“Do you have a permit to be here”
“No, but this is the free speech zone of a public campus… so I don’t need one.”
“A what zone? You can’t just hand out offensive things without permission.”
This is a conversation I had last week while tabling at George Mason University in Fairfax, VA. After talking to the student, who was wearing a Bernie 2016 shirt, for several minutes I think I successfully taught him the meaning of the First Amendment. He left, pocket constitution in hand, and I felt good knowing that I taught something to at least one student on this campus.
George Mason is known for being a pretty conservative school. The College Republican chapter is thriving, they house the renowned conservative research institution the Mercatus Center, and they just renamed their law school The Antonin Scalia School of Law at George Mason University. Despite having conservative faculty and strong support from the Koch brothers, the students still seem rather liberal.
I’ve talked to many students on campus who have sought refuge at College Republicans. Many students will approach my Turning Point USA table and thank me for teaching conservative values. They go on to tell me that their peers judge them and call them awful names for being conservatives. They tell me that while many students preach fairness and equality, they’ll tell the conservative students to get lost. The professors will teach objective lessons about politics and economics yet students are still screaming for free college and not-so-free speech.
Many people blame the liberalness of students on the professors or administrators. While they can play a major role in the political leanings of students, I don’t think it is fair to put the blame all on them.
So who is to blame?
My guess is society. When I played soccer at the local YMCA as a 10-year-old, I was terrible. I was the worst player on the field; yet I still got the same amount of playing time as a girl who went on the play soccer at The University of Texas and I still got a trophy at the end. Why should I have gotten to play and get a trophy? Fairness. However, that isn’t fair. Giving everyone the same thing no matter what isn’t fair. Giving the star soccer player more time on the field and maybe giving the less talented a little more attention at practice is fair.
Throughout my tabling at a conservative school with liberal students I’ve learned that professors and faculty aren’t always to blame. We need to put a pressure on society to teach students what free speech is and what “free” college really means. We need to treat children fairly, but also show tough love.
But most of all, we need to keep going to campuses and pushing the conservative message.