The silence of conservatives at Lafayette: Opinion

David Bishop Skillman Library at Lafayette College. (Lauren Fox ’19)

My friends and I have become aware that our campus has a very noticeable liberal bias. Most of the college’s programming champions liberal causes. Most speakers that are invited on campus repeat the same tropes of oppression of minorities, injustice in the criminal justice system, decrying the patriarchy and sexual liberty for students. All these topics are worthwhile and deserve serious intellectual consideration. But when they are the only views that occupy our intellectual space and marketplace of ideas, a problem arises.

At Lafayette, conservative views never get to see the light of the day. Those who hold these views are never given the opportunity to express them independent of speaking up at brown bags, which have a palpable liberal bent. Those who want to hear conservative views can never do so because the college does not have programming or speakers who champion them.

I remember a talk last semester in which the speaker deplored what she called “purity culture,” and spoke in favor of sex outside and before marriage as consistent with the teachings of the Bible. With a topic as loaded as this, one would think the conversation would go on with a speaker who defends sexual continence would be invited to speak, as well. Nothing like this happened. Instead, when the talk was over and the student populace was filled with libertine sexual propaganda, the topic was closed on the same consensus it started on.

Although this seems to be the norm with events on this campus, all views need to be expressed and explored. This is not because we feel an affirmative action for them, but because the college has a duty to create an environment that allows for a diversity of views.

A friend of mine has speculated that liberal professors and students are much more active than their conservative counterparts, and so conservative professors and students need to take up a greater burden in trying to get their opinions across. The laxity of conservatives should not be an excuse, because in not hearing their views, we are doing ourselves a disservice. Preventing this is in everyone’s interest.

A start to change this would be for those in charge of programming to make a conscious effort to promote programming that speaks to the views of other groups represented on campus. Most importantly, liberal students, those in charge of programming and faculty members need to expel the notion that a rich and intellectually rigorous ideology like conservatism is a code word for bigotry and hatred. These two things will help broaden the intellectual marketplace to include all views and expose the liberal echo chamber on campus to some much-needed alternative music.

Written by Mwangala Simataa ’18

2 comments

What an interesting read. I consider myself somewhat conservative & hesitate to voice my opinions on social media for fear of the way people will interpret them.

The vagueness of this article speaks volumes.

I, too, would like to see more conservative views expressed on-campus, but without a clear definition of what constitutes a “conservative view,” you’ve really put the college in a precarious position. If you define it as “the viewpoints of the current presidential administration,” I hope you’ll understand why Lafayette may not want to host topics supporting a criminal justice system designed to exploit and destroy black bodies or a stern defense of why transgender students should be forced to use whatever bathroom designated by the state. If you define conservative viewpoints exclusively fiscally, they’re certainly more palatable, but there’s still contain some incredibly problematic discussions about the working poor. Do we invite speakers who don’t believe in global warming? How about speakers like Milo, who believe gays should re-closet? Should we invite, as you seem to suggest, speakers who will thump the bible and ask our “libertine” students to close their legs? This is why a description of what you’d like to see would go a long way.

Secondly, the concept that “conservative views never see the light of day” at Lafayette is laughable. As a recent alum (in a humanity, no less!), I can tell you that I routinely heard conservative talking points in classrooms, discussions between peers, faculty decisions, Greek life, and literally every student function with more than one white person. If your beliefs are constantly being met with criticism, that’s not a failure of the marketplace of ideas. That’s the free market determining your ideas aren’t valuable enough to take up as much space as you demand. Surely you, as a conservative, can appreciate the beauty of that.

Leave a Reply

*