Being Conservative on a Liberal Friendly Campus

By Savannah Edgens

I came to the realization that I’m a minority on the University of Florida campus. Sure, I’m not an ethnic minority. I’m a white female. However, I am a minority because I’m one of the few openly conservative people on campus, and specifically, in the College of Journalism and Communications.

I had been surrounded by Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton shirts all semester. I had been saturated with talk about how Republicans and Donald Trump supporters were racists, bigots and uneducated. I believe the word ‘Nazi’ was even thrown around. I knew I didn’t fit any of those labels. As a conservative, I’m pretty liberal when it comes to social justice and human rights. I don’t always fit in with fellow Republicans, and I don’t fit in with progressives.

I remember my happiness when President Trump won the 2016 election. I was ecstatic because, for the first time in my life, I felt like the political pendulum was going back toward the middle rather than the far left or far right. I wanted to celebrate, but I couldn’t.

I couldn’t celebrate because emotions had been running high all semester. I was afraid to wear my Trump shirt to class the next day out of fear of violence taking place. So, I decided to make a statement in a subtle way. I wore a red shirt, and only my close friends deciphered my symbolism.

My professors apologized for the outcome of the election, and some even went as far as to condemn students who voted for Trump. I did not feel safe. I couldn’t join the College Republicans organization due to my affiliation with the Journalism college and a desire to become a journalist. It didn’t seem ethical. So, I stayed quiet and tried to be “conservative.”

I was told to “play the game and get the grade” by so many people, but what they didn’t understand is that I shouldn’t have to. My grades should not depend upon the ideology of my professors, yet many times it did. I decided that I was tired of playing the game, and I wanted a new one where news was fair and balanced, not liberal or conservative. I set out to change the norms and reject the stereotypes. The only way to do that was to be me, and it was the best decision I ever made.

Now that I’m “out about it,” as some of my friends have said, I no longer feel out of place. I’ve allowed myself to get involved with conservative causes. After all, many of my liberal peers are activists, so I shouldn’t be any exception. The double-standard of the left is extremely real, but it’s one that can only be seen and experienced from the outside.

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