Campus News

Conservative students feel more welcome on campus, climate results show

Conservative speakers like Ben Shapiro have drawn criticism from liberal organizations on the UW-Madison campus. 

Image By: Andrew Bahl

Amid a battle over free speech on the UW-Madison campus, the university's campus-wide climate survey revealed that politically conservative students were more likely than liberal students to feel safe on campus.

While 84 percent of conservative students reported feeling safe “very or extremely” often, just 75 percent of liberal students said they felt similarly. Additionally, 77 percent of students who identify as conservative said they felt as if they belong on campus, whereas only 67 percent of liberals agreed with that statement.

For Eliana Locke, a representative of College Democrats of UW-Madison, this finding was no surprise. Locke said that due to the “fewer number of conservative organizations on campus,” conservative students tend to congregate in just a couple organizations, making it “much easier for them to feel more welcome.”

According to Locke, the university can do more to promote bipartisanship by encouraging voting and active dialogue to make members of both political groups feel engaged.

“The university can start with promoting voting and civic engagement because I think that’s a problem that a lot of college campuses have,” Locke said.

Although the survey reported that there are more students who identified as liberal than conservative — with 4,477 liberal and 1,568 conservative students taking the “representative” survey — more conservative students reported feeling respected on campus.

Despite this fact, Emelia Rohl, a College Republicans of UW-Madison spokesperson, said that she felt the survey was unrepresentative of students who are active in campus politics.

“Conservative students on campus have a variety of majors and some may not face the same criticism that conservative activists or conservative students involved in politics might face on campus,” Rohl said.

In order to make the campus more diverse and welcoming, Rohl said she hopes that university administration will value the diversity of thoughts and opinions of students, including those who are conservative.

Tyler Brandt, a representative of Young Americans for Liberty whoidentifies as a libertarian, said he thinks some students’ views are discriminated against due to political polarization.

Brandt said he hopes that the study will cause the university to hold more events where different political groups can discuss their differences. According to Brandt, YAL hopes different political groups will begin to communicate with each other and realize “we are all students here.”

“We hope to bridge the gap between political groups because obviously there is a disconnect,” Brandt said. “Just talking to each other is hopefully the way we can move forward with that.”

UPDATE Nov. 7 at 3:26 p.m.: Emelia Rohl's name has been updated to its correct spelling. The Daily Cardinal regrets this error. 

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