How going to a liberal college made me more conservative

How going to a liberal college made me more conservative
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When I applied to colleges during my senior year of high school, the only thing on my mind was saving money and staying close to my family. This landed me at Mount Holyoke College, a small liberal arts women’s college in western Massachusetts. As one of the first people in my family to go to college, I had no idea how biased and divided today’s campuses have become.

Mount Holyoke is only a couple of miles from where I grew up, but it was still a cultural shock for me, especially during my first-year orientation, when I witnessed students cutting another student’s ponytail on stage in front of my class as an act of “feminist liberation.” Though I identified as a Republican because of my grandfather’s influence, I was not very educated on conservative principles, and I certainly did not consider myself an activist.

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I decided to take a gender studies course my first semester. I was hoping to learn more about women’s historic struggle and current issues women face around the world. However, when asked what my pronouns were on the first day of class, I realized that Mount Holyoke was going to challenge my Republican views. I welcomed these new perspectives, particularly from my international peers that make up 25 percent of Mount Holyoke’s student body.

 

Shortly into my first semester, I quickly learned that MHC’s pervasive leftism meant not only that conservative views weren’t welcome, but conservative students were not either. I came to this realization after I befriended Yvonne Dean-Bailey, a former Mount Holyoke student who transferred after being elected a state representative in New Hampshire. Dean-Bailey was an activist and a writer, and after she published a report about on-campus protests in a conservative outlet, she was severely harassed by our peers.

Dean-Bailey eventually left and I started slowly moving more toward conservative activism. The tipping point was after I captured a viral video of a protestor at UMass Amherst who attempted to use the heckler’s veto to shut down an event with right-wing speakers by yelling “keep your hate speech off this campus.” Though the event was public and I attended it as a student journalist, the protestor and her friend asked my school to ban me from writing.

This incident motivated me and helped me realize it was time to challenge intolerant leftist students through activism and writing. I went on to found Lone Conservative, an online publication and organization of over 250 students from 38 states who write about their experiences on campus and different conservative opinions. I realized the only way discourse on campus could be improved was by empowering conservatives to share their beliefs publicly in a civil manner.

After President TrumpDonald John TrumpSchiff: Surveillance warrant docs show that Nunes memo 'misrepresented and distorted these applications' Chicago detention facility under investigation following allegations of abuse of migrant children Ex-Trump aide: Surveillance warrants are 'complete ignorance' and 'insanity' MORE won the election, the treatment of conservative students on college campuses worsened. For the first week, as I reported at that time, I received a significant amount of harassment, both online and while walking to class. My friends were even criticized for merely daring to associate with me or College Republicans. Due to being the nearest open Trump supporter, some of my extreme leftist peers took out their frustration on me. This isolation only further embedded my conservative values.

I realized that much of the hatred I was receiving was from people who had never met me before — but they still made blanket statements to vilify not only me, but any one who shared my views. These individuals failed to see the value of individualism, and they certainly didn’t realize that politics is only one part of your identity.

By my senior year, I was used to the criticism but spent most of my time working, writing my thesis, traveling, or spending time with friends who did not attend Mount Holyoke. Despite this, I enjoyed being in college. I enjoyed being constantly challenged because it taught me how to articulate my views to people who disagree with me, and helped me develop a passion for debate. I had a great relationship with several professors and a few administrators who were sympathetic to my situation.

Many conservative students lack the luxury of supportive professors, and I am thankful for my many mentors. However, my peers remained my primary issue until the very end. At graduation, I accepted my diploma while wearing a cap decorated with several political stickers, including a Trump-Pence sticker, which resulted in some of my fellow graduates booing me as I walked across the stage. Although I was not expecting this response, it validated what I’ve been saying for four years: There is a serious problem with leftist intolerance on college campuses.

I am not a victim. Conservative students are not victims. They do not want or need your sympathy, but only want to share their stories to embolden others. Their stories should encourage prospective students to avoid institutions with a deep leftist bias, or prepare them to endure and embrace opposition, and perhaps become even more conservative.

Kassy Dillon is the founder of LoneConservative.com. She can be found on Twitter at @KassyDillon.