza was torn down.

Although I do not agree with a lot of liberal views, I have never shouted to another student sharing their opinion that they are stupid or make blanket judgments about them like saying they are racist. Too many conservatives refuse to share their opinions for fear of bad grades and social alienation. It is time students feel comfortable sharing their opinions no matter what their political beliefs are. I wish I could warn my freshman self about the dangers of being a conservative and explain that if you don’t want to be hated, you have to be a liberal.

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Comments (19)

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  • A

    Abigail DaltonNov 9, 2016 at 3:17 pm

    Unfortunately, this is so true. A couple elections ago when I was at CSU I got slanted eyes when I mentioned who I voted for (in response to a classmate asking me), and that was relatively minor. I’m sure it’s much worse now. My fellow conservative millennials, there are more of us out there than we think, and all of us should be more vocal in the interest of preserving the free exchange of thought, which our public universities have largely abandoned.

    Reply
  • W

    WasatchHaoleNov 3, 2016 at 6:42 pm

    Universities need political diversity in their liberal arts programs. They need to actively hire professors that are not liberal. State legislators usually oversee state universities, and should be more vigilant about it.

    Reply
  • M

    Mikey!!Nov 2, 2016 at 2:53 pm

    As a liberal myself, it makes me very angry when these things happen because the very principle that makes one a liberal (i.e., liberalism) is betrayed when open dialog and exchange of ideas is not allowed. The literal definition of being liberal is being “open to new behavior or opinions and willing to discard traditional values.”

    These left-wing people, rather than arguing their points, resort to petty things like calling others “xenophobes” and “bigots”, doing what they can to effectively squash any means of productive discussion. They believe firmly in their mind that they support the righteous cause, and because of that, they are entitled to squash opposition in almost tyrannical form. The irony is delicious.

    I am sorry you experienced these things, but I want you to know that the people you dealt with and the people who fit your description… they are not even proper “liberals.”

    They are regressive, and they hold equally as reactionary views as the people they despise.

    Reply
  • A

    Austin HartleyNov 2, 2016 at 9:03 am

    Maybe now you understand how those that are being oppressed by the policies enacted historically by the Republican party live their everyday lives. Maybe instead of worrying so much about your own personal experience it may help to understand why the Republican party is largely unpopular with anyone that is not white.

    Reply
  • L

    Lauren GossmanNov 1, 2016 at 9:04 pm

    YES! So true! I got lucky in my CO 300 class a few years ago when I wrote a 9 page paper on the failures of Obamacare and got an A. My professor was such a raging liberal but was able to put his opinions aside and saw that I had substantial info and facts to back up my argument. I always kept my mouth shut in my liberal arts classes. It wasn’t worth the fight with 40+ other people. However, I was also fortunate enough to be an Ag student and voice my opinions in my department classes because most of my classmates also agreed.

    As conservative women, we’re looked at as anti-feminist, stupid, ignorant, racist, and whatever else the left can come up with to call us. I wouldn’t dare call my very liberal classmates, friends, and some family members that their opinions are STUPID or WRONG. We may not agree on things, but we’re all entitled to our own opinions.

    Don’t let the Dems getcha down girl! Do your research, stay educated about current election issues, and keep voicing your opinions loud and proud!

    Reply
  • M

    moorelogicNov 1, 2016 at 4:48 pm

    Have conservatives always played the victim role throughout history? Because today’s conservatives have perfected that role….

    Reply
  • L

    Luke FiloretoNov 1, 2016 at 1:37 pm

    Okay but CSU is a liberal school in a primarily liberal city and state. You have to realize that you’re not going to have people that agree with you when you live in a liberal place. If you went to school in the south it would be liberals being discriminated against because it’s a conservative part of the country. “Liberals have it easier in college” is such a broad statement and is literally only applicable to your situation, not every college in the US.

    Reply
    • T

      Tyler RobenNov 1, 2016 at 2:23 pm

      I’m just going to point out a few things wrong with your point. Which is well all of it. Csu is a liberal school, sure I’ll give you that, ignoring the massive ag department that is generally more right leaning and the conservative students referenced in this article who don’t really speak up due to how we are treated (FYI I went to school here for 4 years and agree whole heartedly with what she is saying. I was silenced the same way in funny enough a media ethics class). On to your liberal city and state comment. Sorry Luke you’re wrong again, Colorado is generally a swing state. Not primarily liberal as you said. Last election it eventually went blue (45% Romney 51% Obama) with larimer county being Majority blue but surrounding counties to the east and west going red. I haven’t gone to shool in the south and have reason to believe you haven’t either but I won’t make assumptions as you have. I can tell you from word of mouth from friends at Baylor and Texas a/m (pretty far south) That these schools are also very liberal, college in general just is these days. So sorry Luke “liberals have it easier” isn’t “literally only applicable in her situation” Going out on a whim here and guessing your liberal and have never realized you guys do in fact have it easier in college, but you didn’t think to look outside your safe space on that did you? People not only didn’t agree with her they actually attacked her verbally to the point where she was crying at the dining hall. College is supposed to foster sharing of ideas whether you like them or not and do so with respect. Silencing the other side unfortunately is what happens at csu. In the words of Adele “helloooo from the other side” we deserve a voice too.

