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Political views on campus

This article was written December 2016.

November 2016 marked a new era of politics. Despite controversy, lawsuits and incorrect published winner predications, President-elect Donald Trump took the presidential election victory with a 306-to-232 electoral vote, according to the 270 to Win website.

Immediately following the election, San Diego State students began using their classrooms and campus as means to discuss the election.

On Nov. 10, hundreds of students, faculty, staff and community members alike rallied around campus protesting Trump and intolerance on campus as well as in the nation, according to the Facebook event page for the protest.

While hundreds of students against Trump actively express their sentiments on campus, there are a smaller amount of Trump supporters who said they aren’t able to express their political views without feeling ostracized.

SDSU student and Trump supporter John Weil said he feels thrown aside by the university.

“It’s like I’m in a very small community of people (on campus) who are Republican,” Weil said.

Weil said most of the Republicans he knows don’t discuss their political views on campus for fear of judgement.

“(Professors) commented on their own political views in almost every single one of my classes, and I was extremely upset with the fact that San Diego State did not have a proper way to regulate what the professors talked about in class,” Weil said. “It was extremely unprofessional, and I actually have a lower view of San Diego State after that.”

Weil said because he doesn’t feel comfortable expressing his views on campus, he has a group of friends he actively discusses politics with.

“Without that we feel like we’re basically the minority in politics,” Weil said.

Weil said beyond his group of friends, he receives negative comments because of his views.

“Every part of my daily life is considered negative now just because I voted a different president than someone else,” Weil said.

Weil isn’t alone in his fear of safety.

On Nov. 9, a Muslim woman on campus was victim to hate crime, robbery and vehicle theft by two men who made comments to her regarding Trump and the Muslim community, according to a community safety alert sent to the SDSU community by the SDSU Police Department.

Weil said he did not pay attention to this hate crime on campus.

“I don’t check any of those emails or follow the on-campus trends because most of them are just a one-day fad where everyone posts on Facebook, which has no purpose and really no one cares to be honest,” Weil said. “They just want to comment on Facebook so they look like a good person, and it moves on. So I just ignore everything and go about my daily life, and so no, it has not affected me.”

Communication Professor Luke Winslow, however, said he feels it is his responsibility to address hate crimes and oppression.

“People like me are going to be fine,” Winslow said. “I have a good job, and I’m white, and I’m tall, and I get my healthcare through my job, and I’m kind of isolated. But if you’re brown, particularly if you’re a single mother, if you’re a Muslim, if you live in another part of the country, if you have an unplanned pregnancy, if you’re not as privileged, Trump’s presidency means something different for you. I’m not going to get beat up because Trump won. But someone else might.”

Winslow teaches multiple communication classes on campus, including Communication and Politics.

He said many of his students like to discuss Trump in particular.

“‘Why Donald Trump? What happened?’ … I don’t have a very good answer,” Winslow said. “But it makes for good discussions. … One of my students said something like, ‘He’s the devil.’ And I said, ‘Well, he’s not the devil. This is bad what he did and said. But he’s not the devil.’ And it’s important to make that distinction.”

Winslow said he worries about groupthink occurring because his class has a somewhat anti-Trump climate.

“I’m very careful to create space for all reasonable opinions to be heard and to feel valued,” Winslow said. “There was a student in this class I taught in the spring that was a vocal Trump supporter. There haven’t been any in this fall. I would bet that there’s probably several people that either voted for him or supported him in the class, but no one has said it.”

Political Science Professor Stephen Goggin said social pressure is a big deal on campus and in this election.

“That’s why you have ‘I voted’ stickers,” Goggin said. “We know social pressure can influence engagement and turn out and stuff.”

He said that political opinions can depend on those around you, college students included.

“People don’t like to rock the boat,” Goggin said. “Whenever you ask people their opinions, people want to not appear bad. This pressure can definitely influence what people say and make that different than what they’re actually doing.”

SDSU student and Trump supporter Jolene McKee said she tries to avoid discussing politics while on campus.

“It’s just kind of a headache sometimes,” McKee said.

She said she has experienced harassment on campus after the election results were announced.

“There was a day … I wore my ‘Make America Great Again’ hat and was harassed by students in my class, and my car was vandalized,” McKee said. “There was a professor who yelled at me down the hallway (because I support Trump). It is a bummer that you can’t openly discuss your political views just because it’s very liberalized.”

McKee said she doesn’t think faculty and staff do a good job at preventing incidents like hers from occurring.

On Nov. 17, California State University (CSU) Chancellor Timothy P. White sent out an open letter to faculty, staff and students of the CSU system.

“I write to provide assurance that we will continue to make every effort to provide a safe and welcoming campus environment for all our students, faculty, staff, alumni and members of the community,” White said in the open letter.

SDSU student Andrew Dyer said despite attempts to be inclusive of all ideologies, faculty and staff are still set in their own beliefs.

“We saw huge protests on campus against the police and after the election of Trump,” Dyer said. “There’s a lot of faculty, if not participating, on the sidelines of those protests. That was supported.”

Although he is a registered Democrat, Dyer said his beliefs aren’t fully represented on campus either.

