Lifestyle Staff Writer| Amber Huntzinger | email@example.com
*EDITORIAL NOTE: “Names within the article were changed or withheld by request of the interviewees for reasons regarding safety and privacy.”
Protests have been dominating college campuses all over the world, as students feel increasingly scared and anger. People are looking to change and stop President Donald Trump’s policies.
On Ohio University’s campus, students who identify with a more liberal approach to politics are gathering together to write letters, pass around petitions, stage protests and educate their peers. But what about those who identify as more conservative – are they speaking out on their opinions on the current state of things, or do they feel pressured to stay silent as they agree with what the president is doing? Simply put, do they feel a loss of free speech?
I remember staying up on a group text with my family waiting for the results to come in. When Trump won, I celebrated quietly. And when I arrived to class, I felt like I was the only one who was happy. In fact, one girl said, “The world is going to hell now.”
Daniel*, an OU senior, does feel that loss. “Most of the time I stay quiet because anyone that is saying something publicly is typically very passionate about it,” he said. “And if I disagree I feel like they would get angry very quickly so I try to stay away from confrontation.”
Ian*, a junior at OU, agreed – to a point. “I do feel that freedom of speech is limited on campus. I can see how conservative students don’t want to speak out on issues in fear they will be punished by being called Nazis and racists.” However, he added that he tends to not let that fear stop him. “I know I am not those things,” he said.
According to USA Today College, 55 percent or a little over half of the millennial population voted for Hilary Clinton and only 37 percent voted for President Trump. Putting those facts into real life, it is easy to see why so many conservative students feel outnumbered and marginalized.
In fact, it doesn’t feel like we are the “silent majority” as most Republicans have dubbed themselves. It feels a lot more like we are the “silent minority” here on campus. Not a lot of people want to associate with a “conservative.” People get angry. Some roll their eyes as soon as someone identifies himself or herself as a conservative. They’re treated differently.
To us, it feels as though some liberal students have preconceived notions on what conservative students believe in.
“I 100 percent believe in a person’s right to live the way they want to live,” Daniel said. “I think where I’m most conservative is economically, border control, and in terms of military.”
Conservative students are feeling pressured to blend in and not cause a scene. Daniel said that although he doesn’t feel he needs to voice his opinion on politics to anyone, there are very few places for students to go who may feel that they need to talk without “being shouted down.” One such place is the Ohio University College Republicans.
The feeling among conservatives is that many are experiencing backlash for their beliefs: as this was visible in the stories of those willing to speak to me, as well as the hesitation to have their full names printed in an article about conservativism on campus.
We should not be the campus that silences student’s opinions, we should be the campus that is tolerant and learns from each other’s experiences and ideas.