How A Liberal University Helped Me Find My Conservative Voice
Image Credits: Boston University
College: a journey of trial and error, newfound freedom from our parents, and often times, a scary place full of uncertainty. We don’t know anyone, in fact we barely know ourselves. For many of us, college is a time of self-exploration. We try new things, meet people from all walks of life, and learn things about ourselves that we might not have ever discovered had we chosen a different academic institution for this journey.
I grew up in relatively sheltered part of southwestern Connecticut and attended a private high school. During those formative years, the majority of my peers and I shared a conservative viewpoint when it came to politics, even though I didn’t realize I was actually forming political views. Regardless, there wasn’t a whole lot of variety in political views at my high school. I was never really challenged to see things from different perspectives.
Last year, I was fortunate enough to spend my freshman year at Boston University. I have since transferred, but I promise it’s not due to the school’s politics. Like thousands of other college freshman, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I knew what things I didn’t want to do, and knew that I wanted to take either a pre-med or pre-law track, but both of those are pretty different paths to take in college. I joined clubs that matched my interests, including BU’s College Republicans, but I had no idea the impact that club would play as the year progressed. I’ve always had a big mouth and I’m quick to jump to conclusions, but my experiences last year solidified my conservative beliefs and showed me how to listen to other points of view while arguing my own respectfully.
As far as college campuses go, they’re historically liberal. Take that idea, multiply it by one thousand, and you get Boston University. From my first day of classes, my beliefs were challenged. I remember texting my mom after every single American government class to complain about my professor. I left that class fuming. Sometimes the topic of discussion would veer to the 2016 election. Once, my professor pointed out how far our nation had come by stating, “We actually have one female running for president this cycle!” and I sat there, blood boiling, with a face as red as the Carly For America sticker proudly displayed on my laptop. Throughout that course, my professor never once acknowledged that a woman was running for the other party. I made sure to bring it up where I could in our weekly class discussions.
My second semester proved to be a bit more challenging. Instead of just one, I had two professors who demonized conservatives. I can’t tell you which was worse. The first was my public policy professor. Throughout the course, she only explored liberal policies. One of her main focuses of the course was universal healthcare and why it’s passing was comparable to the coming of Jesus. She was so confident in a Clinton 2.0 presidency that she didn’t even explore the possibility of the Affordable Care Act being repealed, but what does that have to do with public policy, right? We watched numerous (biased) ‘documentaries’ about how the housing market crash was a GOP ploy and could have been avoided if a Democrat had been in the White House. She constantly berated the GOP and insisted that my political party was halting the progress of the country. I probably had said “wrong” under my breath more times than Trump did in his debates with Hillary by the time that class was over.
The second professor was a foreign professor I had for a 1980s history class. He designed the class so that every third class, we would have discussion, which helped me stand up for my beliefs since participation was a mandatory part of my grade. I enjoyed this class, minus the professor telling us that he hated our political system and questioning why we hadn’t overthrown it yet. Eventually I learned not to get angry at these statements or actions, but I wrote them down and took them with me to College Republicans.
Being actively involved in my school’s College Republicans chapter became very important to my growth and progress in finding my political voice last year. When I showed up to the first meeting, I was surprised to see so many like-minded individuals at such a liberal school, in such a liberal city, in an even more liberal state. I found that we all felt like we couldn’t openly share our ideas in class. We feared our classmates, and in some cases, our professors wouldn’t be open to hearing an opinion that didn’t mirror their own.
College Republicans became a safe space, wink wink, for me last year because the organization allowed me to speak. There, I felt like I didn’t have to hide something that I felt was becoming a larger part of my identity. This organization became a huge part of my freshman year and it gave me the opportunity to volunteer on Carly Fiorina’s campaign. College Republicans also gave me numerous networking opportunities, as well as people to watch debates with. It was central to me finding not only my political voice, but discovering what I want to do with my future.
Despite transferring from Boston University, I am incredibly grateful for all of the experiences I had in the city last year. Something challenged my beliefs every single day, whether it was a professor making an overly liberal comment, my roommate’s boyfriend telling me he felt speaking Spanish should be a mandatory requirement to be president, or the weekly protests held in the center of campus. However, each of these little trials and tribulations were presented to me for a reason. They made me more confident in my own political beliefs and myself as a conservative woman. They taught me how to listen to and respect other people’s opinions, even if that meant the same courtesy wasn’t extended to me. By immersing myself in the unknown, I found not only my political voice, but myself.
Mackenzie is a spunky conservative studying political science and journalism at the University of Delaware. She enjoys listening to music, reading, and playing a variety of sports in her free time. When she’s not busy making people laugh or singing loudly to classic Disney tunes, you can probably find her in her bed napping.