Following the election of President Trump, the political expression of those that dissent has become more vocal. There has been an invigoration of the progressive cause that has led to the so called “resistance.”
That raises the question of what the resistance stands against: President Trump or conservatism itself?
The anti-conservative agenda has created an environment where not only those who support the president are vilified, but those who believe in basic conservative principles are clumped into a monolithic group. This is exemplified by an event that occurred Oct. 20 near the Miami University seal. Students for Life, an anti-abortion group, had a display to share the stages of fetal development. Their display was promptly destroyed in broad daylight.
Everyone holds the right to have their own opinion, but under what circumstance does that necessitate being hostile toward another? Students for Life was not hurting or bothering anyone. They were simply displaying their views in a peaceful and respectful manner.
The barrage of anti-conservatism extends to the classroom where a vast majority of the faculty hold liberal beliefs, which is not a problem. But when their beliefs become reinforced in their instruction it creates an obvious conflict of interest.
These are not merely assignments for one to share their opinion on a controversial issue –the objective is to convince and ingrain in the class that these are objective truths. This creates a coercive effect where students are forced to repudiate their beliefs in order to satisfy the professor’s objective. The supposed purpose of higher education is to allow students to explore various points of view and develop an inquisitive instinct, but that is not possible when rational opinions are derided as unjust and wrong.
There is also an immediate stigma placed on those who support many traditional conservative principles which happen to be shared with the President. Because of the coercive effect of politics on the campus environment, the conservative point of view is largely seen as unacceptable.
So where does all of this place the current state of conservatism on campus?
The answer is clear: conservatism has been undermined and will continually be until a change in the administrative structure occurs. According to a study published in Inside Higher Ed, only 4 percent of American liberal arts faculty identify as conservative, while 61 percent identify as liberal. It is reasonable to believe that there are more liberal leanings individuals pursuing careers in academia, but it is foolish to believe that the discrepancy is 15 liberals for every conservative. If conservatism is to be revived on college campuses it will take the efforts of the administration to ensure that all viewpoints are heard, not only the ones to which they agree.
It is important for conservative student groups to supplement the shortage of conservative faculty with speakers who represent their point of view. This would allow for views and opinions that would not be acceptable to a group of university professors to be represented on campus.
Most importantly, it is essential that conservative students share their points of view. Although there may be repercussions, it is essential that these values and principles are discussed. If they are to be kept to oneself while others are allowed to openly share their perspective, it creates the appearance that there is something innately wrong with the viewpoints. If an apolitical student were to listen to the common campus political conjecture, they would believe that progressivism is just and that conservatism poses an existential threat to a host of demographic groups.
This misguided approach cannot and will not change unless conservatives force a change.
Although the current state of conservatism on campus is alarming, all hope is not lost. If conservatives hold to their values and share their beliefs the situation is destined to change. Conservatives must not silence themselves in the current campus climate because there will be no demand for a greater representation of views from the left.
Varun Raghuram, guest columnist