Recent events at this campus have demonstrated what ought to be a particularly disturbing reality to many liberals here.
Conservative groups, including the Carolina Review and College Republicans among others, alleged that a meeting with Chancellor Folt and other university leaders to discuss diversity excluded them from the conversation. Campus liberals denied that this exclusion was predicated on the basis of these groups’ conservatism. Last week, liberal students organized a website critiquing some of the Student Body President candidates on the basis of their prior voting records. Conservatives responded by pointing out such actions as evidence of widespread liberal oppression of conservatives on our campus.
Now, pretend for a moment that all these allegations made by conservative groups are false. Nevertheless, the reactions of conservative groups to these actions on the part of campus liberals ought to remain problematic for campus liberals. The undeniable fact is that conservative students on this campus feel systematically oppressed. Conservatives do not feel comfortable voicing their political beliefs in classrooms. Conservatives feel that our university’s administration does not equally value their voice. Conservatives feel that many campus liberal groups aggressively criticize and critique conservative values, even on matters such as private voting records.
Of course, the feelings of conservatives may not reflect reality. But, I ask you, if any other minority group – and conservatives, undeniably, are a minority on this campus – felt oppressed, would campus liberals deride that feeling? The clear answer is that they would not. Any derision of conservatives therefore stems from ideological antagonism. If liberals see any part of the Carolina community as feeling oppressed by a larger, institutionalized majority, I hope that they would react with outrage. Otherwise they risk running counter to their own principles.
It seems, however, that even such laudable actions as Chancellor Folt meeting with conservative student leaders is a step too far for some liberal members of our community, simply because it validates the allegations of conservative students.
When should it ever be acceptable to invalidate the experiences and emotions of campus conservatives? The correct answer, indeed, the liberal answer, is never.