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Conservative college students shouldn't feel the need to hide their political beliefs. 

There’s no doubt that the younger generation of voters tend to lean left on the political spectrum. In 2018, there was an evident gap in the voting trend of voters 18-29 years old, with 67% of these young voters leaning Democratic, and 32% leaning Republican, according to USA Today.

There's a negative stigma associated with conservative views on college campuses among peers. According to the National Review, 73% of Republican students feel as if they have to hide their political views. While walking across the Quad, I always seemed to notice a lot of “Bernie 2020” pins on backpacks. However, I got dirty looks for displaying Trump buttons on mine and felt as if I was out of place. 

Although many students openly identify with the Democratic party, Republican students shouldn’t feel pressured to hide their political beliefs. One of JMU’s core values is diversity. It’s important for JMU to encourage diverse thought and motivate productive conversations circulating around politics.  

The National Review also states that most college professors are predominantly liberal. The NAS offers an analysis on the political views of a sample of college professors of several top schools. It concludes that 48.4% are registered Democrats and 5.7% are Republican. NAS states that professors are predominantly liberal because there seems to be an “intrinsic link between liberalism and intelligence such that the more liberal views of those with advanced degrees reflect liberals’ greater academic potential.”

Professors should make every possible effort to foster new perspectives and ways of thinking regardless of political affiliations, and productive debates should be heavily encouraged in the classroom. If professors encourage healthy debates, they should try to act as a moderator for the conversation and remain neutral.

If conservative students are feeling discouraged about finding like-minded students on campus, Turning Point USA might be an organization worth joining. According to the TPUSA website, the organization’s goal is to “build the most organized, active, and powerful conservative grassroots activist network on high school and college campuses across the country.” The organization has reached over 2,000 college campuses and features political figures such as Charlie Kirk, Candace Owens and Donald Trump Jr. 

With the upcoming election in November, it’s important to be mindful and conscious of how our peers view social issues. In order to promote insightful conversations, it’s crucial to remain level-headed and civil when sharing different political views. According to the American Psychological Association, 27% of adults agree that the political climate has placed a strain on family relationships. Even if you fundamentally disagree with others, it’s essential to find a common ground or sometimes, agree to disagree.

There will always be people who disagree over political issues. However, we can all agree that we want to do what we believe is best for our beloved country. 

Kaylee Cox is a senior media arts and design major. Contact Kaylee at coxkm@dukes.jmu.edu.