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Conservatives say it’s hard to speak up in class*Life Among Liberals* ^ | February 27, 2003 | BY JARED LENOW

Posted on 07/11/2004 1:13:59 PM PDT by ATOMIC_PUNK

Conservatives say it’s hard to speak up in class


When Emily Remus ’06 chose to come to Swarthmore, she wasn’t aware of the school’s liberal reputation.

“I know it was naïve,” she said. “I maybe had a vague idea, but I didn’t know about the degree. If I knew what I know now, I probably would have reconsidered coming.”

A self-described moderate conservative, Remus considers herself to be decidedly to the right of the average Swarthmore student, a small feat considering that some conservative students jokingly describe the campus political spectrum as ranging from anarchist to communist.

“I was surprised to find out that some people actually come here because of its political reputation,” she said. “It’s such a huge part of everyday life. I really had no idea.”

One would hardly expect that an institution dubbed “The Kremlin on the Crum” by former vice president and Republican party stalwart Spiro Agnew would have a sizable, or, for that matter, any, conservative population.

However, relatively conservative Swatties may not be as rare as one might believe.

“There are more than people think,” said Randy Goldstein ’05, president of College Republicans. “The campus environment is just such that some people are hesitant to vocalize their beliefs.”

There are currently about 20 students on the College Republicans’ e-mail list, but Goldstein estimates that “at least double that number” sympathize with the conservative agenda.” Former College Republicans president Matt Rubin ’03 claimed that “people were constantly inquiring about our group, most of whom never showed up to meetings.”

While Rubin certainly does not believe that Swarthmore conservatives constitute any kind of “silent majority” on campus, he does believe there are far more political moderates on campus who sympathize with a number of aspects of the Republican ideology than common knowledge would suggest.

“There are a lot more moderates on this campus than people realize,” Rubin said. “I learned that after Sept. 11. I got a lot e-mails expressing interest in the College Republicans in the month that followed. There are more people who are willing to support, in the right circumstances, military action against Iraq, for example, than one might assume. There’s a perception that everyone on this campus is a pacifist, and that’s not true.”

Rubin pointed to last semester’s Swarthmore Progressive Action Committee-sponsored referendum on a statement opposing military action against Iraq. While 60.8 percent of the 660 students who cast a ballot voted in favor of the resolution, 25.3 percent voted against it and 13.9 percent expressed no preference.

Rubin also sees a lot of sympathy among moderates for the traditionally conservative issues of free trade and support for Israel.

“I think there are a lot of capitalists on this campus who believe in free trade, and you also see a lot of support for a pro-Israel foreign policy position,” he said. “Those are both Republican issues.”

Daren Tedeschi ’05, a current member of College Republicans, echoed Rubin’s sentiments.

“On the whole, Swat could be characterized as liberal, but the stereotype that Swat is full of extremely, extremely liberal people is just not accurate,” Tedeschi said. “In reality, the majority of people would tend towards the center. And I’m sure there are also a lot of closet conservatives.”

After she wrote an opinion piece for The Phoenix in November, expressing a “wish that people would stop assuming that Republicans are unthinking idiots who have no place at Swarthmore College,” former College Republicans treasurer Sarah Donovan ’04 said that a number of students had approached her with similar frustrations.

“When I wrote that piece for The Phoenix, people would just come up to me and shake my hand,” she said. “They just came out of the woodwork.”

While conservative students have each had very different experiences at Swarthmore, many have had a similar reaction to the overwhelmingly liberal character of school’s political climate.

“I wouldn’t say I feel threatened due to my conservative views,” Tedeschi said. “It’s not daunting to be a conservative at Swarthmore, but its definitely not easy.”

Most conservatives say any frustration stems more from their experience in classes than from social situations.

“Socially, it really hasn’t been a problem,” Remus said. “I don’t feel like I’m being ostracized. I wouldn’t say I’m in general uncomfortable here, it can just be frustrating in class. Politics shouldn’t saturate your French lit course or your chemistry course.”

