Putting the ‘Liberal’ in Liberal Arts

Finally, a study to validate my college years. No, it’s not titled “Gay Men Are the Best Men on Campus.” Still waiting on that one. But it delves into students who change politically while on campus.

But then something else happens after commencement ceremonies end and loan repayment begins.

After college, students — particularly women — move somewhat back to the right politically.

The research is the latest of several efforts by academics to lend analytical rigor to an emotional debate. Overall, college faculty lean left politically, but there’s sharp disagreement on whether they impose their views on students. The UCLA researchers are among several social scientists who have tried to undermine the argument that students respond strongly to their teachers’ opinions.

Two things here: first of all, why do women move rightward, and how far rightward? Like, back to the center? Cause I can sort of understand that, even though I can’t see it happening to me. I feel more true to myself now as a flaming liberal hippie than I ever did as a dutiful church-going conservative. So do the women who marry turn rightward? And WTF would they? I can understand changing a bit on some issues, but if you go from liberal hippie to good Republican housewife (to be fair, I don’t think the study is saying that, I’m just wildly guessing), I’m guessing you didn’t believe that strongly in progressive ideas to begin with.

As far as my college professors went, I only had to abort one gay fetus and just had to enter into one lesbian marriage (ohh, sweet Georgianna). So, really, what’s all the fuss about?

No, they’re liberal, and I love them for it. I went to college in a small East Texas town, and I’m not sure that, as the study suggests, there were more liberal-leaning groups than conservative ones, because there were a ton of Baptist groups and such. But there were liberal groups, and I hadn’t had much exposure to that. There was a diversity of thought to the college life that you don’t necessarily find growing up. So yes, there were the fundies who approached you in the library and tried to witness to you under the pretense of taking a “poll.” But there were also openly gay people and openly feminist people and some of them were even outside the theater and liberal arts departments. It was great and there were just always people thinking, it seemed. I miss that sometimes.

Other than that, I was already having some doubts about things, even if I didn’t want to really acknowledge them. I knew that I didn’t want to go to an overtly Christian college like a lot of my peers at church. So I went to a public university. And then the Iraq war happened, and I’m ashamed to say I thought it was necessary, although I cried the night of the initial invasion. Sometime between 2003 and the 2004 election, I became more liberal than not, because I voted for Kerry.

I started to find my voice, cheesy as that sounds. It wasn’t all about politics, but also about leaving the nest and starting to make your own way. I found that I preferred to make my own way as a liberal. It might have happened anyway; college just accelerated the process. It certainly doesn’t happen to everyone, but it has happened to me and a few others I know.

And those aforementioned library evangelists? Well, I wrote a column for the college paper calling them out. And got condemned in some very nasty and holier-than-thou ways. Which leads me to believe that those Christian conservative crazy groups and the people like Uncle Sally and Aunt Stan (not their real names) who roamed about trying to give away gum and tell people about Bible study kept as many butts out of church as they brought in.

So how did y’all come to Liberal Hippie Jesus? Or were you always there?



Filed under News

2 responses to “Putting the ‘Liberal’ in Liberal Arts

  1. A few turning points for me: watching the horrendously aggressive, let’s-find-a-scapegoat approach to 9/11. Second, making very close friends who happened to be gay and realizing that any government that refuses to let them have the same benefits living with someone they love for life is not a government I want to have. And finally, turning the direction of education and realizing that education funding was being repeatedly cut by a conservative government in the name of funding a war. Please don’t take books from my kids so you can put guns in the graduates’ hands.

  2. As much as I hate to admit it, I was a Republican in high school. When I registered to vote my senior year, I registered Republican. I did it because my parents were Republican and I didn’t know any better (too busy worrying about boys and passing algebra to think about politics). But when I entered college, I met lots of different people, I read more, thought more and began to realize the party I was affiliated with (albeit, very loosely), wasn’t the party for me. I believed in equal rights for everyone, I believed in fair taxation, I believed in conservation and environmental preservation, I believed in trying every means available before going to war. And seven years after graduation, with each passing year, I get even more liberal.

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