The Saint Louis University Oath of Inclusion reads, in part, "I will embrace people for the diversity of their identities, creating a community inclusive of race, ethnicity, sex, age, ability, faith, orientation, gender, class, and ideology." By definition, I agree with this statement. A college campus should be somewhere students are comfortable, regardless of their identity. Although we face our fair share of problems, SLU students are faculty are generally welcoming all the identities listed in the oath, except one. Many might assume that we are lacking in our treatment of race or ethnicity and although their might be work to be done there, SLU is much stronger in these areas. The identity that is most difficult for SLU students to accept is ideology, specifically political ideology. Actually, I take that back, liberal political ideologies are bred into SLU's foundation. Conservatives, however, are constantly shunned in classes, at on campus events, and throughout campus. That's not to say that I'm claiming to be "oppressed" or the victim in this situation. Actually, I believe that ascribing to a minority opinion has helped me to become more educated about the opposing ideology that most of my classmates cling to.
In another section of the Oath it states, "I will challenge my worldview through education inside and outside the classroom." My worldview is often challenged inside the classroom, but not always in a way that is beneficial for my education...or my grades. There is no denying that most members of the teaching profession, especially in higher education, ascribe to a liberal political ideology. Personally, I doesn't matter too much to me who my professors vote for, as long as our differences in opinion do not affect my learning. Unfortunately this is not always the case. Although I have had several more liberal professors help me achieve my educational pursuits regardless of my political opinion, others have not been so generous. In a theology class my freshman year, I was graded down 12% on an essay because I dared used the words "Ronald Reagan." In another course, my grade dropped significantly after I outed myself as a member of the College Republicans. Why should I and other conservatives be punished because we hold somewhat of a minority opinion at SLU? I'm not saying that SLU should fill the classrooms with conservatively biased professors to even the balance. This would be no more than a politicized version of affirmative action. I think it's simply important for my fellow SLU students to be aware of what it's like to go to class every day wondering if my disagreement with President Obama will affect my next test score. That might seem a bit dramatic, but I'm sure every other conservative at SLU can cite a time that they were unfairly targeted because of their political opinion, or at least felt excluded. On a campus that almost suffocates its students with pushes for inclusion and diversity, there is a dearth of understanding at how isolated conservatives often feel.
The overwhelming liberal bias is not simply part of our lives inside the classroom. Outside of the classroom on campus, at extracurricular events, and in university publications, conservative opinion is also stifled. The editorial and opinion pages of The University News are often filled with liberal commentary and lack conservative opinion. This makes it difficult to get all sides of any debate. Additionally, speakers on campus are notoriously liberal, which is a well known fact. Opponents of this opinion often like to cite Mike Huckabee's appearance as proof that SLU is balanced in their choice of speakers, but having one conservative presenter among dozens of liberal ones does not count as balanced. When the College Republicans tried to bring David Horowitz to speak last year, we were denied because he was thought to be too controversial. Yet commentator Tim Wise can imply that all Republicans are racists and get rave reviews from most people on campus.
The liberal bias does not stop, however, with SLU groups and institutions. It’s a large part of the atmosphere on campus. Students at SLU are expected to believe in man-made global warming, support gay marriage, and favor affirmative action. As a conservative, I simply do not fit into that box. I feel far from included politically on this campus. In fact, many of my opinions have resulted in a fair amount of social ostracism and stereotyping. For example, I am proud to say that, in regard to global warming, I think Al Gore is crazy. To me, the idea that humans can affect the weather is preposterous. Unfortunately, every climate presentation I have attended is performed with the underlying assumption that global warming (I refuse to use the politically correct “climate change”) is real. Most meteorolgy classes operate the same assumption, and if SLU pushed the “green” movement even harder, I would think it’s time to change our colors from blue and white to green and white. The same principle applies with affirmative action, but perhaps more insidiously. I believe that rewards should be based upon merit, not skin color, but unfortunately this opinion has time and time again gotten me labeled a racist and “not inclusive.” Being stereotyped in such a way really helps me feel like a part of the SLU community. Although I feel sometimes feel uncomfortable with my opinions on affirmative action and global warming, the one issue I barely discuss is gay marriage. I was born and raised a Catholic and have gone to Catholic school most of my life. Therefore, I have grown up believing that marriage should be between a man and a woman. End of story. I should not get so much flack for an opinion as simple as this, but I do. People who do not support gay marriage are often accused of denying others “civil rights” or being prejudiced. Let me be clear, I do not support the mistreatment of others based on sexual orientation. I do not treat people differently based on their orientation and rebuke those who do so. Unfortunately, this does not stop me and others who share my opinions from being falsely labeled as “prejudiced.” If you’re against affirmative action, you’re a racist. If you don’t believe in global warming, you’re denying science. If you believe in traditional marriage, you’re homophobic. How in the world does this promote inclusion? Since when is having an alternative opinion something to be ashamed of? In the end, it’s not something to be ashamed of and I no longer plan on altering my opinions to fit the whims of those around me.
To conclude, I would like to add that I am not comparing my position in an ideological minority to that of someone in a racial or ethnic minority. It’s simply not an equal comparison. There are worse things to endure than unfair grading or disapproving glances from other students. However, I do believe that it’s important for other students to be aware of how different politcal ideologies are treated on campus. I'm sick of trying to grow in political knowledge when everyone around me is telling me that my information is false, or worse, prejudiced. SLU does so much to promote “inclusion” as long as it only includes people who are part of the majority opinion. Conservatives who support voter ID laws, a small government, capitalism are rebuked. And don’t even get me started on what happens when I reveal that I’m proud to be an American. If my identity as a proud conservative, Catholic American gets me labeled as a racist, sexist or whatever, so be it. It’s ridiculous that my opinions should make me feel excluded from the SLU community. If SLU students really want to live up to the “Oath of Inclusion,” I challenge everyone to take a second look at how their political ideology affects their status on campus and to remain open minded and “inclusive” of those they disagree with