It’s true Conservative students have their political mettle tested through a baptism of metaphorical fire. Oh the stories I could tell about the University of Guelph.
Conservative motives run the gamut, from the strategic to the sentimental to the financial. Strategically, the university is the citadel from which progressives hold the commanding heights of the culture (to borrow a phrase from Lenin). Sentimentally, many conservatives secretly want to be academics, toiling away in the stacks with ancient books and even more ancient arguments. They feel cast out of Eden, as it were, and they want to go back. On the financial front, the higher education racket is simply a multi-billion dollar gravy train.
These motives often combine to create a conservative portrait of higher education that is bleak and apocalyptic. And while the P.C. horror stories are often accurate and the concerns often sincere, the picture painted by my fellow conservatives isn’t always complete.
There’s a powerful upside to the downside of higher education: conservative students tend to come out of universities sharper, more self-confident and more ready to rumble in ideological debates because as members of a disfavored minority, conservative students have their preconceived notions tested every day.
Obviously, there’s no shortage of sharp liberal students on college campuses, but even the sharpest ones get a lot more of their education passively, because they largely agree with what their professors and textbooks say. Their prejudices and convictions are more likely confirmed, not tested. They can go with the flow never questioning the received wisdom because the received wisdom is what they brought to the classroom in the first place.
Indeed, a new study, “Conservative Critics and Conservative College Students: Variations in Discourses of Exclusion” by sociologists Amy Binder and Kate Wood at the University of California San Diego, confirms that many conservative students at an (unnamed) elite Eastern university, felt as if they benefited from the need to sharpen their arguments and know their facts more than liberal students.
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