“As a conservative, I did not feel welcome to share my political views on campus, whether in the classroom or with peers,” Brom Kostelecky, a 2017 Harvard University graduate, said. “One of the things I unfortunately learned at Harvard was to keep my mouth shut about my beliefs unless I wanted to invite a close-minded and judgmental stream of animosity from others.”

Kostelecky highlighted a concern that many conservative college students are feeling in today’s political climate: a suffocation from overwhelmingly liberal college campuses. This fear does not come from the ideas of the leftist party across the aisle, but rather, the inability to freely share their own contrary viewpoints.  Whether or not you are a current college student, this predicament is a pressing one, single-handedly calling attention to just how accessible and equal the right to freedom of speech is for all Americans.  

“Conservative academic administrators, students, and professors fear that they will be canceled for expressing viewpoints deemed unacceptable by the progressive ideologies ruling over college campuses,” National Association of Scholar Communications and Research Associate David Acevedo said. The basis for Acevedo’s response to the issue comes from the Overton Window Political Model.  This political model describes a range of political policies acceptable by the mainstream population.  In Acevedo’s research, he has been able to prove through a series of case studies that radical academics and bureaucrats have shifted the window steadily leftward.  Thus, there is a lack of acceptance for conservative beliefs and rhetoric on college campuses.

This lack of free speech on college campuses across the United States is not only a breach of the First Amendment, but also a gross injury to the teachings of the American education system.  Is school, both at the secondary and college level, not a place where your thoughts and beliefs are meant to be challenged?  Places of learning are meant to grow you as both a student and as an individual by placing you in an environment with various people, cultures and viewpoints. It is from this diversity that we are able to shape our own personal dogmas and moral compasses. With this lack of Republican theory, university students are lacking a detrimental area to their political knowledge. 

However, Stony Brook University sophomore student Rojean Minian has a different take on the topic: “You have to think about how education pushes students to look for new ideas and exchange those ideas with peers, so in a way that reflects a liberal mindset on its own.” Minian pointed out that U.S. universities are built to be liberal grounds.  “You’re constantly opening your mind to new things, meeting people from different backgrounds and cultures, and you’re taught critical thinking, so that just makes you more open minded and I guess therefore more liberal.”  Marist College sophomore student Sara Rabinowitz shared a similar sentiment.  In regards to college campuses being too liberal, she responds, “No I think they should be more liberal, if anything.”  Perhaps many college students do not mind the rise in their liberal surroundings. Some seem to embrace it.  

The rise in liberal domination in education centers is not entirely an unwelcome one.  In recent years, the liberal social agenda has been accredited with supporting all groups – from the LGBTQ+ community to Black, Indigenous, and other people of color.  Social harmony and acceptance is nothing to be frowned upon, but the lack of free speech should be. Although this is a pressing and timely matter, Acevedo seems to be one of the only researchers currently involved in monitoring the predicament.  It is for this reason that I was prompted to delve into my own research project aimed at identifying the effects of ‘cancel culture’ on the selection of commencement speakers at universities.  My project has the objective of identifying whether or not top universities and colleges in the United States are electing to choose more liberal-leaning speakers to avoid backlash from the student population. It is research like this that is necessary to identify whether this predicament is a growing national concern.  Either way, only time will tell what higher education has in store, and boy are my fingers crossed for the best!