Opinion | It’s up to all of us to increase political freedom of speech on campus

Republicans on campus shouldn’t be stereotyped or afraid to speak up.


Ryan Adams for the Daily Iowan

Anti-mask protesters stand in the rotunda of the Iowa State Capitol building before the opening of the 2021 legislative session on Monday, Jan. 11, 2021. Despite Gov. Kim Reynold’s emergency proclamation mandating masks worn when social distancing indoors is not possible, house republicans made the announcement last week that masks would not be required during the session.

Ally Pronina, Opinions Columnist

My former professor said any kid who identifies as gay or lesbian and grows up in a conservative household will be oppressed.

This accusation makes it seem like you cannot be queer and conservative, and all conservatives are homophobic. However, Peter Thiel, a conservative who identifies as gay, spoke at the Republican National Convention after the 2016 election.  As someone who can’t have biological kids, I’ll be happy with either a queer or straight kid. It’s not right to automatically label a conservative transphobic or homophobic without asking about their views first.

Despite people assuming conservatives are transphobic or homophobic, many of us support LGBTQ rights. For example, a survey found 61 percent of Republicans support anti-discrimination in housing, employment, and public accommodations for gay and transgender people. According to a 2020 poll by the Public Religion Research Institute, over half of Republicans support same-sex marriage.

Conservatives need to add to diversity of opinion on campus by speaking out, but people also need to stop stereotyping us.

Micah Broekemeier, a UI junior majoring in history who is conservative, said conservatives need to speak out more. He said he wore MAGA hats and Trump shirts on campus and did not receive any hate on-campus for doing so.

“During the election cycle, whatever candidate I supported, I wore it on my sleeve,” Broekemeier said.

While I’m glad Broekemeier has never felt any hate toward him because he is a conservative, there have been incidents of conservative beliefs being silenced at other universities. At the University of Northern Iowa, their student government denied a Student for Life group a chance to register as a student organization based on the claim they included “hateful rhetoric.”

UNI president Mark Nook overruled the senators’ decision. However, a conservative group of students should not have to go through all this trouble to have their First Amendment rights granted.

At my first homecoming at the University of Iowa in 2018, the UI College Republicans (UICRs) talked about how they were going to get booed and spit on while marching in the parade. On May 4, the UICRs drew chalk drawings, and students poured water on them.

Later on, the University of Iowa released a statement and updated chalk policy to reflect a change in the state Board of Regents’ policy manual to protect free speech on campus.

I understand conservatives not speaking up due to fear of mistreatment. The hate stems from people making assumptions about conservative without hearing us out. Instead, we should be asked about our beliefs rather than just people making assumptions.

Despite many generalizations such as Republicans being called “ableists,” I’m pro-life because I think it’s heartbreaking so many others with disabilities are denied a chance at life because of abortion.

While conservatives may be the minority political party on campus, we shouldn’t be stereotyped without asking our beliefs first. Conservatives on campus shouldn’t be afraid to speak about their beliefs because they’re worried people will make assumptions about us such as being homophobic.

Liberals and conservatives need to contribute to diversity of speech. Liberals need to become more open-minded and accepting of conservatives, and Republicans on campus need to start speaking up.

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.