“I think the college community is one that is supportive of progressive ideas,” Dyer said. “I think they’re not as progressive as they think they are. I see a lot of resistance to actual progressive ideas.”

Dyer said, however, when he talks to people on campus with different political beliefs, the conversation is always civil. He said he aims to find common ground.

“I know a lot of conservative students feel like their views aren’t welcome on campus, and they feel like they can’t speak out,” Dyer said. “But I do not feel my views are being suppressed in that way, if views are even being suppressed. It’s an if. But I understand why they feel that way.”

He said that the stigma against Trump supporters is due to all the controversy surrounding Trump during his campaign.

“If you consider yourself a Trump supporter, there’s a lot of things that go along with that, including this perception of Islamophobia and anti-immigrant bias, which everyday during the campaign, he was talking about these things,” Dyer said. “So whenever you come out and say, ‘I support Trump,’ people are going to rightly or wrongly assume you’re maybe Islamophobic or against immigrants. Whether or not that’s fair, that comes with the territory.”

Dyer said the passion in this election is why politics have become so personal.

“If I’m a Trump supporter, maybe my support for him doesn’t run as deep as some people’s hate for him,” Dyer said. “Some people dislike him at a level I don’t support him at. I think were I a Trump supporter, there’s no way people are even going to hear me. It’s just gone too far with his rhetoric.”

SDSU student Jack Sellas said as a Trump supporter, he feels people won’t listen to his views.

“The second you say one differing (opinion), a screen blocks off. ‘Oh, you vote for Trump?’ A shield comes on and blocks the whole thing,” Sellas said. “That does sometimes happen. … It gives people with different beliefs thicker skin.”

Sellas said he ultimately feels comfortable disclosing his support for Trump on campus because most people can hold a conversation without tension.

Student Will Fritz said students who support Trump should be willing to speak up.

“I had a roommate last year who was a Trump supporter, and he told me last year, ‘I don’t really say anything.’ He has a Trump hat, and he said, ‘I want to wear it, but I don’t want to,’” Fritz said. “Okay, like I think your political opinions are stupid, but they’re your opinions. On one hand I disagree with you, but on the other hand you should own it. It’s your opinion. Don’t be afraid to say it. You’re entitled to your own opinion.”

Afraid to Post Online

One thing that has remained constant about myself is my interest in the internet. Who can resist? When I was younger, I used to spend hours on the AOL Kids Chatrooms. I would draw dogs using characters (like this (/(*.*)\). Clearly, I still have artistic skills) and talk about the Suite Life of Zack and Cody. Then, one day, I did something that I will never live down. I must have been nine or ten. Instead of “LOL” or “XD,” I typed out “LMAO” in the AOL Kids Chatroom. Because of a simple letter A, I got my entire family suspended from our AOL email accounts. Not only did I have to admit to my parents that they wouldn’t be able to check their emails for 24 hours, I had to tell them why. I couldn’t even do it — I don’t even know if I knew what LMAO stood for back then. Yet, even though I typed it online, I had to face the repercussions.

Since that moment, I knew what I said online would have an impact. Even though you are alone in front of a computer, you are broadcasting to the entire world. There is clear and evident proof that what you say online is really what you said. That I know, and that I had learned.

Once I got to the middle school age, Myspace was huge. I actually wrote a five paragraph persuasive essay to my parents for them to finally allow me to get one. This was in eighth grade, so luckily my selfies weren’t too embarrassing, and I never posted anything I would regret. But around this time, Facebook was becoming increasingly popular, so I joined it as well. I had no hesitation adding my parents, sister, cousins, and older family friends. I knew I would never post anything I didn’t want them to see.

More people my age were different. They didn’t add their parents, because they didn’t want their parents to see the things they were posting. I feel like my generation grew up with social media being our generation’s thing, so people utilize it as an outlet. They post their innermost thoughts and feelings. They post what they’re eating and where they’re going. Around four years ago, everyone was scared people from school would find their Tumblr blogs, but I encouraged everyone to follow me so they could see the funny gifs of Chandler Bing and cute puppies that I reblogged.

Now, as everyone my age is growing into mature (some more than others) young adults, either pursuing an education or entering into the workforce, we no longer base our entire internet usage on looking at cute puppy pictures (at least not as much, anyway), but now actually care about current events and things happening that are truly affecting us. Whether the conversation is flocking around Caitlyn Jenner, or the Confederate flag, or Cecil the lion, or raising the minimum wage, people are talking about it. I love seeing people getting involved in these important conversations. But what scares me is how strongly and passionately involved people get.

Don’t get me wrong, I have an opinion about everything I have mentioned, plus so many more. But, for some reason, I can’t bring myself to join the conversation about it online. If someone discussed with me my stance on something in person, I love discussing it with them. But as soon as it comes to online, I get anxious.

Everyone who gives their opinions online has a strong, unbreakable opinion. I have read Facebook fight after Facebook fight, wondering if I should give my two cents. But almost every fight I have read on Facebook is just that — a fight. It isn’t a polite discussion about two different stances on, say, abortion. It is a full blown fight.

