Cappel: Life as a conservative in the echo chamber

How does the UI benefit those with liberal views, and what does it mean for students on the other side?


Lily Smith

The Old Capitol is seen on Nov. 25, 2018.

Alex Cappel, Opinions Columnist

Cabot Phillips, the media director of Campus Reform, made his way to the Hawkeye State last week to speak about liberal privilege in America. I wanted to take a closer look at liberal privilege specifically here at the University of Iowa. I think that liberal privilege ends up being a benefit to conservative students, but I’ll circle back around to that.

Almost every single faculty member at the university sees through a liberal lens. When that is the case, you lose important diversity that leads to growth. Liberal students only hear things from their side of the issues and almost never hear a conservative argument. This is a privilege in that they don’t ever conflict in views with the people teaching them, but I think it puts them at a disadvantage in the grand scheme of things.

Liberal privilege is a huge deal in political-science classes, but that’s not the only place it lives. Rhetoric and other general-education classes have students reading literature that is effectively leftist propaganda, such as the catastrophe southern border would cause or anything by Ta-Nehisi Coates.

I’ve been in classes where I often have to make the choice to speak my mind and contradict everyone else or just be quiet. Conservative students are faced every day with the difficult task of deciding either to conform to liberal beliefs for the sake of a grade or stand up for their beliefs no matter the cost.

Conservatives could talk for hours about the specific instances in which they have seen liberal privilege. Right-leaning posters and fliers get torn down. Students get called racists for having Trump stickers on their laptops. Professors give assignments in which students are asked to determine in what ways bigotry contributed to Trump’s election. We are even asked in class if we voted for Trump in the election.

When it comes to hosting events on campus, liberal privilege seems to thrive. There is no shortage of funding from UISG for liberal organizations to host their events. Tens of thousands of dollars are thrown their way in the name of culture and diversity, but actual diversity of thought is not funded at the UI.

For activism events, liberal organizations are able to bend the rules however they want to. Administrators don’t really care about the liberal events — they give them permission and let them do as they please. As conservatives, we must follow the rules exactly as they are written.

My organization faced scrutiny when a UI administrator demanded we leave campus the minute our “Outdoor space agreement” on Kautz Plaza ended. The police showed up moments later ready to tackle the “threat” of free speech and flow of ideas on campus. At another table event, we had numerous people from the Office of Student Life assigned to monitor us for its complete duration.

I don’t say this so that I can receive pity as a conservative here on campus. If I didn’t want to feel the negative effects of my political beliefs, I’d just be quiet. I think that I benefit by being vocal about my political views.

I hear the dissenting opinions every day in class. Liberal students only hear one side of the argument and are unable to actually respond to conservative beliefs. That’s when they settle for calling us racists and bigots. I think that as a conservative in a liberal system, I actually come out of all of this ahead of the liberals who sat in an echo chamber for the last four years.