Conservative College Students Being Oppressed
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If you are a conservative student at a largely liberal school, I'm sorry that it has been an uncomfortable experience for you. I'm sorry if it's been difficult for you to connect with new people or make friends. I'm sorry if there aren't campus clubs or organizations that make you feel represented. I'm sorry if you have encountered people who attempted to silence your right to have your opinions heard.

My empathy ends there.

I don't keep up with the news as much as some people, but I gotta say, I don't ever remember hearing a story about someone getting assaulted, beaten, or murdered because they are a Republican. It's honestly baffling that someone's idea of what oppressed looks like can become so warped that simply facing criticism makes them feel unsafe to just go about their daily lives. It shows how out of touch some college students are with even understanding what it's like to be in an actual marginalized group. It is the literal definition of privilege.

Black Americans are targeted by law enforcement and murdered for doing nothing wrong. LGBTQ individuals face an enormous risk of being rejected by family and friends, being forced into traumatic forms of "therapy," as well as being assaulted or murdered. Transgender women are 4.3 times more likely to be violently murdered than cisgender women, and 87% of transgender people murdered from 2013 to 2015 were people of color.

Physical violence is only the tippy top of the iceberg that is oppression and discrimination in this country.

LGBTQ students, students of color, and students with disabilities are faced with taunts, slurs, and threats on a daily basis.

Sure, people of any racial background, sexuality, or gender identity can be a Republican. That said, most aren't. In 2016, 86% of Republicans and/or conservatives voters were white, versus 57% of Democrats and/or liberals. Along with that, I have yet to see any Republicans who are a person of color and/or LGBTQ writing an article about how difficult it is to be conservative on a majority-liberal campus.

It's easy to say that people bring up issues of race, sexuality, and gender identity just to engage in "identity politics." If that's all you hear when genuinely oppressed people are trying to tell you their stories, you aren't thinking very far out of your own mindset or your own comfort zone. Step back and imagine what it's like to really, actually fear for your life because of a demographic you never chose to be a part of (hint: political parties don't count)!

No one is stifling your free speech by saying they disagree with you, or even that they find your beliefs to be dangerous and/or offensive. All that freedom of speech means is that you have the right to say whatever you want—and it also means that everyone else has the right to tell you why they disagree. Even flat out telling someone that they're a complete idiot is protected by free speech, though it's not very nice.

If you feel unwelcome on your campus, maybe start opening up to the idea that having your ideas criticized is an opportunity to evaluate why you believe what you believe, and what about your beliefs may be inaccurate. This applies to basically everything in life, not just politics.

Being uncomfortable is a sign that your worldview is being called into question. And that is necessary for growth and understanding.

Maybe attending a liberal college will help you strengthen the conservative beliefs you have. Maybe it won't. So stay open-minded! Read articles from news sources you absolutely hate and distrust, just to see what it has to say. Have discussions with people with whom you think you have nothing in common. Put your beliefs to the test.

You and I are both lucky enough to live in a country where people with differing opinions about the government can, and do, coexist. It'd be a shame to let the opportunity of free speech to go to waste, don't you think?

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