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Education

Is UNC a Welcoming Place for Conservative Students?

Colleges and universities always tell us that they want diversity, but the wrong kind of diversity can make you an outcast.

In today’s Martin Center article, Patterson Sheehan shares her experience as a student at UNC -Chapel Hill. She writes, “It is alienating to be a conservative in Chapel Hill. In many of my classes, the word ‘Republican’ holds the same weight as the word ‘Duke’ at best or ‘racist’ at worst (as a classmate directly told me). In a bathroom stall in Lenoir (the main dining hall on campus), someone etched the words ‘It’s not okay to be a Republican because it harms people.’”

UNC has an intellectual monoculture that’s overwhelmingly leftist. That’s the case for the faculty, which has very few professors who aren’t Democrats or further out. But, Sheehan writes, the students are more aggressive in asserting their views: “The brunt of the intolerance I have felt has not been from my overwhelmingly left-leaning professors, but from other students. From my first day at Carolina, I recognized the liberal ideology that students were expected to conform to. The student culture demands assimilation while calling it openness and acceptance. I think that professors are generally wary of directly condemning a position, but students are not.”

Sheehan thinks that conservatives shouldn’t hide their views or pretend to believe ideas they don’t. “Resist the social pressure to conform to liberal ideology. Hostility too easily boils up in the classroom, so healing must develop in its place. That change starts with students who embrace opposition in opinions and professors who nurture those differences,” she concludes.

George Leef is the the director of editorial content at the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.

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