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Be respectful of political differences

Over the last few weeks, the expression of conservative political ideas has once again come under attack by more extreme opposition. This has further highlighted the severe lack of respect that members of The College of Wooster have for diversity of thought.

While the College Republicans (CRs) have been operating since the beginning of the semester, the first visible announcement of meetings prompted students to physically remove the advertisements and announce that they felt “uneasy and threatened by [The College Republicans’] presence,” citing decisions made by the Trump administration among reasons for this anxiety. Additionally, a portion of Wooster students continues to classify conservatives as “dangerous,” “Fascist” and “discriminatory” without substantial evidence to support such claims.

The lack of condemnation by the rest of the student body and the administration leaves these conservative students feeling isolated and ostracized despite Wooster’s identity as a diverse and accepting campus. Furthermore, these students commonly share the fear of receiving a lower grade due to their political differences with professors if they were to speak openly about their views. For these reasons, many students that identify as Republican have been forced into silence.

As the newly determined vice-chair of the organization, I have had many instances where peers have discreetly approached me asking to be added to the club’s email list or inquiring about club meetings, whispering to ensure that no one else can hear. These students no longer feel comfortable or even safe on this campus to embrace something that they should not be ashamed of representing. In an article published last week in the Voice, a student explained, “I want to believe that I have no reason to feel threatened or unsafe on my campus as a queer student.” In response, they are within their right in wanting to feel safe and secure in a place that is a sanctuary for learning and a place where all students live, and so are we. This right should extend to every individual on this campus regardless of their belief or identity. I have yet to encounter a member of the Wooster CRs that has any hostile feelings towards anyone that identifies as LGBTQ+, let alone any that wish to bring harm to those individuals.

However, many of the Wooster CRs have faced verbal abuse, and a few have even had to deal with physical violence all because people have been made aware of their political identity, an identity that is often mischaracterized and misrepresented by those who oppose it. It is becoming increasingly acceptable on this campus to respond to different political ideas with suppression, which ironically is part of the definition of Fascism. I have faith that as a whole, our student body is not hateful, just misinformed.

However, recent behavior showcased by many students must stop. To the students concerned about what messages we are promoting or activism we sponsor, please come to one of our meetings or speak with any of our executive board members. All of us enjoy the opportunity to engage in constructive political discourse. Most importantly, to the students that do feel silenced or embarrassed by your views, know more students agree with you than you realize. The College Republicans are determined to create a culture shift on this campus that will put an end to the hostility and backlash we have faced in years past which requires the cooperation of all. We can only benefit from the exchange of ideas, even if they lead to respectful disagreement to create a challenge to individual opinions and provide insight into a variety of viewpoints.

Lillian Dunning, a Contributing Writer for the Voice, can be reached for comment at LDunning21@wooster.edu.

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