Staying Conservative on Campus

Conservative Campus

A look at what Vermont College students are thinking in their own words

by Gerhard Meyer, Senior, St. Michael’s College

For many High School seniors, this is an important and usually tense time of year. Acceptance letters from the colleges of their choice are highly anticipated. Many conservatives who wish to avoid liberalism by going to a “conservative” college may be disappointed. College is a transition into an unsupervised first try at adulthood, and it is a time of self- searching. It is in this atmosphere that many liberal teachers have seized the opportunity to impart their ideology on to their students.

Liberalism is an ideology that thrives on the kind of lifestyle that is present on any college campus. Since most professors are children of the 1960’s, it is understandable that conservative principles suffer the greatest attack. As a survivor of a left-of-center college, I have compiled some of the best wisdom that I have heard or found out the hard way. Here it is:

The first and perhaps most obvious threat to your beliefs will be your professors. Over time, these people have found an ideology and built a massive wall of rhetoric around it- for better or worse. They may bring up points that are brand new to you, and may knock even the most strong-minded person off their feet. Bias on the part of the professor may be subtle, so always be on your toes. I once had a very wise professor who would tell one lie each class and see if we could catch it. It helped to teach me that people can make mistakes or manipulate facts, so it is always good to be respectfully skeptical. It is especially noble to question everything your professor says, which may lead to an investigation of their points. I have a simple trick to tell whether or not a professor is especially biased: if you can tell who they are voting for, they are biased. Knowing that a professor is biased helps to put their attacks on your beliefs in perspective.

Peer pressure, whether obvious or not, is also a powerful force. It is no secret that many leftist movements are begun on college campuses (did somebody say “Occupy”)? It is easiest to be rallied for a cause if your friends are as well. A good tip that I have learned is to be in touch with your families and frequently discuss what you have learned in school- especially the things that go against your beliefs. Your parents and family members may have good advice.

Information is like food; a balanced diet is best for a well-rounded perspective. Both sides deserve a chance. If a professor is only presenting his or her views, try reading or watching a counter to what was said. This is even true if the professor agrees with you; if the counter is weak, it will make you even stronger in your beliefs. Debate is an excellent way to collide ideas and let the strongest emerge. This often involves doing research, and takes practice. It is best to have a discussion if you have one or more people on each side of the issue. If your logical foundation is strong, your ideas will emerge even stronger.

Almost every college has some venue for conservatives to meet for moral support. This may be in the form of a club or organization. It is a breath of fresh air to meet with likeminded people- especially after having your beliefs mocked in the classroom. There was no conservative club at my school, so I started one with a friend.

Professors have spent their entire career defending their personal views, while you have just begun. If your views are struck down, do not be discouraged. There are plenty of great resources to stay the course and emerge stronger in your own ideas.