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Conservative Students Fear Intense Backlash for Talking Politics, Study Finds

Conservative students fear the most backlash for sharing their political views, according to a new study conducted by Heterodox Academy, a group of professors working to support viewpoint diversity in academia. “Our preliminary results suggest that students fear discussing racial issues the most and that their greatest concern is criticism from their peers,” writes Sean Stevens, the group’s research director.

According to the study, conservative kids are the most likely to fear that their political views could be criticized as “offensive,” and they are most likely to fear retaliation from professors in the form of lower grades.

Conservative students also indicate the most fear of being reported to the administration for thought-crime, according to the results. This means students don’t just fear social backlash, but administrative punishment, too. Considering that most colleges have mechanisms to sanction wrong-thinkers, students have a valid concern.

According to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Higher Education (FIRE), almost 40 percent of colleges in the U.S have “severely restrictive” speech policies designed to prevent offensive remarks on the basis of race, gender, and class. An expression of conservative views (for example: that illegal immigration poses a serious threat to the country) could easily be considered a violation of policy at many of these schools, if overheard by a liberal student.

Further compounding the problem, more than 200 colleges play host to Bias Response Teams, which actively encourage students to report “hate speech” and “bias incidents” on campus. Since more than 40 percent of these teams include members of campus law enforcement, conservative students also have to fear rebuke from campus security guards and police officers, too.

PJ Media spoke with a few college students to learn how they feel about talking politics on campus. Both conservative and libertarian students agreed that students on their campus could face backlash and ostracism for sharing political opinions.

Liberty Fuchs, a psychology major at Santa Monica City College, told PJ Media that talking politics on campus can be tricky. Fuchs, whose father was from Communist Romania, said she identifies as a libertarian, and that she enjoys sharing many of her political views with her peers on campus.

“I found that most students haven't even heard libertarian stances,” Fuchs said. “How can they know they disagree with me if they've never heard what I think?”

While Fuchs said she is open about her libertarian views, and even goes out of her way to share conservative viewpoints with her peers “in an attempt to humanize the demonized party,” she said she shies away from sharing her thoughts on racial issues.

“When it comes to Black Lives Matter and the question of what really is holding back certain communities that mostly consist of people of color, I stay silent. Even though these issues are very important to me, no one wants to hear a white girl talk about race issues, even if my views are fairly pragmatic.”