Editors Note: On 12/7/13 additional clarification was sent to The Miscellany News regarding a statement by the author regarding Will Sero ’13 in an article by The National Review Online. This change has been made and we apologize for any confusion it may have caused readers.
Everyone knows there are Republican and Independent students on campus. Who are they? What do they believe? Until now, these students were only an abstraction. Here I will attempt to paint a picture of them.
Some admire the Koch brothers. There are others who believe that laissez-faire capitalism is the ideal social system. There are students who love fossil fuels. There is a core group who study the philosophy of Ayn Rand. There are many who do not blame the “system” when they fail. There are fans of Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt. Most are interested in alternative ideas but feel consistently pressured into silence on a daily basis.
Why don’t we hear from them? They bristle when they see a poster asking in scare-quotes, “Is Your Halloween Costume Racist?” They resent that Student/Labor Dialogue pamphlets go under their private bedroom doors. They blame the activists for creating tensions on campus over non-issues like “able-ism.” They are tired of the Vassar Administration sounding the alarm bell at every stray activist’s urging. They complain to friends, but they are too bewildered to publicly protest.
Today the atmosphere is dire for everyone, not just campus conservatives. After the recent town hall, Dean Chris Roellke commented, “Regretfully, these venues sometimes don’t yield a lot of divergent perspectives and I think we still have more work to do on how to engage more voices and to engage them productively.” (The Miscellany News, “Town Hall incites disagreement,“ 11.20.13) He’s right, but it’s the voices that are heard that’s telling. There is no cultural oppression at Vassar College. Our administration and faculty have failed to teach us that shared governance has to be based on both values and facts. Tom Bridegroom ’06 and his partner were oppressed; the LGBTQ Center is not.
If these loud voices continue to demand that students who have different values than them should not be admitted into the college, we do not have to hear it. If they continue to call for a “Social Consciousness” requirement, we will call it what it is: indoctrination. In June, the New York Post reported the allegedly false rape accusation that resulted in the expulsion of former MICA leader and proud Republican Peter Yu. Now, The Daily Caller reports that Genesis Hernandez allegedly committed and falsely reported bias incidents in order to prevent honest discussion. (“Shocking discovery in hoax bias incident at Vassar College,” 11.27.13) If you subvert facts, you do not achieve your values; you become a fake. How can anyone expect an effective dialogue from this?
In December 2010, libertarian alumna Kelley Shortridge ’12 wrote an op-ed in the Misc entitled “Chronicle to further marginalize conservatives.” Three years later we can assess her claim. In September, the MICA lecture “Fossil Fuels Improves the Planet” was mentioned in Rolling Stone. Last semester, The National Review Online (NRO) reported that the night before the lecture Chronicle editor Will Serio ’13 admitted he asked MICA to pay Alex Epstein the VSA funds not to speak so that they could “avoid the ‘imminent negative campus response’ to Epstein’s talk.” Current Chronicle editor Zack Struver was present that night and verbally supported Serio’s plans. (“What’s the matter with Vassar?” 04.04.13)
Today the VSA blames MICA for alienating students with this lecture and refuses to help fund another MICA lecture. This contrasts with the 80 distinguished intellectuals who have supported the educational value of the lecture in a national open letter against divestment published in Forbes, the National Review and top college syndicates. Meanwhile it’s business-as-usual for the Vassar Greens and the Chronicle. In hindsight, the allegations against the Chronicle in the NRO just seemed to speed up The VSA’s decision to authorize it as an official VSA organization. Do you deserve the company they keep? The novel Atlas Shrugged describes what happens when intelligent people go on strike. It’s also a metaphor for the low town hall attendance. Students shrug because they object to values and demands without evidence:
“There have always been men of intelligence who went on strike, in protest and despair, but they did not know the meaning of their action…the man who is defeated by revulsion, the man who renounces before he has started, the man who gives up rather than give in, the man who functions at a fraction of his capacity, disarmed by his longing for an ideal he has not found—they are on strike, on strike against unreason, on strike against your world and your values. But not knowing any values of their own, they abandon the quest to know…as lovers who never discovered their love.”
This passage is realistic because most students on campus have never read the three women who inspired the modern pro-liberty movement: Ayn Rand, Isabel Paterson and Rose Wilder Lane. They are just tired of activists who are surprisingly unconscious of social repercussions. No, John Galt does not go to Vassar but many honest people do. As a member of the Class of 2014, I have decided to abstain from being in the college yearbook in order to protest the grievances of conservatives I have sketched here. “Love Conquers All” hid an elaborate deception. Love cannot be faked. It has to be real. Values and truth do move the world, but only together.
—Julian Hassan ’14 is a cognitive science major. He is President of the Moderate, Independent, Conservative Alliance (MICA)