The narrative at UNC Greensboro today is extraordinarily one-sided. Echo chambers of conformity consume the university’s otherwise intellectual landscape. We are often told what to think, as opposed to being taught how to think. Ever-increasingly, we are expected to hold the same worldview, without questioning whether that worldview is the right one. Coming to your own conclusions about politics, lifestyle, religion and morality is frowned upon by some at the university because doing so goes against the deeply flawed narrative that is spun and spoon-fed to everyone by the powers that should not be. Daring to have a different opinion from everyone else in matters of life will get you endless admonition from both students and administrators. I say it’s time we change that. It’s time we lift the veil that’s been hiding quintessential aspects of the truth. It’s time to challenge the narrative.
Numerous studies have shown that conservatives feel as if their beliefs are unwelcome on college campuses all across the country. Particularly here in North Carolina, The FECD Report done by UNC System researchers, and UNC Chapel Hill’s student newspaper, The Daily Tar Heel, found that conservatives do not feel as if they can express their beliefs on their college campus. It is far past time that we ask the question: Why?
One possible explanation could be that universities have become centers of indoctrination, hellbent on silencing those who do not fall in line. Those who do not fit into the arbitrarily ideal ‘box’ of a modern college student, such as those who hold conservative beliefs and values, are often ostracized and condemned.
In an age where believing in the existence of objective truth makes you appear to some a dangerous extremist, it is considered dangerous and extreme to form an opinion based on the truth. This drastically contributes to conservatives feeling unwelcome on college campuses like UNCG. However, conservatives have a rich history at UNCG, and this has been well documented over the decades.
The Carolinian publication for Friday Dec. 3, 1965 mentioned YAF hosting “Debate-Ins” about the topic of Vietnam, at a time when conflict in Southeast Asia was raging and the question of US involvement was one often asked. The Carolinian proves that YAF has a history at UNCG: one of fostering productive debate and encouraging respectful civil discourse.
Matt Wallace, a member of the College Republicans during the 1990s, has a blog called Matt Wallace’s The Compleat Heretic. Wallace wrote a column that was published in The Carolinian, titled, “Traditional values come out on campus.” Wallace’s description of putting flyers up around campus sounds more familiar than I would like to admit. YAF’s efforts to put up flyers to spread the word of our chapter hosting Ben Shapiro and Michael Knowles were met shortly thereafter with others tearing them down. At points, we even had administrators tell us that we could not put our flyers in certain areas, despite the fact that other student groups were putting, and had put, their flyers in the exact same spot. This suggests that it was not where we were posting, but what we were posting that they had a problem with. In other words, it wasn’t the method, but rather, the message.
One statement from Matt Wallace’s article is quite the mic drop: “…those who screech the loudest for ‘tolerance’ and ‘diversity’ find it useful to selectively apply them when confronted with an opposing point of view.” I, along with several others, have witnessed this ring especially true.
The College Republicans also brought Horace Cooper to UNCG to spread alternative points of view, and as Wallace described it, to “correct the unhealthy political imbalance.” Even back then, Wallace notes, UNCG had become a “stifling leftist atmosphere.”
In a 2006 joint letter to Chancellor Sullivan, the College Republicans and College Libertarians addressed their concerns with the non-discrimination policy that student groups had to sign. This policy is a topic that came up with the controversy surrounding YAF’s social media post of Ben Shapiro’s quote in the spring semester of 2022. Some at UNCG made the case that YAF violated the non-discrimination policy by posting the quote, “Men cannot become women. Women cannot become men. Men who believe they are women are not real women.” However, expressing what by all measures is a form of protected political speech, is not discriminatory in nature. Yet, some still pointed to the non-discrimination policy in an effort to ban YAF from campus. This topic is not new, and the reasoning from the side targeting the College Libertarians and College Republicans is the same reasoning from the same kind of people targeting Young Americans for Freedom now.
Lest we forget, so-called “free speech zones” existed here on UNCG’s campus in violation of students’ First Amendment rights by restricting their free speech.
When the College Republicans tried to bring Dinesh D’Souza to speak at UNCG in 2017, they faced unjust treatment from the university, reinforcing a double standard against conservatives.
Now let’s look at today. Conservatives still face immense hurdles and discrimination at colleges like UNCG. One has to look no further than all that the Young Americans for Freedom chapter has faced when expressing conservative points of view. The aforementioned example of our flyers being torn down as well as bureaucratic obstacles being put up in attempts to inhibit YAF, serve as a reminder of this. Furthermore, there are many at UNCG who hold conservative views who feel as if they cannot openly express their beliefs because of the possible social and academic consequences for doing so.
Congressman Ron Paul, echoing the message of George Orwell’s book, “1984,” wisely stated, “Truth is treason in the empire of lies.” When the marketplace of ideas is not allowed, it is impossible to truly have varying perspectives. Despite all of the pandering from some at UNCG that we hear about “diversity,” diversity of thought and opinion seem to have been left out. For all of the lip service that some at UNCG pay to “inclusivity,” the inclusion of those who hold beliefs that happen to be different from theirs seems to be invisible. For as much as they talk about “tolerance,” where is the tolerance for those who have values that don’t align exactly with their own?
Symbolic of the ideological monopoly on campus was the blowing of a whistle to disrupt Michael Knowles from speaking at his April 5 lecture, “Not Your Body, Not Your Choice,” in the EUC Auditorium. The heckler’s veto, as it is commonly known, is a tactic used to shut down alternative points of view. Attempting to shut down and censor others simply because they have a different set of personal values is a go-to strategy for some at UNCG.
What are those who try to silence our students afraid of? Why do they want to prevent conservatives from speaking? Why don’t they want you to hear other points of view? What threat does the student group YAF pose to them? Could it be that the opening of freedom of thought and opinion, honest debate and a renewed campus culture, will deconstruct their ideological monopoly?
It’s time to challenge the narrative. It’s time we lift the veil that’s been hiding quintessential aspects of the truth. It’s time we dismantle the empire of lies so that truth may light the way.
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