Senior Column: It’s true: I survived college without becoming a liberal

As I began and ended my college experience in tandem with a Trump presidency, it is important to highlight the robust political environment the University of Iowa provides for students like me.



Marina Jaimes, Opinions Columnist

Reflecting on my last piece for The Daily Iowan, one thing in particular comes to mind about the graduating class of 2020: our college years were dominated by national politics.

From the moment we walked onto campus as freshmen, we were asked if we were registered to vote and for whom we planned to cast our ballots. We fell into groups where we quietly shared our opinions and feared being ostracized for deviating from the norm. Only a few months into the fall 2016 semester, Donald Trump’s successful presidential bid bred extremely politically engaged students — on all ends of the political spectrum.

Although tensions were at an all-time high following the election, students of all affiliations have since worked to promote their party’s platform without being stifled by university administrators. In particular, Republican students at the University of Iowa counter a narrative that has been painted about campuses across the nation — they are not silenced nor threatened, but given equal tools to succeed as their liberal counterparts.

Four years here have given me the opportunity to lead a conservative student organization, bring speakers to campus, advocate for campus free-speech bills, appear on Fox and Friends, and write, lead, and copy edit as a columnist here at the DI, where my right-of-center opinions have been published weekly for nearly three years.

This isn’t to say that conservative students and their ideas are welcomed with open arms — I don’t think that’s the case on any campus. But students in search of a university that accepts intellectual diversity and encourages political engagement, with groups such as nonpartisan Hawk the Vote and Hawkeye Caucus, have found such in the UI.

My college experience is proof that being a first-generation American, first-generation college student, and outspoken Republican did not hinder my success at the UI — contrary to what I believed before attending. The UI has several departments, administrators, and programs dedicated to ensuring that students like me succeed, but the resource I valued most was a campus where I could express my views freely without influence or intervention.

Through being so vocal and willing to engage in civil discussion, I learned that my love for politics was not tribal — it was merely expressing the ideals in which my family sought in their move to America. I discovered that much of my political identity consists of those ideals — life, liberty, and property — and hope to spend my career defending them.

In a few days, I will graduate and embark in a journey of service in which the UI has properly prepared me for. I’ll leave knowing I am more open-minded than when I arrived in fall 2016, had professors who challenged my perspective yet allowed me to stand firm in my beliefs, and helped foster an environment where students of all backgrounds and viewpoints can thrive. It’s completely possible to leave higher education without being indoctrinated and, instead, empowered to speak of your political beliefs and opinions.

Thanks for everything, UI.

“And any man who may be asked in this century what he did to make his life worthwhile, I think can respond with a good deal of pride and satisfaction: ‘I served in the United States Navy.’ ” — President John F. Kennedy