The “War on Conservatives” is Overblown

A common trope touted by Wake Forest Conservatives is that the university is lacking in outlets for conservative voices. For example, in Wake Forest’s conservative publication, The Wake Forest Review, founder Sabin Sidney, in his piece entitled Why We Exist writes, “There is a new movement arising at elite institutions. Administrators and professors continue to promote a liberal agenda of big government and social justice. Furthermore, progressive academics are trying to shield students from sensitive topics, ideas and language that might cause offense. A wave of political correctness is spreading like wildfire across universities. Students today are ever-more protected from and intolerant of dissenting (conservative) opinions.”

Sidney and his staff of like-minded students have banded together to create a sort of Breitbart-lite for our campus. The Review, a publication teeming with undertones of racism and alt-right angst, was designed so that the so-called “war on conservatism”could be combatted on our campus. The ultimate fallacy of this pursuit, however, is that this war does not exist, except for in the bitter minds of its conservative purveyors.

One major flaw of The Review’s foundation is the overwhelming contention that before their publication was established, there was no outlet on campus for conservative students to disseminate conservative ideas. This argument is a self-serving lie. 

The Old Gold and Black is decidedly non-partisan and has run many ultra-conservative pieces. Examples include Caleb Rash’s “Abortion Is Immoral And Should Not Be Legal” or Zachary Rhines’ “Health Care Is Not A Right For All In The U.S.” As the editor of the Opinion Section of our campus’ student newspaper, a paper designed to be a voice for the entire Wake Forest community, I am obligated to publish any article submitted to me liberal or conservative, just as long as it is not blatantly racist or meant to hurt a single individual on campus. If the opinion section publishes more liberal articles than conservative articles, that is because more liberals are submitting than conservatives. This makes sense, because statistically, well-educated college-age students are far more likely to lean left than they are to lean right. Further, this point is not just true with college students. In general, well-educated Americans tend to lean left.

Another flawed argument touted by The Review is that the university is systematically choosing to fund organizations that push a liberal agenda, while leaving similar, conservative organizations in the dust. In his article, “How Wake Forest Turned to the Left,” author Ryan Wolfe writes,   “Through intersectionality, the University decided that those higher in the power hierarchy, namely straight white males, needed significantly fewer resources from the University than those who are lower in the hierarchy, like African-Americans, Muslims, and women. By adopting an equity-based approach that allocated resources based on intersectionality, Wake Forest decided to not treat students equally or based on income when allocating campus life resources. Instead, they chose to distribute resources to students based on their race, gender, sexual orientation, or religion and not individual need.” This is a wild accusation to make, with little, if any, tangible evidence.

Further, if this is true (it is not), perhaps the university made the correct decision. The Wake Forest Review primarily consists of white men, and has no university funding (none was sought), yet after only a year, the students affiliated with the publication were eating barbecue in a senator’s backyard and have rented an office in the Reynolda Village. Further, there does not appear to be any left-leaning equivalent to the Wake Forest Review on campus, funded by the university or not.

Let’s get one thing straight. I absolutely and wholeheartedly support freedom of speech. I am happy The Wake Forest Review exists because the way our society reaches its best conclusions is by reviewing and squashing its worst ones.  That being said, I think the pursuit of The Review is obscenely hypocritical. Its filled with people who like to call their liberal counterparts “snowflakes” out of one side of their mouths, and argue, with little evidence, that the university is waging war against them out of the other.    

  • Tom Daly

    Wake Forest ranks highly in the US News national universities,
    However on the US News Campus Ethnic Diversity index WU badly trails its peers. (In order by academic rating)

    Princeton University 0.66
    Harvard University 0.68
    University of Chicago 0.63
    Yale University 0.66
    Columbia University 0.70
    Massachusetts Institute of Technology 0.71
    Stanford University 0.74
    University of Pennsylvania 0.65
    Duke University 0.64
    California Institute of Technology 0.66
    Dartmouth College 0.63
    Johns Hopkins University 0.69
    Northwestern University 0.63
    Brown University 0.63
    Cornell University 0.65
    Rice University 0.69
    Vanderbilt University 0.58
    University of Notre Dame 0.43
    Washington University in St. Louis 0.58
    Georgetown University 0.58
    Emory University 0.65
    University of California–Berkeley 0.68
    University of California–Los Angeles 0.71
    University of Southern California 0.68
    Carnegie Mellon University 0.68
    University of Virginia 0.51
    Wake Forest University 0.38