An SFA student retweeted a tweet from Young Conservatives of Texas at Texas State University’s Twitter on Oct. 9, vocalizing how hard it is to be a conservative on liberal college campuses.
The student, Savan Cleveland, senior engineering major from Houston, added to the tweet.
“Let’s bring this to SFA,” Cleveland said. “Our campus has become very liberal lately, and conservative voices are being ignored.”
Cleveland explained that political groups started to change after the 2016 election. A year after joining the Campus Republicans chapter at SFA, Cleveland said that the emergence of the SFA College Democrats club changed the dynamics for conservative organizations.
“Any fundraising or awareness programs were immediately shut down due to Democrat groups,” Cleveland said. “An example for this is when we had a pro-life booth. We people about the topic. This resulted in a lot of hateful comments by the democrat club. When they had a pro-choice presentation, not a single republican party supporter expressed their viewpoints negatively to them.”
According to Cleveland, the harassment caused the Campus Conservative chapter at SFA to close temporarily because admins began to leave and attendance dropped.
“Campus Republicans is a wonderful place for people to voice their opinions. We are trying to pick up some pieces right now and figuring a way to reduce the hate speech from the left,” Cleveland said.
Aside from conflicts between student organizations, some conservative students experienced issues with faculty members.
Hunter Ross, a junior wildlife management major from Pollok, recounted an experience he had with an English professor.
“I took an English class and I’m not going to say the professor’s name, but all we did the whole class was watching a movie and listened to the professor go on tangents about how the justice system was racist,” Ross said. “Now, she did allow me and the only other conservative guy speak our mind in class, but she made it clear that she thought we were wrong with our views.”
While the professor did make class difficult for conservative Ross to feel comfortable and heard, a specific assignment stood out to him where she negatively reacted to his opposing views.
“We had to write four papers over the movie; and in all of them, I made sure to stay in the center because I figured she’d take off for my views,” Ross said. The last paper I wrote I was tired of it and expressed my views in the last paragraph. I took it to be reviewed, and the person that reviewed it said it was a great paper. The professor emailed me saying that she should fail me for some of the language I used but ended up passing me. I don’t know why.”
The professor and Ross disagreed on “just all of it” in his paper, according to Ross. They both differed on specifics in governmental situations and the status of discrimination in the United States.
“I don’t think that the system is built to discriminate against minorities,” Ross said. “I do believe that is was, but I don’t think it is now. I think the problem is we tell people that no matter how hard they try, they can’t make it because of the system. They don’t try because what’s the point, right? I said that, and she didn’t like that.”
However, the issues some conservative students may face do not just lie with professors of opposing views. There are also problems with conservative teachers, leading Ross to say he would prefer if personal political views be left outside the classroom.
“I don’t think classes should make it mandatory for students to go to things that are obviously controversial and should hold more professors in check for expressing their views constantly in class, and that goes both ways,” Ross said. “I had a different professor in another class that was very hard conservative, and I didn’t like when he would throw in little comments bashing liberals because that’s not what I’m paying for.”
It doesn’t end in the classroom either. As an overall college conservative, Ross feels that the conservative beliefs are not widely accepted. Stating when conservative opinions are expressed, the student expressing that opinion will be “attacked.” Logan O’Connor, a junior agricultural engineering technologies major from Waskom, believes that being a student at SFA is all about “how you carry yourself.”
“If you can’t defend yourself then it’s going to be hard,” O’Connor said. “I’m a very confident person and I’m well informed in my information. However, I’m also one of the friendliest people you will ever meet. I would give the shirt off my back to anyone in need. It’s very easy for me to express my political opinion. However, I do have to monitor who is listening. I do not go out of my way to cause an argument, but do enjoy political discussion with others. As long as said conversation is just that, a conversation and not an argument.”
Despite the difficulties that the conservative students reported, their proposed solution called for open- mindedness along political lines.
“Unfortunately, our campus will always have a split,” Cleveland said. There is no solution to the problem. We as a community need to realize that more than one opinion is valid. That’s the only way to stop the hate.”