Have you ever typed a sarcastic text out to a friend but they take it seriously and get offended? But you didn’t mean it seriously; You were joking. Your friend doesn’t know that, because they read it and interpreted it differently. That is how I feel many of the fights we see on Facebook are caused. Someone means something different, but someone else interprets it in a direction 180 degrees from the first person. Then suddenly people are throwing out phrases such as, “If you don’t understand that, you’re part of the problem,” or “This is naive,” or “Shut up, you’re wrong and a terrible person and you should just leave the country.” (I added the last one in for some comic relief, but I’m sure that has been thrown around too.) It is far too hard to put something into words without offending someone.

Once I simply corrected someone on a status about an American flag. After posting it, I called my mom immediately. My palms were sweaty, and my heart was beating at an abnormal rate. “Oh my God, Mom. I started a Facebook fight.” In the end, no one even replied to my comment. In this case, I was probably just being dramatic (as always). If I’m this nervous to post something that in the end wasn’t even a big deal, I cannot even imagine how I would react if I posted my political opinions online.

I love discussing issues in person. When it comes to online, I avoid discussions at all costs. As much as my love for the internet has remained constant throughout the years, I don’t find it a safe place anymore. And with issues becoming more important to young adults, and conversations becoming even more vital, I don’t know what the future will be for the internet.

On that note, please share your opinion about this if you feel inclined to do so. 

But no fighting, or I will be scared.

The Freshmen 15 You Do Need

I just recently completed my first year of college. Everyone says time flies, but you really do not believe them until you experience it firsthand. This time last year, I was nervous, excited, anxious — you name it — for college to begin. I would google “advice for freshman in college,” watch YouTube videos with people discussing their college experiences, and pin all kinds of college tips and tricks on Pinterest. Now that I am on the other side of the long awaited freshman year of college, I thought it would be fun to make my own list of advice. Rather than it all come from me, I asked other college students from a variety of schools what advice they would give to someone getting ready for college in the fall. Without further ado, here are the fifteen best pieces of advice from college students for college students.

“Be comfortable with change. Your high school friend group might fall apart. Your relationships might not work out. Your schedule is going to be completely different. But it’s all good.” -Chrissy, Elmhurst College

“Transitioning into a new environment can be hard, especially if you are a long ways from home. The best advice I can give with that situation is make friends, go out and do activities you’ll love, and call home as many times as you want when you’re feeling homesick.” -Taylor, Oregon State University

“My advice would be to be true to who you are when you are meeting new people. If you aren’t yourself, you will make friends for the wrong reasons and it will eventually crumble. Also don’t be afraid to try new things, college is a place to explore new things and ideas.” -Michael, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo

“If someone you went to high school with goes to the same college as you, don’t feel any obligation to be friends with them/socialize with them” -Malissa, San Francisco State University

“Make friends with people besides your roommate, and don’t be afraid to try things on your own! Don’t always try to stick to one group of people.” -Brittany, California State University, Fullerton

“Get involved. Joining a club, greek life or an organization will be the best way to make friends and meet new people. You have the opportunity to bond with others over things you’re passionate about and it brings a new level of depth to friendships. Talk to the person you sit next to in physics lab, they might end up being your best friend.” -Ashley, Auburn University

“Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and get involved as soon as possible, [and] if you need help in a class, ask for it sooner rather than later!” -Lily, Sonoma State University

“Go to office hours whenever you get the chance. That’s how I passed my difficult classes.” -Brad, San Diego State University

“Who you are as a human being is not contingent upon your academic performance. You may get an A, but you are not an A. You may get a C-, but YOU are not a C-…Bottom line—you are not a failing grade, or a lost match, or a bad breakup. You have intrinsic value. Period.” -Samantha, Princeton University

“If I didn’t exercise, eat good, healthy food every day, and get a good amount of sleep, I would be really tried and wouldn’t be able to focus. Treat your body well if you want to do well in your studies.” -Trevor, University of Portland

“Don’t procrastinate, that is the worst thing you can do in college. Trust me, you would much rather be sleeping than pulling an all nighter for a paper due the next morning. Also, it’s the best feeling in the world to leave the library before all your friends do during finals because you’ve already studied.” -Nikki, Auburn University

“Realize that the amount of work that you’re going to be suffering through these next four years will be worth it once you’re doing the thing you love.” -Megan, University of California, San Diego

“1. Go make time to go to the gym or stay active because the freshman 15 is a real thing. 2. Get involved in clubs, student body or intramural sports. They’re [a] great way to [get] involved and you meet a lot of friends. 3. Make sure to manage your time wisely, [as] college is completely different than high school. You have to make sure you balance your academic [life] with your social life because you’ll have a lot of freedom and a lot harder work. ” -Brittany, Liberty University

“Don’t think you have to know what you want to do right away. It’s alright to change your mind or veer away from your planned schedule to explore other interests. Everything is fixable, and taking that photography class you’ve always wanted to take won’t kill any plans to graduate in four years.” -Kash, New York University

“Don’t let the fear of appearing stupid get in the way of having fun.” -Clinton, Brigham Young University

(Special thanks to the 15+ college students who contributed to the making of this article.)