College is a time for you to discover who you truly are. It is a time for you to decide what kinds of people you belong with, what subjects you would like to study, and what you could see yourself doing for the rest of your life. Your first semester is the most important and the most difficult. You’re trying to adjust to your workload while also trying to make friends. If you’re a conservative on a leftist college campus, the last thing you want to tell people is something like not supporting single-payer healthcare or how partial-birth abortions make you cringe because all you hear when you walk around is how heartless people like you are. But you’re trying to make friends, so you stay quiet and let them insult you, and maybe at times bully you.

Due to the harsh political atmosphere that colleges around the United States have taken up, modern Republicans have shown their concerns about getting a college degree today, afraid that they will be silenced in class discussions or forced to change their viewpoints just so they can get along with people. According to a recent study from the Pew Research Center, about 58% of Republicans and more right-wing independents think that colleges and universities in the U.S. are not having a positive effect on the country today.Some Republicans no longer feel that they should send their children to these institutions due to the idea that their children will become “brainwashed by the liberal agenda.” This is a phrase I hear all too often. As a conservative college student, I think that this is a poor approach for the right to take on this issue. Knowledge is power. The whole point of college is to open your mind and challenge your beliefs no matter what they might be. Yes, your opinions may not be modified all that much by time you get your diploma. If anything, the beliefs you have may be more firm because they were challenged so many times, and if you don’t want your values to be questioned at all ever then maybe college (or even the real world) isn’t for you. Ben Shapiro, a political commentator and author, spoke at Hillsdale College in 2016, tying in his personal experiences with how conservatives can actually benefit from the behavior of the Left, and the link to view that is below:

Believe it or not, the type of environment that leftist college campuses are creating is more harmful to liberals than conservatives because they are getting constant validation from other students and faculty members that their viewpoints do not ever need to be questioned. This is a terrible way to make future generations think because they never really learn how to take criticism. In spring of 2016, Samuel Abrams, a professor at Sarah Lawrence College in New York analyzed data from the Higher Education Research Institute and found that colleges in the Northeast have way more liberal professors than conservative professors with a ratio of 28:1. This can cause a very hostile atmosphere for conservatives because it can make the liberal students look down on their peers who are not the same as them.

In 2015, Cameron K. Khansarinia, a Harvard student from the Class of 2018, expressed his experience being a moderate Republican in The Harvard Crimson. He elaborated on the tension he feels in the classroom often, stating that “at times I’ve changed what I’ve written in essays so that it can fall in line with what I think is the professor’s ideology.” Personally, I find this to be a huge problem. As a conservative and a constitutionalist, I strongly believe in free speech, so I do not believe that a way to fix this is to have a quota for conservative professors in institutions so that they can be more equally represented. The personal political opinions of a professor should never be forced down students’ throats. This forces the students to think in a certain box, so they have to worry about their grade rather than having an open discussion. The whole purpose of college besides getting a job is to have intellectual stimulation, not encouraging the “my way or the highway” attitude. A suggestion I have is for professors to play devil’s advocate, show both sides of the equation, and ask students what they think about the facts and opinions that are presented to them.

Political polarization is far more damaging to our society than compromise.

This is what leftist college campuses are doing whether they realize it or not. Identity politics has become the foundation for most political arguments. Conservatives are seen as white supremacists Nazis even though that is not what conservatism is. It would be like saying that liberals are potheads who riot in the streets. No, that is not what liberalism is.

To anyone who is reading this, I want you to know that if anyone makes it clear to you that they will not be your friend solely because of your political opinions, they weren’t worth having in the first place. Trust me when I say that there is no time in college to deal with people like that. Believe it or not, a person can disagree with you and still be a pretty cool person to hang out with, given that they are not extremists on either side. I have grown up with and met so many interesting people in my life that have disagreed with me on politics but still valued me as a person. Don’t let anyone bully you or call you vile things without evidence because that makes them evil. Not you.

To anyone who doesn’t want to be “brainwashed,” do your research. Learn why both sides feel differently about a certain topic. Learn as much as you possibly can. Read books and lots of them about the crazy geniuses and the silent thinkers whether you initially agree with them or not. Challenge yourself and be open-minded. Understand what your core values are. Again, knowledge is power, and with knowledge, you will never need someone to think for you.