What It's Like To Be A Conservative on a Liberal College Campus

PHOTO: Young Republicans of Arlington, Brad Tidwell, Dan Anderson, and Freddie Klein, debate if Mitt Romney can beat President Barack Obama, March 6, 2012.

When Luka Ladan started his freshman year at Vassar College in southeast New York, he started noticing a difference between himself and the majority of his classmates.

“We were talking about the upcoming election,” he said. “I was in a class talking about Republicans – Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush. Whenever a name was mentioned, one kid would snicker and then five to seven would just laugh at the name.”

When the 2012 election finally rolled around, it didn’t get much better for Ladan when President Obama won and the campus seemed to erupt in celebration.

“[All the students] were just packed into a building. Everyone was cheering, ecstatic that they won,” he said. “I remember sitting in my room because I voted for Romney.”

WHAT TO KNOW
  • With the 2014 midterm elections around the corner and the 2016 presidential candidate speculation running on all cylinders, the College Republicans dove into exposing this demographic Tuesday night by starting a Twitter campaign called #MyLiberalCampus, encouraging conservative students to speak out on their experiences.

The College Republicans dove into exposing this demographic this week by starting a Twitter campaign called #MyLiberalCampus, encouraging conservative students to speak out on their experiences.

“Sometimes I’ve questioned my beliefs because so many of my fellow students believe in something different,” Ladan said. “Am I wrong with believing this? Is there something wrong with me? I remind myself that you should show resolve, but it’s tough.”

And there’s no College Republican group at the 2,500-student school, he said, because GOP supporters could “never manage to” get the necessary 25 signatures.

Megan Haas, third-year student at Northeastern, wasn’t expecting such a liberal campus when she moved from North Carolina, a state Romney won by 2 points in 2012.

“Coming up here was kind of a big shock to see the other side of things,” she said. “It comes across that there only is a liberal campus. That’s how I felt most of the way in college so far: that there is no room for conservatives there.”

This is a common experience in this age group: 66 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds voted for Obama in 2008 and 60 percent did in 2012 – the largest numbers in decades, according to the Pew Research Center.

“I would say a lot of liberals on campus are a lot more vocal, a lot more in your face,” she said. “I know I have – or my friends have – spoken up about their views in political science classes and we get beaten down and laughed at.”

The liberal classroom climate hasn’t stopped Haas from standing up for her conservative point of view.

“I’ve started ‘coming out’ in classes,” she said. “The faculty are – I don’t want to say oppressive – but they are very not open to other views.”

So what’s at the root of these liberal campuses?

“It’s really standard for young people to lean more left, especially in a university setting – and the root cause is that there is no one to object,” said Alice Gilbert, a third-year student at UC Santa Barbara.

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