If you don’t, who will?
A frequent question I heard during my time in conservative activism circles concerned whether students should be open about their conservative or libertarian beliefs in college.
Implicitly or explicitly, the question is if students should risk a lower grade or ostracization by peers and their professors by sharing and arguing in defense of their views.
Students should respectfully stand up for their beliefs in college for several reasons.
You’ll find allies: Even if your classmates do not identify as conservative or libertarian, they likely share at least some of your views. Those that do identify that way will likely thank you for being open about your beliefs.
One time at Loyola, I made a comparison between the ease at which a teenage girl could obtain Plan B versus obtaining a firearm. A Muslim classmate came up to me and said that he was pro-life and also owned guns and invited me to go shooting with him. Someone has to be the first to share their beliefs.
You’ll do the professor’s job: Another time I gave a presentation on the benefits of fracking. The presentation came at the end of a semester that involved enduring numerous unscientific lectures against fracking from my “Christian ethics” professor.
A student in the class said she liked the presentation because she had never heard the arguments in support of fracking before my presentation. I do not know if she will end up voting Republican, but at least I did my part to make sure my classmates heard arguments in support of limited government.
Your professor will likely appreciate your comments: Sometimes professors themselves find the echo chamber suffocating to class discussion. This is a secret of the teaching profession that I only found out from being respectfully vocal in class.
A staunchly liberal professor in an undergraduate class thanked me at the end of the semester for getting other students to debate in class. After telling me she had never had a student with whom she disagreed more (I’m honored), the professor said that as soon as I started arguing in class other students would want to get involved.
You can be the model of a conservative, liberty-loving student: It’s not necessary to argue with your professor on every single point, wear a Make America Great Again Hat, and blast Michael Knowles on your phone before class starts.
But by respectfully and clearly engaging in class discussions to provide the conservative point of view, you can be the model of what your peers think of when they hear “conservative.” I am sure that some classmates will even ask for your opinion on a topic when they realize the media or the professor is not giving them the full picture.
You learn how to clearly articulate your point: Standing up for your beliefs and learning how to clearly articulate your point of view will give you practice in how to communicate ideas to others and refine your approach. You may find in arguing tax policy, for example, that some arguments work better than others.
Sharing your political beliefs may also have long-term benefits.
I mentioned that you may present ideas that no one has heard before — this could even save lives. For example, imagine that in a debate on abortion you share the facts about biological development and when life begins. This could help a student choose life when faced with an unexpected pregnancy.
Or you might talk about an argument from Jordan Peterson and that could lead a student to learning more about the psychologist and that could help him or her improve their mental health and create better habits.
You can defend your beliefs and survive college.
IMAGE: Students for Trump/Twitter