This excerpt is republished with permission.
It’s been about a year since I joined the Claremont Independent staff. I wrote my first article about an America-themed party that students protested heavily a few months before. I had been upset about the protest for quite some time, but I was too nervous to say anything about it for fear of social ostracism. As a result, I kept my opinions to myself for a long while. However, when George Will was disinvited from speaking at Scripps last year, I hit my tipping point. I was fed up with the way non-progressive ideas were shunned at the 5Cs, and decided to finally join the CI.
When I wrote that first article, I was surprised by the response. People had favorable things to say about it on social media, and many people approached me in person to tell me that they appreciated my article and that they had been thinking the same thing. For the most part, this trend has continued throughout my tenure with the CI. When I write an article—whether about Yacht Club, Mudd Goes Madd, Pomona’s Forbes ranking, or anything else—many students voice their support and agreement. This type of reaction was puzzling to me: at a school where 92% of students describe themselves as Democrats, how was it possible that so many of my peers agreed with my relatively right-leaning positions that “the campus left” seemed to so adamantly oppose?
The answer is simple. Political ideologies can be thought of as a bell curve spectrum: some people are more liberal or more conservative than others, but most people fall closest to the middle. On college campuses (perhaps especially so at the 5Cs), there is a bit of extra weight toward the progressive tail, as a sizeable proportion of the student body has a political ideology that is many standard deviations to the left of the mean. By contrast, there are virtually no fringe right-wingers. Aside from perhaps the College Republicans, the CI staff is the most conservative group at any of the schools. And yet, the vast majority of our staff supports gay marriage, abortion, and the legalization of marijuana, in stark contrast to the views that most on the far right hold. As a result, many Democrats on campus find that their moderately liberal views are more similar to the moderately conservative views of our staff than they are to the outrageously liberal views of progressive Social Justice Warriors on the far left, even if we may check different boxes on the 2016 ballot.
Unfortunately, fringe leftists have tremendous power in shaping the climate for discussions on campus. Part of this is because 5C administrations generally cave in to anything these students claim is “offensive,” and that list extends almost infinitely. As we saw recently with the “Mudd Goes Madd” party, for example, the term “Goes Madd” was deemed so offensive to students with mental health disabilities that the party could not be funded. Students are afraid to voice opposition to fringe leftists at the 5Cs because they will inevitably be labeled “racist,” “sexist,” “bigoted,” or some combination thereof, since any disagreement with progressive ideas is immediately dismissed as intolerant.