“It’s OK that conservatives don’t feel welcome”.
That was the headline of an op-ed piece in the Washington University in St. Louis student newspaper published last month.
“Conservative ideas do not deserve equal consideration to that afforded liberal and left ideas, because conservative ideas are not equal to liberal and left ideas.”
Would the author, Sean Lundergan, support Donald Trump’s recent statement on enforcing free speech on campus? I reached out, and I haven’t received a response.
No one can say Sean Lundergan didn’t exercise his first amendment to full effect.
Two and a half weeks later, this happened on the University of California Berkeley campus:
A conservative activist on campus physically attacked by a man who disagreed with his views.
The two events aren’t related; but they lend credence to something we already knew: college campuses are hostile to conservatives.
Both WUSL’s and UCB’s campuses are overwhelmingly left-leaning. At the WUSL campus, conservatives only make up 8% of the student population in their recent survey. At UCB, it could be even less.
We wanted to know what students across the United States thought of their school’s political climate, so we asked 1500 of them.
Here’s what stood out:
1. Less than half of Republicans feel welcome on college campuses
Less than half of Republicans feel they’re welcome on campus. Democrats and moderates know their school isn’t very welcoming for Republicans too.
But conservative students aren’t the only cohort that feels unwelcome on campus – their allies do too. Right-leaning speakers face disinvitation attempts coming from the left of the speaker 2x as likely as left-leaning speakers, according to a 16-year study by Heterodox Academy.
Conservatives function in an environment where forces on campus are trying to mute them, from facing disinvitation attempts to outright censorship.
According to a Harvard poll, 60% of Democratic students say they feel they can share their opinions on campus “without fear of censorship or negative repercussions,” whereas only 25% of Republican students can say the same.
2. 37.5% of Republicans say they feel unsafe on campus
The incident at UC Berkeley isn’t unheard of. News of conservatives on college campuses getting attacked for their political views make the airwaves frequently enough to make conservatives think twice about exercising their freedom of speech.
When Allison Stanger, a professor at Middlebury College, was physically assaulted to the point where she had to wear a neck brace after her live discussion event, it warned conservatives that they are not safe.
It’s no surprise, then, that more than 1/3 of conservatives don’t feel safe on campus.
3. 55.1% of Republicans don’t tell their friends about their political views
The fear of being cast with damning labels and feeling ostracized is a genuine fear for conservatives on campus. It’s also why 55.1% of Republicans are closet conservatives who don’t tend to share their political orientation with their friends.
For Democrats, being part of a college campus that mostly shares their views could be what contributes to feeling accepted in inner and wider circles.
According to research from the Pew Research Center, liberals are more likely to unfriend you over politics – online and offline.
It shows Republicans and Democrats share very different social lives on campus. Republicans have to suppress their voice to feel accepted, while the Democrats can speak without thinking twice.
4. 35% of Republicans feel their student government seats were elected with a political bias
Conservatives tend to believe the seats on student government were elected with a political bias 14% more than their liberal peers. Most students aren’t quite sure on both parties.
This has been a point of concern for conservative groups because student government bodies are the conduit for student groups to get funding. Sometimes student governments are the determining factor between a guest speaker being invited or not.
5. Republicans are 2x more likely to want to transfer schools after a political encounter than Liberals
Political encounters on campus for conservatives are particularly distressing because the ammunition used against them are more sharp and damning.
“Racist”, “misogynist”, “bigot” – Labels and over-generalized assumptions of the makeup of their character are part of the package leveled against conservatives.
The distress that comes from political encounters for campus conservatives lead them to think about transferring schools three times more than their liberal peers.
If campus conservatives didn’t believe they have the numbers stacked against them, at least they ought to know the political makeup of college professors: Democratic professors outnumber Republican professors 10 to 1.
Digging deeper, research has shown 52% of students have said their professors or course instructors express their own unrelated social or political beliefs “often” in class.
For conservative students, It would be unwise to believe their professors wouldn’t let their political preference affect their grading.
What’s worrying is the endangerment conservatives on campus face for holding their political views. In the pursuit of their own political aims, the left has resorted to libelous claims, intimidation and unlawful use of violence against the right.
55.1% of campus conservatives say they’re too scared to speak or show their political identity to even their friends. Even if they don’t want to admit it– that’s terror.
Based on survey data collected from 1500 US college students across 207 different schools. 441 males and 1091 females participated in the survey. Students were engaged on social platforms. 814 identified as first-year students, 347 as second-year, 187 as third-year, 111 as fourth-year and 41 as 5th year or grad. This survey was conducted from March 4th to March 6th.
Author – Jerry Zheng: jerry @ oneclass . com