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Shifting the Debate Right

Updated: Sep 28, 2021

Written by Vanshika Puri

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To what extent is there room for conservative world views at EUC?

As an institution, Erasmus University College is a politically left-leaning mix of ideologies. This is not a surreptitious statement; it was clear to me when I was applying to the college and from the day I had my first PBL at EUC. After all, it is a liberal arts college. However, as much of a haven as this may be for liberal students and faculty, what about those who do not identify with such views? Are they free to express their opinions or do they feel compelled to not disclose their beliefs? With this new column, EUC’s Writing & Journalism Co seeks to engage in discussion with the EUC community about topics that may otherwise go unaddressed.

By and large, EUC’s guiding philosophy is to produce empowered and engaged students. In an environment where all opinions are supposedly appreciated, all too often this expression of personal beliefs derails into a debate, where one side tries to explain to the other why their opinion is flawed or downright “wrong”.

Personally, I have had discussions with political conservatives about the use of historically oppressive language and while I believed their argument was flawed and vigorously attempted to explain why they were misinformed, I decided to drop the argument after realizing that I am projecting my beliefs on someone who would never understand my perspective. I am sure they felt the same about me. At that moment, I had to decide whether I wanted this conservative to feel free to continue expressing their beliefs or blindly believe that only like-minded individuals existed with me. You cannot force someone to change unless the change comes from within.

On the other hand, I have also been in the same room while right-leaning and left-leaning students go head to head discussing President Trump’s immigration policy and his travel restrictions for citizens of six Muslim-majority countries. The former argues that this was done for national security purposes, while the latter believes that this is discriminatory against Muslims and goes against America’s inclusive founding. This lasted for a couple of hours before disintegrating into a comparison of news sources and the more conservative students deciding to drop their case not because they didn’t stand by their beliefs anymore, but because of the overwhelming support against them.

On a global scale, in a Generation Z world that is increasingly conservative (Business Insider), students in largely liberal institutions sometimes forget how rare our sanctum is. Politics is a spectrum; few people will agree with each part of your philosophy. Broadly speaking, however, left-leaning students are not as tolerant of opposing beliefs as we may like to believe. For a political orientation that stands for unity and progress, our attitude to moderates and conservatives can be objectively off-putting. Each student body member has the right to participate in debate without feeling the need to curb their beliefs for fear of being labeled an extremist or too right-wing. Without discourse, imagine the standstill the world would be at today.

To some extent, one can argue that because of the overwhelming left-wing population we have at EUC, conservative students are bound to feel less comfortable expressing their opinions. Usually, though, this argument is made by a member of the majority, not the minority. In recognition of this void and in an effort to create a more embracive environment, the Writing & Journalism Co opens this column up to you, the EUC student body, to hear your thoughts on what it is like to be a conservative at our institution.

Artwork by David McCandless & Stefanie Posavec (2010)

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After reading all the other posts (and comments) responding to the question: To What Extent is There Room for Conservative World Views at EUC? I would like to state a few points; starting off with the

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