      Reply
      • L

        Luke FiloretoNov 1, 2016 at 2:34 pm

        No I completely agree that you guys shouldn’t be treated that way in an academic setting, and that any academic setting should be objective and unbiased. And yes I actually have spent quite a lot of time at southern schools and I can tell you from personal experience that if I spoke up defending liberal ideas in that setting it would be the exact same treatment that you guys got at CSU. So yeah csu is more liberal and many colleges are but her statement is far too much of a blanket statement to be correct in every circumstance, which is why I said that it is applicable only to her situation.

        Reply
        • T

          Tyler RobenNov 1, 2016 at 2:50 pm

          And nor should be treated that way down south, overall it’s a joke that either side has to put up with this in an academic setting. I appreciate the discussion man I wasn’t trying to attack you. Just looking at it from my personal viewpoint

          Reply
          • L

            Luke FiloretoNov 1, 2016 at 2:55 pm

            Yeah no, that was my whole point that both sides have to deal with it, it’s not exclusively a conservative issue. And yeah good chat man, it is a joke anyone has to put up with it in an academic environment.

    • H

      Holly SpeaseNov 1, 2016 at 2:48 pm

      Your point about the south is not true. “Interestingly, the one region that bucks the national liberal trend is not the South (as some might assume) but rather the Rocky Mountain region: Idaho, Montana, Utah, Colorado and Wyoming.” (http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/03/opinion/sunday/there-are-conservative-professors-just-not-in-these-states.html?_r=0)
      In addition, I am not saying I did not expect push back… but no one should be afraid to speak their opinion at any university. I should be able to go to whatever college I want and have my opinion respected.

      Reply
      • L

        Luke FiloretoNov 1, 2016 at 2:57 pm

        Well exactly, I agree you shouldn’t be treated that way, but my point is that it’s not a problem reserved exclusively for conservatives. It can just as easily happen to a liberal student at a conservative school. That was my point.

        Reply
        • H

          Holly SpeaseNov 1, 2016 at 3:06 pm

          I understand that it happens on both sides, but in a study published by the Econ Journal Watch (a scholarly source) faculty registration at 40 leading universities reports democrats outnumber republicans 12:1. If you specifically look at college departments in the history deptartment democrats outnumber republicans the most at 33:1, and in the economics department it’s the lowest at 5:1. So although you may feel ostracized for your views it most likely isn’t at the scale a republican would.

          Reply
          • K

            KennyNov 28, 2016 at 3:27 pm

            You have causation wrong. Democrats outnumber Republicans in universities because the more educated people become the more likely they are to vote democrat. In other words, it’s not the institutions’ fault that there are more liberals than conservatives, it’s just that the more people are exposed to socioeconomic theories as well as the diverse populations you typically find at universities, the less likely they are to vote Republican. http://www.people-press.org/2016/04/26/a-wider-ideological-gap-between-more-and-less-educated-adults/

      • C

        Colton BrownNov 2, 2016 at 6:31 am

        Your opinion never needs to be respected it needs to be put against critical analysis and reanalyzed otherwise you have created a mindset that promotes no growth. The fact that you were able to have a whole class discuss with you for the continued portion of class means that you were continuing to speak as well attempting to change their views (I say this because of how obviously polarizing this was) and to think any real issue would be tabled as a class ends is nonsense. Sensible people can keep those same friends because they are able to keep open conversation and stand behind their ideas enough to hold the scrutiny.

        Reply
  • S

    Steven BNov 1, 2016 at 1:23 pm

    She should have talked to the TA and/or the Prof. If that didn’t yield at least an explanation then a talk to the dept head would have been in order

    Reply
  • A

    Autumn HarmonNov 1, 2016 at 1:02 pm

    I completely agree with this. No matter if your conservative, liberal or anything else you should be able to share your opinions with out fearing the backlash. It is also appalling that the professor did nothing to help the situation.

    Reply
    • C

      Craig ZimmermanNov 1, 2016 at 9:45 pm

      “The professor did not facilitate a fair class discussion and was arguing alongside anyone who was against me.”
      The professor was part of the gang-up that the writer identified.

      When some assert that contrary opinion (i.e. diversity of opinion) is hate speech, the freedom to pursue open inquiry suffers. Open inquiry is a core value in any institute of higher learning.

      Reply