Politics and current events are often at the forefront of a typical student’s mind. Whether it’s active membership of a political party or simply a conversation between two friends at the pub, politics is always a lingering subject. Yet I was keen to understand more about the experiences of those who follow ideologies which are maybe not so popular. In this case, I wanted to understand more about students who aligned with a conservative ideology. The trouble with this however, was the fact that students who openly admit to this kind of following are seldom seen on campus. And this got me wondering. Do students who follow conservatism and find themselves perhaps in a minority feel ostracised at university?
When we talk about conservatism many of us immediately think towards the Conservative party in the United Kingdom. I would like to distance myself from simply looking at the 300 or so MPs that sit in Parliament and instead focus more on the students who consider themselves conservative with a small c, not a big C.
I would not consider myself a conservative, but would also not call myself left-wing. My opinions typically tend to move between the two depending on the issue or the circumstance. However, in my two and half years at university I have been curious to note the reactions from my fellow students when I air my opinions (whatever they may be) in public. I found that the opinions from myself which leaned left were often greeted with agreement and, in some cases, admiration. On the flip side, opinions that leaned more towards the right were often faced with disagreement and even harsh condemnation. So why in a country where politics is so diverse does it seem that University is stuck in one place. It is of course no secret that students, and university staff alike, tend to align themselves more with a left leaning or liberal ideology and to that I would have absolutely no complaints. But why does it seem that conservative thinkers on campus are not afforded the same luxury?
‘Can be frustrating’
I was able to obtain further evidence for this type of behaviour on campus when I spoke to a student who self identifies as a conservative thinker. I also thought it poignant that they wished to remain anonymous in this article.
They felt that, ‘possessing conservative beliefs at university can be frustrating. Too many students are quick to judge conservatism using the dominant liberal-left narratives. If they researched conservatism properly, they would realise that these stereotypes are completely false’.
Given my previous experience with airing conservative views in public, I wasn’t surprised that a conservative student would feel this way. But what it does show is that perhaps we aren’t quite as accepting a generation as we think we are. While there are so many wonderful aspects of student politics looking to be inclusive and accepting, I would say that there is a lot of work to be done to accept this particular political group. I really hope we see this in the near future.