Campus in need of new mindset

We are bigots. We may not be as homopho­bic, or racist, or transphobic, or sexist, or Islamophobic, or anti-Semitic as the majority of colleges in the United States, but nevertheless we are bigots. We may want to believe that we have overcome the great hurdles of prejudice to create a tolerant and accepting community, but we have not. That is because, unless you’re left-of-center, you’re not welcome at Vassar.

When discussing conservatism, we have cre­ated an “us” versus “them” mentality. We view student organizations such as the Vassar Conser­vative Libertarian Union with suspicion and, oc­casionally, open hostility. We turn even the most moderate Republican into a Ben Carson or a Ted Cruz. We fail to distinguish between conserva­tives and extremists. We fail to look beyond the ideological divide to find common ground.

We view the VCLU in particular as a threat to our safety, even though they are an uninfluential minority. They hold no clout with the VSA, were unable to avoid their own suspension, and even after they showed that they were not informed about said suspension until well after the deadline to appeal had expired, they were unable to garner enough votes to suspend the bylaws so that they could go before the judicial board, as is their right.

And yet, there are certain Vassar students who believe that the mere existence of conservatives on campus is a threat to their very well-being. They associate today’s VCLU with the worst of the Republican Party. We make the conscious de­cision as a community to treat all Republicans as if they were birthers or national socialists.

This perception does not match the reality of this year’s leadership within the Vassar Conser­vative Libertarian Union. The VCLU does not openly condemn homosexuals. It does not bomb abortion clinics. It does not pray for death of Su­preme Court justices. It doesn’t question Presi­dent Obama’s birth certificate.

It merely exists, and its members just discuss conservative issues and spread their beliefs. We hate them not because they are evil or ignorant or bigoted, but because they challenge our percep­tion of Vassar being a unanimously liberal space.

I would challenge the idea that we should seek universal liberalism on campus. A politically homogeneous environment to the point where conservatives fear the expression of their beliefs is not conducive to an education. We are here to expand our horizons, not to have it confirmed to us that everything we ever knew is true.

Firstly, Vassar must learn to respect conserva­tives as people. We don’t need to respect others’ ideals, but we need to acknowledge that everyone has a right to their own point of view. We don’t need to respect their opinions, but we need to re­spect them as people.

Secondly, Vassar must recognize the impor­tance of dissent. At present, dissent is limited so that it still fits within our collective understanding of right and wrong.

Obviously, we do not need to tolerate outright bigotry. A person who says that homosexuals de­serve the death penalty is a lunatic, and should be ostracized. Outside of a person directly calling for the harming of others, however, we ought to show a certain level of courtesy. We learn more by dis­cussing differing points of view than by dismiss­ing dissent as bigotry.

Thirdly, Vassar must acknowledge and respect that the VCLU has as much a right to exist as the Vassar Democrats. This means that we have to understand that it still has a right to express its points of view. We need to acknowledge that it is an important element of life here. and that not ev­eryone is a progressive.

This is not just a Vassar problem. It is occurring at colleges throughout the United States. When progressives gain an overwhelming majority in any community, it is followed with an assumption that everyone starts with the same ideological and political philosophy. This leads to a society where progressivism is privileged. And, frankly, I think it’s time Vassar checked its privilege.

2 Comments

  1. Reading the editorial on trigger warnings, perhaps the conservatives and libertarians ought to demand that any progressive idea which offends their sensibilities and causes them mental anguish should be properly labeled with trigger warnings.

    Some examples…

    Trigger Warning: Forcing the wealthy to shoulder society’s financial burden.
    Trigger Warning: Having your civil liberty of firearms ownership oppressed.
    Trigger Warning: Being forced to violate one’s own religious beliefs.

    the list goes on and on.

  2. As someone who leans Right, this article resonates with me.

    Do you know how tiresome it is to hide my political and economic beliefs as to not upset the fragile bleeding hearts of the Liberals and the proto-socialists in Vassar(and any other college that suffers a similar issue).

    Here’s some facts about me:
    I’m a corporatist first, capitalist second.
    I don’t care about the fates of anyone outside our country. America first. Civic nationalism and patriotism first. Fixing the issues of countries across the globe is always second.
    Unions are terrible. Leftists who enable Unions are terrible.
    People, including myself, are entitled to anything. We do not deserve national healthcare any more than we deserve a free hot tub.
    GMOs are good, preferable to natural food even. Fossil fuels are good. Nuclear energy is good.
    Bernie Sanders is a senile idiot.
    I support out foreign policy and military spending. The truth is there are a number of countries who are too inept to manage their own security and defense. Autonomy is a privilege, and many of the countries we have a presence in haven’t earned that privilege. Not one bit.
    The NSA and it’s surveillance apparatus is absolutely necessary. Snowden was a traitor.
    Guantanamo and every other black site we have are absolutely necessary.
    That deceitful brother of a terrorist, Mohamedou Ould Slahi, should have not been allowed to step one foot onto Vassar’s property.
    The benefit of a business is more important than the benefit of the individual. If the individual was smart, they would have never gotten to the point where their interests are at odds with a massive business or corporation.
    The Free Market is inherently the best option, so long as it doesn’t conflict with the interests of corporations.
    Most socialists have no idea what they’re talking about. They’re idealists or have an obsessive and destructive faith in the Government to regulate things.
    We are not, and have never been Europe. We do not want to be Europe. That continent is burning and imploding under the weight of it’s own welfare.
    Corporatism is the future of this nation, and the sooner the public accepts that, the sooner we can move on to other issues.

    If anyone is offended by this list, just remember I have a headache every time I have to listen to some wide eyed idealist from a Liberal college preach their grand utopia of a future.

    Again, great article.

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