by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Joseph Warta writes for the Martin Center about the college experience for conservative students.
[I]n order to discover the real situation as to whether the American campus resembles a war zone for conservatives, I interviewed and surveyed conservative student leaders around the country in the spring of 2018. I received responses from 77 students in 35 states who belonged to one of seven different groups: Turning Point USA (TPUSA), Students for Life, Young Americans for Liberty (YAL), College Libertarians, Students for Liberty, College Republicans (CRs), and College Democrats. …
… The results suggest something different than academia as a war zone for academics, as did my own experience. At Wake Tech, I was both the chapter president and a state chairperson for Young Americans for Liberty. I was surprised by a lack of opposition. As the liaison to the state organization for seven chapters, I never heard of any problems student groups had with faculty, administrators, or other students.
No protesters tried to shut down any of our events. Faculty were nothing but pleasant—my interactions with them consisted of friendly conversations. Professors invited me to join their clubs; one even gave me books he thought I would find interesting.
And that seems to be the experience of most of the respondents. While my sample is small, there seemed to be a general pattern that most student activists did not face hostility. Most problems were those of bureaucracy or indifference.
But serious issues remain, according to some respondents. Many have faced aggressive protests, hostility, and bad policies. And the degree of opposition was different depending on the particular student group. Members of three groups provided the overwhelming number of responses: TPUSA, YAL, and the CRs. Among them, TPUSA faced the most animosity. They more frequently dealt with hostile outside groups, they were less frequently invited to participate in discussions, and their events frequently have protests. It took them longer to be recognized and not a single one reported that their dealings with school administrators were “friendly and helpful.”