By Kyle Woods – Guest Contributor
Tolerance is a cornerstone of American thought. Whether or not you believe in conservative or liberal ideals, it is generally understood that as Americans we should be tolerant of all viewpoints. While we have struggled with this in the past, I proudly believe that we have developed a widening tolerance in recent decades. Our tolerance and open-mindedness as a nation sets us apart as a beacon for free speech and thought. Unfortunately there has been a disturbing trend of intolerance on our campuses here recently. While students here may propagate conservative economic thinking, there are relatively few political conservatives, and to admit that you are a conservative or a Republican certainly has a stigma attached to it.
Some of the progressives here at the 5Cs are more than happy to support and promote this stigma. Supporting this stereotype elevates the partisanship of both groups, breeding more extreme thought on both sides of the aisle. When progressives immediately impose stereotypes upon Republicans or conservatives, this only deepens the resolve of Republican students and creates a more partisan atmosphere. To be a Republican on our campuses is to be an elitist snob who seeks to control women and who wants to make the rich richer and the poor poorer. This is far from the truth, and our Republican students deserve the right to be judged upon their actions and beliefs rather than stereotypes. Stereotyping against liberal or progressive students does not occur nearly as often, and it should not occur at all. All of our students deserve to have their opinions judged by their merits rather than a label.
Republican students in 5C budget hearings should not be told by members of the budgeting committee to avoid playing intramural soccer because Republicans are only good at golf. I enjoy a good joke among friends about my political beliefs, but to be told out of malice that I should stick to certain sports and avoid others due to my political beliefs is beneath the caliber of discourse we maintain at the 5Cs. It is no different than saying that liberals are weak, and as such should avoid football because they cannot handle such a violent sport. Alternatively, this low form of stereotyping is a predecessor to more invasive judgments. A student at the 5Cs, or any human being for that matter, deserves to be heard. It is unlikely they have extreme beliefs. It is more likely as a Republican that they believe in conservative economic principles, smaller government, and more freedom for the individual who deserves protection from state intrusion into their life.
I argue here not for a favorable view of the Republican Party, or that everyone should vote for Republican candidates; I’ll save that for another day. Instead, I implore the students of our campuses to support tolerance of conservative thought in the same way we support tolerance of other beliefs. I argue for reason, compromise and intellectual discourse. I’ve been here for four years now and have loved every one of them, but without a doubt there are students here whose opinions of me have been shaped entirely upon my identity as a Republican, and who think lesser of me for it. We are better than that. We are better than stereotyping, and we are better than thinking of people as nothing more than a label. We are the future leaders of this nation, and if we are not tolerant now, when will we ever be?
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