Strangers destroying my posters promoting conservatism, fellow women telling me I am “against” our own sex because I am conservative, and professors teaching that conservatives have been corrupted by “rich, white men.” These three personal experiences highlight some of what I have faced from campus liberals as a conservative student at the College of Charleston in South Carolina—and that was just during my freshman year.
Before arriving on campus, I had heard the political climate in college was hard on conservatives. I didn’t realize what “hard” meant until I took the hits myself. I live in a world where many of my peers are too afraid to support conservatism in front of their friends. I am open about my support of conservatism, which leads to regular battles.
As I’ve tabled for my Network of enlightened Women (NeW) chapter on campus, encouraging students to join our group, I have had peers tell me they are interested, before whispering, “Don’t tell anybody.” I respond that they can just come to our meetings, hang out, no pressure. But they are just too scared. They don’t show up.
Once some people hear the word “conservative” in our pitch, they instantly back away. I can’t blame them. The stigma against being a conservative on campus is a lot to handle. I’ve been frustrated by how conservatives are treated here.
During the spring semester, I hung flyers in a campus building advertising a professional development workshop for NeW. The posters stated, “Are you a campus conservative? Join us for a meeting,” with the time, date, location, and a picture of some of our members. Someone took the time to unpin each flyer, turn them over, then re-pin them, so the only thing visible were blank, white pages.
Finding vandalism like this is frustrating. It shows how afraid people are to see another political perspective on campus. It has gotten to the point where even the word “conservative” triggers fellow students.
Thankfully, I have formed strong connections with other right-of-center groups on campus. Our NeW members work closely alongside other likeminded students to support each other. There is friendship, healthy debate, dialogue, and discussion.
These groups are not immune to the liberal backlash. One night as I helped a friend hang some of his posters, we noticed that one we had hung just 15 minutes earlier had vanished. We rushed to the top floor of the building to witness a stranger destroying them. We gave chase, demanding our property back.
“Do you like censoring free speech?” my friend asked the vandal. The man carried one of our destroyed posters, which said “Don’t be so offended.” Ironic, right? He responded, “It’s my free speech to tear down your free speech.” He soon took off down the street into the darkness.
Once campus public safety officers arrived, they informed us they could not identify him from a cell phone video we had taken. The case was closed. It took only 15 minutes for my free speech rights to be trampled. These are only a few of many negative experiences I will face as a conservative on campus.
I grew up in a small, conservative town in Virginia where I attended private school. Coming to Charleston, South Carolina—one of the most liberal cities in South Carolina—was a culture shock. As a political science major, I hope to use my degree to develop viable policy options that help advance and support women. Liberals and their one-size-fits-all universal government solutions are monolithic and infantilizing. We can do better than that.
I recently found a copy of the police report from the night my friend and I confronted the vandal. As I gazed at the document, I realized that, for me, it symbolizes why I continue to promote my unwavering conservative views on campus and support fellow females. My conservative values are something I wear on my sleeve. They are part of who I am. I am not a victim, and I will not back down.
This essay is one of 22 essays included in “She’s Conservative: Stories of Trials and Triumphs on America’s College Campuses” published by the Network of enlightened Women. The book is available for purchase here.