College students who identify as politically conservative say they feel as outcasts on today’s college campuses. Julie Johnson and Sayeh Ahmari report.
“I feel like it is harder to have Republican views, especially on campus. Whenever someone or I discuss Republican views, others are quick to prove you wrong and judge you instantly,” said Mackenzie Shevlin, a junior at the University of Nevada, Reno.
Feeling Stereotyped & Scared
In a series of interviews we conducted, some of them anonymously, students who identify as Republican at the University of Nevada, Reno, said they often feel marginalized and stereotyped to have certain ideologies linked to the Republican party. Students who voted for Republican candidate Donald Trump in the 2016 election also said they feel that college campuses should be a safe place for various political beliefs, but that they don’t feel it always is that way.
Republican-leaning students on campus we spoke to in the run-up to the 2018 midterms also admit to being afraid of presenting their own political beliefs.
Fear was a common word they used when talking about teachers or students bringing up politics in class.
“I was scared what people would do to me or even worse how the teacher would treat me. Later, eight students proclaimed how much they hated Trump and all Republicans. I was sitting right there, that is when I was afraid,” Mackenzie Shevlin, a junior at the University of Nevada, Reno, said.
On multiple occasions students discussed how they felt they are being treated differently. This, they said, can lead to them feeling uncomfortable being in a classroom because of their views.
“Often in class if I bring up anything that is Republican views, teachers end up not liking me after that class. They are quickly to judge me,” Luke Allen, a senior at the University of Nevada, Reno.
Politics in the Student-Professor Dynamic?
Students have had instances that they believe teachers will harm their grade because of it. Student Luke Allen was in a class a year ago where his professor would tell the class that their discussions are open discussions. He assumed by an open discussion that he was able to voice how he felt about an issue. The teacher disagreed with his opinion and told him he was wrong. He was confused on how someone could have a wrong opinion. Shortly after, he says, an essay was due and the professor told him that it was never turned in. Allen then had a student who saw him turn it in be his witness. Immediately after that, he says, she seemed to have found it.
Allen believes this happened because he did not have the same political beliefs as his professor. He did not specifically name the professor in the interview, so we weren’t able to investigate these allegations further.
Even outside of the classroom, some Republican-leaning students on campus believe that this negative stigma follows them when it comes to family members and friends of differing political opinions.
“I have Republican ideals but I am afraid to voice my opinion. I come from a large Hispanic family so my family judges me for my beliefs. I don’t understand why other political parties think it is okay to judge quickly on having different beliefs. I wish people would just get to know me before quickly thinking I’m a bad person.” David De La Rocha, a senior at the University of Nevada, Reno.
Trump’s Policies, and Not Always His Persona
When asked about these challenges, many students who voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 election say they were for his policies and not necessarily endorsing all that he says and does.
“I voted for Trump because of his political plan for the country and what he would do financially for the U.S.. I think people should just focus on a politician’s views and issues rather than personal matters.” a student at the University of Nevada Reno who wanted to remain anonymous said.
“I don’t like saying I'm a Republican because people seem to have a lot of assumptions, so I go with saying I am a conservative” Ben Hughes Senior at the University of Nevada Reno.
Republican-leaning students on campus we spoke to said they generally try to stay away from telling people who they voted for, as they say it can cause an uncomfortable environment.
As some TV cable commentators say, and many of the students we interviewed agreed with, college campuses around the country and especially on the West Coast, seem to have dominant liberal political tendencies among many of their professors and student bodies. This, we found in our interviews, can cause students without these beliefs to feel silenced or even afraid.
Reporting by Julie Johnson and Sayeh Ahmari shared with the Reynolds Sandbox
Original Article: https://medium.com/rsjvote/why-students-at-the-university-of-nevada-reno-are-afraid-to-identify-as-republican-e13588a0f1ba