Earlier this year, the media became flooded with an article from an African-American student from Transylvania University who talked about how she faced discrimination on a daily basis due to her race. She mainly referenced the Fraternity Kappa Alpha for their representation on southern pride (this all happened in the early 2000's when people were still proud to display a confederate flag). Since the early 2000's, Transylvania has implemented many new policies to help diversify their student population in hopes that they would be seen as a safe school that stood up for equality for everyone. I'm here to say, that they've failed.
Lexington is a very Democratic city. I knew this when I applied to Transy. Transylvania is also a Liberal Arts college, which isn't related to Liberal politics, but does tend to draw in a Democratic majority. This is obvious in every single aspect of school here. And, as a strict Republican, it does tend to cause more problems then you may expect. I'm a full supporter of freedom of speech. Everyone has an opinion, and everyone should be free to share it. I'm even willing to listen to people discuss their beliefs, and I'm even in a class about feminism and gender, which is quite a liberal class if I may be honest. I'm always happy to hear what people think, but what I don't respond well to is aggression and belittling me due to my political beliefs.
Transylvania has a program known as August Term, a 3 week program that helps freshman accustom themselves to college life. This is a time where outside of the classroom, people get to meet one another. I'm from out of state and knew nobody in this school, and I found this to be a very common theme. As a liberal arts college, Transy gets people in from all around the country, including many from different countries. Sweet, I get a fresh new start with fresh new people. I get to make my reputation however I'd like it. But within a week, I had already made several enemies with a single fact; I am a proud Republican. It's amazing to me that when I listen to someone's political opinion and then give my own, I'm the one who's lashed out at for being a "racist" or "bigot", some even go as far as saying "bane of society" or "fascist Nazi". When it came out that I wasn't a whole fan of the whole gay marriage Supreme Court ruling or that my ideas of a former Bruce Jenner were that he was in no way whatsoever brave or respectable, that's when things started to get out of hand. I lost friends left and right. People even went out of their way to not talk to me, to make me a social Pariah because I had different beliefs.
I could withstand people not liking me due to my beliefs, as that was most of high school for me (hence wanting a new start). I honestly don't care if people dislike me for my beliefs, because at least I stand up for myself. I disagree with the lifestyles chosen by many people of this school. What confuses me, though, is the discrimination I'm faced with directly from those against discriminating. Transy put out a special newsletter in the campus newspaper, "The Rambler" about how upcoming Halloween celebrations should be treated (this came out the week before Halloween). I figured, no big deal, don't wear something too racist and you're fine. It turns out, people were expecting quite a bit more than that. They demanded that members of organizations "not wear racially, ethnically, or culturally offensive costumes while representing their organizations." It also asked that organizations not host anyone wearing offensive costumes. They even listed off costumes not to wear, including Native American, Mexican, Asian, Religious attire, or anything associated with a specific culture (genies, fortune tellers, etc.).
So with all these regulations, I expected to see people wearing some typical costumes. TV show characters, ghosts, that kind of stuff. Lo and behold, I manage to run into a transvestite that was prancing around campus wearing a gay pride flag as a cape, a certain girl who also carved the pumpkin "Gender is a social Construct". I'm no expert, but i'm fairly certain that the whole reason everybody doesn't fly gay pride flags is because many people find it offensive. I know for a fact that if I walked around wearing a Confederate flag (also known as southern pride flag), I would've faced so much backlash that it would've resulted in some serious punishment for me.
Here's the facts: Transy's College Democrats club has 38 members. The College Republican club struggled this year to get over 20 so that it could be considered an actual club. The clubs aren't the problem, though. In fact, both clubs often have combined meetings and debates. The college democrats actually did help out to ensure that there was a Republican club this year. The problem lies not with those who are dedicated to liberal politics, but those who are purely dedicated to the beliefs, the hardcore liberals who push their opinion onto others while not being willing to hear a reasonable rebuttal. It was also a fun day when we had a guest speaker of Hampton, who was here to help spread the word of her and Matt Bevin before the election. The day that wasn't fun was when Bevin was actually elected, which resulted in ugliness for all of his supporters. I was at lunch when someone told me Bevin was elected, and my cheer of pride was met with looks of disgust and hatred. People left the table, saying thing along the lines of I was responsible for ruining this state and country, that my political opinion was wrong just because it was different. I have never been afraid to share my opinion, but being in this college has made me reluctant due to the backlash which I know is inevitable.
Believe me, I'm not the only one who feels this way. I interviewed a fellow member of the College Republicans (who wishes to remain anonymous), and he's had more experience with this issue since he's been in this school for longer. He responded with this:
"It's not okay to hide behind anonymity and insult people for expressing their thoughts. Where were you last year, Mr. Lega, when I was at the mercy of the social media mob being strong-armed into taking down my submission? Ah, that's right... it's okay to suppress conservative opinions because they're "wrong" and don't correspond to the ideals you yourself hold.
Listen to what your opponent has to say instead of drowning them out in a sea of voices like you did last year. 40+ Facebook comments calling for my head on a platter wasn't constructive--I took the letter down before physical publication because I genuinely feared for my well-being and safety because people were so triggered by what I had to say.
Nobody tried to understand my point of view.
Nobody tried to listen to my words and reflect on them.
Nobody tried to respond respectfully and continue the debate.
Constructive criticism would have been a responding letter to the editor in which we could exchange ideas like civilized people. Honestly, it's why I haven't even written anything into the newspaper for a while because I'm scared of the repercussions from the student body. It shouldn't be that way, and as it stands, it's not even close to diverse and inclusive like you claim it to be.
If you're automatically going to label everything that's different from your opinion insulting, you are, indeed, a coward for wanting to cop out and exempt yourself from constructive debate. Right-wingers like myself bring arguments and responses to the table (ie, my letter to the editor last year that was horrendously received by the student body) and wish to engage in conversation and get responses. You know, we're kind of doing that thing Transy espouses of promoting "inclusion"? But no, you're not inclusive at all. You're anything but. None of you can stand to listen to some kind of criticism or when we debunk your claims and expect some sort of counter-argument. All these people can reply with are words like "Bigot, hateful, intolerant, ignorant, etc." So go ahead and enjoy your helicopter rides, I'm sticking to my beliefs."
I close with this simple fact. By pushing equality and a very liberal school, Transylvania has stained its reputation by discriminating against its own students who have a different viewpoint than the majority. I am proud of who I am, but this school has shown me that it's not okay to be a Republican anymore. All of these people who are all about non-discrimination and against bullies and all for equality, are more than happy to turn around and scream at someone for being different, kick him to the ground, and leave him there. I am not the bigot at this school, it is those who go back on their beliefs in order to encourage them.
Update: it's since been 4 months since I've dropped out of this college. The constant bullying and lack of friends drove me to an overdose, a trip to the hospital, and two trips to a mental hospital. The constant thought of knowing I'd never fit in was too much for me to bear. I moved back home and started trade school in a place where I thought I fit in. Despite the face I left my past behind me, my present was too much for a friend to handle. I was very recently assaulted and literally thrown from his property after the mention of my support for Trump. But the story has a happy ending. I've realized that some people will be stupid, unintelligent bastards, but they're not at all the people I want to surround myself with. Dropping out of college was hard, but it made me realize that I'm here for myself, and I need to learn to ignore the occasional plagues of society so I can better myself and make sure to never stoop to their level.