Conservative students form new club after feeling silenced on campus

by Josiah Van Wingerden |  Multimedia Specialist

Conservative students at Whitworth who may support the president feel they cannot adequately express themselves on campus without ridicule, according to a recent survey conducted by the Associated Students of Whitworth University. 

The survey, conducted February 14 collected responses from 264 students and asked if they felt comfortable sharing their political opinions freely on campus. 23 percent of the respondents feel unsafe voicing their views on campus, while 2 percent were noncommittal. A bulk of those were from conservative students, according to the survey. 

“It can be an unfriendly environment for conservatives,” a survey respondent said. “I feel like I could get my head chopped off for saying I support Trump, which is ridiculous considering he’s our president.” 

Conservative students banded together to create a new club called the Young Americans for Freedom. The club’s members seek to provide conservative students with a space to express themselves freely. The club members want to bring right-leaning speakers to campus and start a dialogue among all students. 

“You spend all this money to come into an institution to get your beliefs challenged and you figure out what the best beliefs are for yourself,” YAF club president Gabe Oros said. “You don’t come into an institution, especially one where we’re paying $53,000 a year just to have people agree with you.”

The YAF club is sponsored by communication professor Mike Ingram. It also has weekly club meetings for members discuss hot-button issues. One of the ways the club wants to achieve dialogue among students is to invite speakers such as Ben Shapiro or Angela Buchanan to talk to campus, Oros said. 
“Whenever there is a promoted speaker that is coming [to campus] that is left-leaning, it really just makes me think of the inconsistency or lack of consistency [on campus],” club vice-chairman Tanner Stepp said. “Because here they are telling us as the conservative group that if we bring in a speaker who is conservative that we need to have equal representation or equity in terms of having an opposing view. But that’s never the case if it’s a left-leaning or liberal speaker.” 

The YAF club and its members have taken a year and a half to get chartered as an official club, Stepp said.

Additionally, the club has met some strong dissent from several students, a few professors and members of ASWU, Oros and Stepp said. Both have claimed to be personally insulted as a result of who they voted for. 

“I knew that because of the students who were in the audience, because of my professor that was there who sponsored the event, I held back what I could’ve said and what I really wanted to ask,” sophomore YAF member Tyler Whitman said, referring to a discussion he attended by a left-leaning speaker. “Primarily because I knew it was not going to be responded well to amongst the people who were there.”

Oros and Stepp encourage interested students to join the email list, which has over 110 students. Students can also attend the club’s weekly meetings, either on Mondays or Wednesdays at 5 p.m. on the third floor of Weyerhaeuser. 

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