Many students feel that conservative students’ ideas are accorded little respect in academic discussions, primarily by students, but at times also by professors.

“It’s hard for people to believe that any conservative view could be arrived at using the power of logic,” Tedeschi said. “The only time when your views aren’t really criticized is when they’re covered by religion, which I think is a sticky subject and is viewed as more of a personal decision.”

Goldstein also feels that his views are not given appropriate consideration.

“I think the majority of this campus just dismisses me as a wealthy white boy,” he said. “Not many people are willing to seriously discuss my political views.”

Other conservative students do not even attempt to discuss their political views because they feel their peers will judge them harshly.

“I can’t stand to discuss American politics, because it’s so personal here,” Donovan said. “If you have an ‘incorrect’ political view, it’s as though it reflects immorality or some innate evilness. Swarthmore’s not really a tolerant place, it’s just liberal. When a friend of mine found out I was a Republican, she said, ‘But you’re not crazy! You don’t belong to the NRA or anything, right?’ ”

While being in the political minority has its disadvantages, a number of conservative students believe it has added to their education.

“Swarthmore is the best education in the country for a conservative undergraduate,” said Rubin. “It’s to the benefit of conservative students to be in classrooms that are flooded with liberal and leftist texts, because it prepares them for what they’re up against.”

Many conservatives are quick to point out that their liberal peers don’t seem to be exposed to the same educational challenge.

“I think it’s a real problem educationally when students aren’t exposed to a diversity of opinions,” Remus said.

“I think they’re losing out on a lot. If the only people you’re arguing with are people who agree with you, how much is that really preparing you for anything?”

TOPICS: Culture/Society; Extended News; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: collegerepublicans; conservatives; highereducation; leftismoncampus; swarthmore
“I think they’re losing out on a lot. If the only people you’re arguing with are people who agree with you, how much is that really preparing you for anything?”
1 posted on 07/11/2004 1:14:00 PM PDT by ATOMIC_PUNK
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I think I was a moderate liberal when I was in high school, although definitely with some conservative tendencies. The conservative in me won out by the time I was through college, with a couple years in the military in the middle.

The problem came in arguing my point of view on any subject as I hadn't a clue regarding polemics, and surely could martial few facts to support my views. The difficulty in that is liberals don't need facts to support views since liberalism in the modern sense requires no foundation.

I suspect that is the biggest problem among college conservatives. It's just common sense that requires one to be liberal. So why would a liberal even engage in conversation with a conservative who obviously has no common sense?

My son went through a liberal high school and college as a conservative. Yet even in high school he took the time to memorize facts, dates and cause vs. effect in political decisions. It also helps that he has a pretty good memory. He discovered in high school that even his most liberal teachers didn't hold his views against him, which I found interesting. In fact in social studies-type classes they would even call on him to get the "conservative take" on this and that. He graduated valedictorian.

I don't know that he had the same experience in college, although I can promise he never tried to hide his views. He was Navy ROTC, so he had the opportunity at least once or twice per week to advertise. His classes were much more science oriented.

I believe you can argue conservatism in school these days, yet you need a sense of matter what, and it helps to read the conservative pundits, and a good memory is essential.

2 posted on 07/11/2004 1:35:38 PM PDT by stevem
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I am amazed and heartened to find out there is even ONE conservative at Swarthmore, which if I recall correctly is a Quaker-run school. While I agree it is a good way to hone your debating skills by living in such an atmosphere, it is also very exhausting and requires something of a thick skin. I feel that way living in New York, where it is just assumed that you hate Bush and support Kerry.

3 posted on 07/11/2004 1:43:50 PM PDT by speedy
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In 1930's Germany, Russia, name it...this same senario was played out. No dissent! Report you to the superiors. Pretty soon there was no dissent and the nations deteriorated into dictatorships and chaos. What ovens? What concentration camps? We never knew about it...and BS on and on!Forewarned is forearmed!

