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OP-ED: What it’s REALLY Like Being a Conservative on a Liberal College Campus


Photo by Jnn13 / CC 3.0

I believe freedom of speech is the most important right we have as Americans. It gives me the right to say anything I want—and no one can disagree. If you disagree with the things I say, you attack my freedom of speech, because you are saying I should not be saying those things.

Since I began studying at this liberal institution, my right to free speech has been assaulted time and time again. People disagree with the things I say—just because I’m a conservative Republican. That’s right, you heard me: a conservative Republican. I believe in the free market, personal responsibility, America first and all that. And here at Penn, my beliefs are under attack.

Listen to this: On the first day of classes, I walked into my philosophy lecture ready to engage with my peers. As a conservative Republican, I sat in the center front row. Before class started, a classmate on my left leaned over and asked, "Did you see if the professor released the syllabus yet?" The answer to this question was no, I had not seen if the professor released the syllabus, so I replied, "I believe we should focus on securing American jobs and be working to slow illegal immigration." Despite my civil response, the classmate rolled his eyes and turned back around.

That same class, the professor posed a question regarding the material (I don't quite recall the material, as I was busy fostering my own success). As a conservative Republican, I raised my hand to answer the question. The professor called on someone in the back, but, thinking she had called on me, I answered, "I believe that life begins at conception." The professor snapped her head to look at me and said that she hadn't called on me. It was in this moment that I realized conservative opinions are not welcome at Penn.

These instances occur daily at this university. Yesterday, I was in my first study group for a history class. Dinner time was approaching, and some of us decided to get burgers. Me, being the conservative Republican I am, ordered a cheeseburger with fries and ketchup. One of my study partners ordered the same thing, but without ketchup. So I asked her, “No ketchup?” To which she replied, “No; I don’t like ketchup.” Now challenged and preparing for discourse, I countered, “I like ketchup.” To this, she nodded and turned away, shutting down any opportunity for reasonable discussion. As a conservative Republican, I found this offensive. Not only did she disagree with my opinion, but she also ruined a potentially respectful and productive debate.

In summary, being conservative on a liberal campus has stripped me of my first amendment right. Students at Penn need to practice tolerance of less popular opinions. The next time someone asks me if I'm a dog person or a cat person, they should respect that I prefer the private sector, as it fosters creativity and competition and stimulates the economy.