Being a minority at LMU is extremely difficult. Every day, I get the impression that the majority of students and even the faculty do not care about my interests. The atmosphere of hostility is quite palpable. The expected response to this implicit condemnation would be to demand a safe space in which to express my grievances. The only problem is that I am a different kind of minority: a conservative Republican.
My description of myself as a minority may come as a surprise to many readers because I do not fit into any of the normal categories. I am a white, straight male; why would anyone pity me?
LMU, like most universities, claims to value diversity of all kinds. To this end, it has announced solidarity with African American, Hispanic, Muslim, LGBTQ and undocumented students on various occasions. There is just one category not included in this broad span: conservatives. The administrators who run this University have neglected to support people who might disagree with their liberal views. This is a glaring contradiction of their tolerant and inclusive message and reveals that they don’t practice what they preach.
One example of this neglect of conservative views was a recent Pizza and Politics event on Donald Trump held in the campus political science village in January. Three prominent professors engaged in a panel discussion about the implications of Trump’s recent inauguration and analyzed the situation from a variety of perspectives: liberal, more liberal and most liberal. That’s right – not one of the professors provided a conservative perspective on Trump and why some people might actually support his policies.
Such a lack of viewpoint diversity on college campuses is extremely dangerous because it encourages groupthink, defined by Merriam-Webster as “a pattern of thought characterized by self-deception, forced manufacture of consent, and conformity to group values and ethics.” Because there is no visible ideological disagreement with regard to the issues, people assume that everyone else thinks the same way. The result is that college campuses isolate themselves in bubbles detached from reality.
In addition, lack of viewpoint diversity encourages radicalism. Because students are led to believe that no alternative views exist, it is a major shock to their system when someone dares to voice disagreement.
This environment makes college campuses extremely conducive to the formation of intolerant leftist radical groups who cannot accept challenges to their established orthodoxy. This danger was made clear at UC Berkeley on Feb. 1, when militant left-wingers reacted fiercely to the planned speech of libertarian provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos on campus. In the face of massive pressure, administrators canceled the speech. However, the activists rioted anyway, starting fires and causing thousands of dollars in property damage to the university.
Don’t get me wrong, I value the time I’ve spent at LMU and will become a proud alum once I graduate in May. Still, administrators must be cognizant of the dangerous path down which groupthink leads. While the incident at UC Berkeley was an extreme case, LMU still suffers severely from this condition. The only way to cure it is for the University administrators and professors to take a look in the mirror and ask themselves whether or not they are truly promoting diversity for everyone.