4 posted on 07/11/2004 2:16:14 PM PDT by Don Corleone (Leave the gun..take the cannoli)
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The only one I had any real trouble with was my German professor bitching about Reagan/Bush.

After a couple days of this I told him in no uncertain terms, if he was going to bitch, whine and moan about them, it had better be in GERMAN.

That cut about 95% of his whining.

5 posted on 07/11/2004 2:16:31 PM PDT by Chode (American Hedonist ©®)
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What a little ninnyhead. Her parents are probably paying $35K per year or more, and neither she nor they investigated what she was getting into.

6 posted on 07/11/2004 2:28:22 PM PDT by valkyrieanne
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To: stevem

Very encouraging post. Good for your son, too!

7 posted on 07/11/2004 2:47:17 PM PDT by cinnathepoet (Directly, I am going to Caesar's funeral)
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Conservative views are generally arrived at by logic. Leftist views are only arrived via feeeeelings used for the aquisition of political power at the expense of society.

8 posted on 07/11/2004 3:26:52 PM PDT by longtermmemmory (VOTE!)
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To: Don Corleone

All universities are openly hostile to conservatives.

Conservative student papers are routinly stolen and thrown in the garbage by leftists.

Remember this are the same illogicals who oppose segregation of the races but support a seperate black student governemnt.

9 posted on 07/11/2004 3:29:33 PM PDT by longtermmemmory (VOTE!)
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To: longtermmemmory

The daughter of a friend of ours went to Wellesley College. Since they lived a long distance away, we ended up acting as surrogate parents while she was there. We attended a number of orientation and parent-student events. We found Wellesley to be a hotbed of lesbianism and radical dimwits. We managed to last through graduation. I wouldn't send my kids anywhere NEAR a place like Wellesley, Smith or Swarthmore or any 'women's' college.

10 posted on 07/11/2004 3:34:23 PM PDT by NHResident
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read later

11 posted on 07/11/2004 3:51:13 PM PDT by LiteKeeper (Secularization of America)
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To: NHResident

Which is a reason the info-babe on fox in the mornings bothers me. She went to welsley. Lori Duhe I believe.

12 posted on 07/11/2004 3:51:51 PM PDT by longtermmemmory (VOTE!)
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Time for her to look for a more "balanced" college, and transfer any credits...escape the BS.

13 posted on 07/11/2004 3:54:32 PM PDT by Kackikat
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To: NHResident

[ We found Wellesley to be a hotbed of lesbianism and radical dimwits.]

That?s all of academia for you. Even the technical schools are filled with radicals, especially lesbians.

The main activist element among the left seems to be gays and lesbians. Just watch for the rainbow insignia . They come in many forms, yet signify the same meaning. I made the mistake of asking a woman what her bumper sticker meant, she stated ?we are everywhere? alludes to gays and lesbians, and transgender peoples.

14 posted on 07/11/2004 4:05:42 PM PDT by damncat (Yikes!)
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To: NHResident

I went to one (Bryn Mawr). Yep, lesbianism and radical dimwits just about sums it up.

15 posted on 07/11/2004 4:55:43 PM PDT by Karyn M. PhD
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To: Chode

Exactly. I'm a student in high school now, so I have my share of leftist teachers.

In my opinion, conservative students need to get some more guts and stand up for our beliefs rather than just complaining. If you can't stand up for your self in an academic environment, you probably won't be able to in the real world either.

16 posted on 07/11/2004 10:19:30 PM PDT by TheCookMan
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To: longtermmemmory

I'm pretty sure Lori Dhue went to UNC. A business acquaintance knew her there.

17 posted on 07/11/2004 10:24:17 PM PDT by FreedomPoster (hoplophobia is a mental aberration rather than a mere attitude)
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To: TheCookMan

Good for you... stand tall and be proud. Challange them every time till they get tired of defending themselves because it doesn't get any easier in college, they are even MORE screwed up than High School teachers. Chode

18 posted on 07/12/2004 10:34:57 AM PDT by Chode (American Hedonist ©®)
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