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Frankly Speaking No. 2: Are conservatives marginalized at Stanford?

Last week, Frankly Speaking, a crowd-sourced Opinions column, asked the Stanford community to weigh in on the question: Are conservatives marginalized at Stanford? Published below are four notable answers we received.

When reading these responses, some context you might consider can be found in the following Daily articles: Faculty Senate Discusses Role of Hoover Institution on Campus (Feb 8, 2019), Turning Point USA Chapter claims to bring a softer voice to Stanford conservatives (Jan 23, 2019), Stanford College Republicans navigate Trump, friction with mainstream liberalism and their own future (March 15, 2018)

Janelle Terry

“Marginalized” does not even come close to the experience of a conservative at Stanford. Silenced, demonized and alienated are perhaps more fitting.

I never thought I was conservative until I got to Stanford. My experience with the radically liberal campus climate, as well as the implicit and explicit quashing of deviating ideas, pushed me farther right than I ever expected.

From the hypocritical intolerance of different perspectives to the hypersensitivity to anything different (and therefore automatically offensive) to the presumptive and inappropriate political commentary made by Stanford professors in classrooms, conservatives are marginalized.

A few months ago, I was dumped by two of my closest friends at Stanford after voicing a conservative opinion they felt offended by. Rather than take the opportunity to understand how someone they knew could believe things they attributed only to white men in rural regions, rather than consider for a moment that a woman of color like me could have a conservative opinion, rather than thinking twice before mindlessly discarding years of friendship in favor of dictated labels the “friends” I had shown nothing but love and care to dropped me immediately.

So, frankly speaking, yes, conservatives are marginalized. Frankly speaking, liberals on campus blindly participate in the very ignorance, marginalization, and intolerance they accuse of conservatives. Frankly speaking, if you are reading this and you are conservative, you have two choices: suffer silently or live a (brave) but permanently alienating experience being your true self.

Josh Nkoy

At a campus with the famous Hoover Institute and multiple, hard-working conservative student organizations that carve out a very loud voice for themselves on campus, I feel like the “issue” of marginalizing conservative views on campus barely is one at all. I feel that one of the most overlooked communities at Stanford are ones reaching moderates, independents and people who like to judge things on what they research and discuss (note: NOT argue) with others; I feel they are pressured by the culture of Stanford to pick black and white ideologies rather than judge for themselves what they agree on issue by issue. By the way, this mentality is far from just political: it also inhibits the bridging between the technology- and humanity-specialized groups on campus save a small few interdisciplinary programs, the discourse between and about religion and religious groups on campus and the virtual invisibility in which middle-class Stanford students dwell in the much-needed discussion about privilege on campus, for fear of identifying with life experiences that are not specifically theirs — and so many more examples. At the present, “open-mindedness” is a concept most misused, misunderstood and hypocritically disregarded in terms of our political AND non-political discourse on campus. However, I hope to see that the small changes in the way we cooperate with each other accelerate our strides in bridging these gaps into a jog toward a more cohesive Stanford where being opinionated and open-minded no longer is mutually exclusive.

Jacob Nierenberg

The question of whether conservatives are marginalized, at Stanford or anywhere, is both ironic and infuriating. Ironic, because it suggests that conservatives—who have marginalized others on the basis of gender, race and sexual orientation throughout American history—fear being marginalized themselves. Infuriating, because they have never been dehumanized or persecuted in the way that they have dehumanized and persecuted Black and queer Americans.

No, conservatives at Stanford are not marginalized, and when a group like Stanford College Republicans claims that they are, it’s because the Stanford student body refuses to merely accept SCR’s actions without confronting them. On campus, SCR undermines student elections by doing “opposition research” on critical candidates and sabotaging them with misleading endorsements. The group regularly promotes conspiracy theories and right-wing propaganda from Breitbart News and Dinesh D’Souza on its Facebook page. It’s even waged smear campaigns against professors and fellow students, who received death threats from SCR’s followers. Much like our current president, SCR is pugnacious, conceited and deplorable; the group’s behavior is a blight on campus politics. If this is how conservatives at Stanford act, why would anyone want to engage with them?

It’s one thing to be marginalized for the color of your skin, for reading a different holy book or for loving who you love. But if your actions and your beliefs make you an ally to racists, sexists and bigots, don’t be surprised if everyone else wants nothing to do with you. That’s not marginalization—if anything, it’s self-preservation.

Aaron Han

Conservatives at Stanford are absolutely marginalized. Being conservative isn’t wrong per se, yet the campus community makes it feel that it is. Even if the matter at hand is a morally ambiguous or debatable subject, there always seems to be a mainstream stance that everyone expects you to have. If you don’t agree with it, then you’re condemned as immoral and unintellectual.

In my opinion, issues like abortion, immigration, taxes on corporations/the wealthy, Israeli-Palestinian conflicts and the importance and measurement of diversity can be a subject of heated debate where both sides have very reasonable, substantial arguments. Despite this, many liberals on campus seem to believe that only their side of the argument is morally sound.

Conservative organizations on campus such as Stanford College Republicans have not really helped the reputation of conservatives on campus with their simply unsophisticated antics, however. As much as I agree with some of their stances, it’s difficult to see eye-to-eye with how they get them across to the campus audience. Their provocativeness seems to be for the sake of being provocative, which isn’t to say that it’s unnecessary to get a conservative opinion on the Daily front page.

Frankly Speaking is aimed at extending discourse and debate on important subjects beyond Daily staffers. We want to hear from students across disciplines and social identities about their unique takes on campus news and culture.

If you want to have your take on campus news published in The Daily, contribute to the next edition of Frankly Speaking at http://bit.ly/255FranklySpeaking.

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