One of my close friends at Emerson, who also happens to be a Republican, recently told me: “I like to give off the vibe that I’m not conservative sometimes because social interaction is hard enough as it is.” This is not the mentality to carry around on a college campus. We shouldn’t have to apologize or feel the need to defend ourselves and our beliefs on a regular basis.For such an open and tolerant school, I find it ironic that some conservatives on campus, including me, feel ashamed or scared to proudly claim their political identities. On Emerson’s campus, the stigma of “coming out” as a conservative seems to mimic “coming out” as gay on a less progressive campus.Not only do I fear the judgment from my fellow students, but I have the same fear of being judged by my professors. I have hesitated to speak up in class, feeling trapped into representing views that I simply did not share.
In light of our conversation about the many facets of diversity in yesterday’s FYWP program meeting, this opinion piece written by a student caught my eye. The position the writer describes being in is one I think about often, and at times I find myself deliberately making a case for political positions not my own (playing devil’s advocate, I suppose) to make sure they’re taken seriously as arguments rather than dismissed out of hand — not to change minds, necessarily, but to reinforce and demonstrate the “generosity” Harris urges upon us as writers. It’s a complicated, negotiated decision to decide how your own politics will enter your classroom, but one that matters to me.