Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Talking Politics on Campus

Plenty of people have come and gone from the Spectator staff each year, as is the nature of a school paper. But in the time I’ve been here, one conversation has come up consistently, no matter who’s in the room at our meetings: the political climate on this campus makes a balanced political discussion nearly impossible.

With an important presidential election upon us, this has become especially evident this fall. Just last week, one of my professors brought up Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence as an example of someone whose views she does not agree with. She was disturbed, she said, by Pence’s recent statement that First Lady Michelle Obama has no place criticizing Pence’s running mate, Donald Trump.

But the professor quickly went on to say that she and Pence simply sees the world through different lenses, and that there’s no sense in being angry or surprised that she can’t find common ground with someone who was raised with a different set of beliefs.

I wish more professors and students would apply this kind of attitude toward political discussion, both in the classroom and otherwise. But given the environment we’re in—a very liberal school in a very liberal city—it’s not surprising that the topic is a difficult to address.

As far as I know, there are no political groups currently active at Seattle U. The couple of students who made up a Republican Party club during my freshman year have since graduated, and I’ve never known there to be a club for Democrats or third-party supporters.

The most obvious reasoning I can think of for this is that most people walk around this campus with the assumption that their peers share most of their political beliefs. And that is probably true to a certain extent—at least, much more true than it is on bigger campuses, or ones located in more politically diverse parts of the country.

Thinking of things in binaries is never a great idea, but given the way our electoral system works, it becomes unavoidable. Even so, we shouldn’t be classifying our peers into two distinctive groups, and labeling one as superior to the other.

Seattle as a city, not just this university, is a difficult place to express viewpoints that differ from the norm. This is not a new challenge for me; I grew up in Austin, a little blue dot in the overwhelmingly red state of Texas. My own ideology has always aligned pretty perfectly with the majority of the people I surround myself with. But I’m coming to see how this rarely leads to truly productive conversation, and how it can at times stifle progress.

The Spectator has written, sometimes at length, about the dangers of assuming everyone in a classroom is on the same page politically. None of this is to say that I wish professors and students wouldn’t share their own political standpoints in a classroom setting—on the contrary, I find it easier to express my own opinions in an environment where everyone, including the professor, is able to weigh in. I do, however, think more room could be made on this campus for the right-leaning members of the community.

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Jenna Ramsey, Author

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