By Matthew Rosen
A couple weeks ago, I attended an event on campus where a panel talked about free speech at Binghamton University. The main talking point of the event was about the struggle of protecting freedom of speech while also creating a safe and comfortable environment for students. After the event, they had a question and answer session where students clearly took the side of Team Comfortable. They wondered, “Why we can’t defund the Binghamton Review?” Students from minority groups on campus told of their struggle of not feeling safe or comfortable on campus. Unfortunately, because these students were rude, hostile, and constantly disruptive, I was unable to ask my question. So I figured I would ask it now:
“You have all been talking about making a campus environment that is safe and comfortable for all students. Why haven’t you talked at all about protections for conservative students? You’ve been referring to the possibility of censoring offensive conservative speech, but don’t we get to feel comfortable on our own campus as well?”
The reason I ask this question is because people often forget that conservatives on a college campus are also a minority. I personally feel just as uncomfortable, if not more so, as other minorities on campus do. Sharing my political views has made me lose friends, gotten me yelled at, and even got me in trouble with professors. I have effectively been silenced in public at Binghamton University. Just last week, someone who I was relatively friendly with, learned that I write for the Binghamton Review, and now will not associate with me anymore. Other times, I tried to make new friends on campus. Just seeing my Facebook page or even hearing that I was Republican made them immediately sigh and give me nervous looks. I also decided to wear my Trump hat on election day, and couldn’t help but feel uneasy because of the threatening looks that numerous other students were giving me. I’ve been yelled at on facebook and in person for not only being a Trump supporter, but also a Republican. On top of this, Binghamton Review property often gets vandalized and its members labeled as Nazis. This list of hostile and unfair events could go on for a long time.
I am not trying to make it seem like I am “oppressed.” That word gets carelessly thrown around a lot, and it just isn’t true. But when I’m sitting in a room packed with students and faculty who are all clapping for the idea of shutting down the Binghamton Review, an organization I’m proudly a part of, how am I not supposed to feel uncomfortable? I find it quite ironic that students of minority races or sexualities are getting passionate about feeling comfortable on campus, yet in the same breath try to shut conservatives down, censor us, and make us feel ostracized on campus. For all the people involved in this hypocrisy, I have two quick points to make. One: you have the right to feel relatively comfortable on campus, but don’t we deserve that as well? And two: no one in Binghamton Review, College Republicans, or College Libertarians wants to “oppress” you. None of us are racist, sexist, homophobic, or any other “-ist” or “-phobic.”
Another problem on campus is with the predominantly liberal staff. I was introduced to this issue right before my first day at Binghamton. I ran into a former student who graduated as a political science major. She was a Republican, and warned me to keep my mouth shut in class, and to write papers that lean towards liberal ideas as to not anger teachers. This former student told me that professors would lower grades simply because they didn’t like a conservative argument.
I have done my best to keep to this advice, but writing liberal papers is near impossible for me to do. One time I had to write a paper describing whether I would vote for or against a specific bill if I was in Congress. I wrote that I would vote against it because it mandated businesses to give certain free services, which I believe to be unconstitutional. In another paper I wrote that the Citizens United v. FEC case was decided correctly, agreeing with the position of Antonin Scalia. Both professors argued that I “did not have an argument,” and lowered my grade. I challenged both teachers, but neither cared, no matter how much I explained my legitimate argument. I have had professors who openly laughed at conservative ideas and tried to make me feel stupid for believing America is a close to perfect democracy. I even had one professor who religiously made fun of Trump for 30-40 minutes every class before even getting to the course material. As I am writing this article, I have a reading assignment that is a Vox article about the dark, authoritarian Presidency of Donald Trump and his racist supporters. This is getting out of hand, and I’m sick of it.
A new study from the National Association of Scholars was done to show just how politically biased universities are. Data collected from 51 of the top universities in the country showed that the ratio of faculty registered as Democrat to those registered Republican is 12.7 to 1. The research “found that nearly 40 percent of the colleges in the study had zero faculty members who were registered Republican. Not a single one. Nearly 80 percent of the 51 colleges had so few Republican faculty members that they were statistically insignificant.”
So I will ask again: How are conservative students supposed to feel comfortable on a college campus? How are we supposed to feel comfortable being ourselves and speaking our mind? Neither liberals nor conservatives should be labeled or censored, and both should have their freedom of speech protected. No student should start with the preconception that conservatives are a “backwards” and offensive group. Going to college is supposed to expose you to new ideas, including ideas that you don’t agree with. All I ask is that we can share our views without being dehumanized. All I ask is that you judge me and my friends based on our personalities, not our political views. All I ask is that you let me walk around my campus and feel comfortable, regardless of what I believe.