In a perfect world, students of all different shapes, sizes, colors and beliefs would coexist in peace and mutual respect. Unfortunately, the world is not perfect.
Conservative columnist Jeff Jacoby says that there is “less diversity of opinion than ever,” and this is especially true on college campuses. This makes it a challenge for anyone with a differing mindset to feel like they fit in, and it especially makes it difficult for them to feel comfortable enough to speak out about their beliefs.
According to an article from The Atlantic, written by staff contributor Conor Friedersdorf, “almost a quarter of conservative students reported being more than slightly concerned that peers would file a complaint against them for speech related to a class they are in together.”
In a rapidly liberalizing society, conservative opinions cannot be voiced without some type of consequence — be it academic or social. These conservative mindsets just “aren’t welcome in certain parts of society where woke liberalism has replaced the tradition of a free exchange of ideas.”
The sad truth is that conservatives can face social consequences like isolation if they speak freely and openly about their beliefs. TikTok user @riannasun receives a large amount of backlash for no other reason than her conservative content. On a video that she posted of herself singing, someone commented, “Since you’re pursuing music, maybe get out of political stuff?” Comments like this one suggest that having conservative views would hold her back from a successful musical career.
Karin A. Lips, a writer for the Orange County Register, discusses the shocking finding of a survey conducted by the Cato Institute in her article. This survey shows that — of 2,000 conservative Americans over the age of 18 — 77% of them choose to censor their political views in school. The self-censorship also appears to get more severe as these students climb the educational ladder. Lips writes, “The higher an American rises in academia, the more likely she will self-censor her views if she is a conservative.”
Although the imbalance of political views on college campuses has reached an all-time high, this is not a new issue. For years now, conservative students have found that there is a bias against them in schools because the majority of both students and faculty are liberals.
In fact, a survey that was conducted in 2018 showed that of about 900 administrators, liberals outnumber conservatives 12 to 1. According to The Harvard Crimson, only 1.5% of Harvard faculty identify as either “conservative” or “very conservative.” This type of “political monoculture” creates an environment that is not conservative-friendly and poses an issue for conservative students who wish to pursue higher education.
And while a teacher’s political perspective should not cause problems in the classroom, there are occasions in which this can happen. Many conservatives in colleges feel as though they need to self-censor in the classroom because they believe their liberal professors will knock down their grades if they speak out about their conservative beliefs.
William Mayer, a Northeastern University political science professor, says that on one occasion, a student even came to seek help when her grade unrightfully suffered after she submitted an assignment in which she expressed her conservative views.
We want to believe that people do not judge others based on their political perspectives, but this is just not the case. In a survey, 92% of conservatives said they would not have a problem with having a liberal friend: “Among liberals, however, almost a quarter said they would not have a conservative friend.” Sadly, this ideology goes beyond friendships.
“Over 90 percent of Trump-supporting academics wouldn’t feel comfortable sharing their views with a colleague, and 85 percent of their Democratic colleagues agree that Trump supporters should stay silent.”
And, even more horrifyingly, a list experiment found that four out of 10 American academics would not hire someone who openly supports Trump, and between one-fifth and one-half of academics would “mark a right-leaning grant application lower.”
One huge issue with teachers and other students being biased against conservative students is that it may dissuade smart and capable students with conservative beliefs from pursuing higher education.
These statistics are shocking and saddening. However, Jeff Jacoby has an interesting take on why this could be going on. Jacoby believes that the media is strongly biased and does not acknowledge it. The media portrays the “left” to be the “center,” which leaves impressionable minds under the belief that the “right” is a lot more extreme than it is.
When the media does not portray a diverse set of political beliefs, it leads people to believe that there is only one “right” set of perspectives. Especially when all the most popular celebrities and corporations are backing one political viewpoint, it becomes difficult to stray from the mainstream point of view.
According to a study, between the years of 2000 and 2016, college students have become less tolerant of differing views on controversial topics. While people used to be able to coexist in a peaceful land of disagreement, they now go to war over the slightest of dissenting beliefs.
There is one terrifying consequence looming over us if students continue to grow less tolerant; if students continue to prize “emotional safety over academic freedom, this bodes ill for the future of free expression in the scholarly community.”
Really think about it. A society in which everyone has the same political beliefs and anyone who strays from these beliefs is eaten alive by fellow community members … Sounds a lot like the plot for a scary book about some type of dystopian society. We may still be far from this, but if a strong majority of conservative students feel the need to censor their beliefs in school, then it may mean that we are getting closer to this extreme than we should be.
While it is true that not only conservatives feel the need to self-censor, an overwhelming majority of those who reported censoring themselves are conservative. Let’s start working on building up our tolerance for those who have different beliefs, liberals and conservatives alike. Instead of fearing different beliefs, let’s learn to embrace our differences. Let’s choose to learn how to have meaningful debates instead of storming off into safe rooms. Most importantly, let’s choose to respect people of all shapes, sizes and political perspectives. Let’s be better. Let’s make America great again, in terms of tolerance and acceptance.