16 thoughts on “Carleton Conservatives”

  1. Good job, Aron!!

    A couple of years ago, I taught a class at Carleton called “America and the Classics,” about the influence of the Greek and Roman classics on the United States from the Founding through the Progressive Era. A conservative student in the class told me that I was the only professor he had had in four years at Carleton who had ever presented the conservative point of view in class. That, of course, was just one student’s experience.

  2. Aron, Matt and everyone…an excellent video. I do think it is very sad that many of our campuses are becoming so similar of thought. Some decades ago there was always vigorous debate and discussion on campuses concerning conservative and liberal viewpoints. That seems to be long gone. When students cannot feel comfortable writing a paper on why affirmative action doesn’t work, there is something seriously wrong with our educational system.

    My advice to the CCU folks is to hang in there, get the best education you can, then head out into the world to put forth good, conservative values and actions wherever you can.

  3. Do you think the lack of conservatives at all college campuses is a symptom of what the conservative movement has become?

  4. Anthony: That’s what Paul Krugman thinks, as he explains in this editorial from 2005. Krugman says: “[T]oday’s Republican Party – increasingly dominated by people who believe truth should be determined by revelation, not research – doesn’t respect science, or scholarship in general. It shouldn’t be surprising that scholars have returned the favor by losing respect for the Republican Party.” The problem is not conservatism (whatever that is) so much as the alliance between the GOP and the religious right.

    I do think it’s probably true that, as Krugman argues, there is a large element of “self-selection” involved. Conservatives are probably more likely to go into business than academia, and Krugman points out that Republicans outnumber Democrats in the military 4-to-1.

  5. I think there is a significant problem if the institution, as an institution, takes measures that effectively silence or even quiet differing viewpoints. I don’t think that was expressed in this video. It seemed to me that the students interviewed had problems with peers being overbearing and close-minded in their interactions, but not really with the institution.

    Students should learn to be accepting and understanding, certainly, that should be a by-product of maturation and higher education. The fact that they sometimes are not accepting is a sociological issue – rooted in the dynamics of friendship, peer interaction and personal growth. Some liberals at Carleton listen and comment respectively, hold to their views, but accept and think about conservative arguments.

    I actually think conservatives probably leave Carleton better prepared for reality, because they get exposed to much more opposition and confrontation. They learn the opposing arguments very well. My conversations with liberals and conservatives at Carleton over the past eleven years, and during my four years as a student there, have shown me that it can be tough for conservatives, but I never thought it was an institutional directive, just the dynamics of groupthink and majority politics.

    I would expect that liberal students have similar problems at schools that typically attract conservative students.

  6. I have heard that conservatism is down among young persons generally.

    However, I think this really says more about Carleton than it does about kids in general. Conservative kids tend to look for different things than Carleton has to offer, and tend to go to other schools – like the Catholic university that I attended, for example.

    Doesn’t make Carleton wrong; doesn’t make Marquette wrong. Just means that, for better and/or for worse, people are self-selecting themselves into segregated camps.

    It is, you could say, the end result of a couple decades of the culture wars.

  7. Very true, Patrick. Self-selection based on the verbal fireworks of the culture wars should be considered. I actually applaud conservatives who chose schools like Carleton or Hampshire or Macalester. I doubt I would’ve had the guts to go to a more-typically conservative school even if I preferred the campus and the curriculum .

  8. I remember my son’s experiences in classes at the high school. We had taught him how to discuss opposing viewpoints without being offensive. It was quite interesting some of the experiences he had in some classes. The teachers loved him because he could get a good discussion going with just a couple questions, then set back and watch all the melee unfold. Many people who disagreed with his positions would come back with this statement, ” You can’t believe that way.” I thought it was a very interesting and intolerant response. Most teachers would challenge those statements as being intolerant in themselves, which they were. The problem most fellow studenst had with my son is his photographic memory. He could rattle off the statistics to back up his position correctly and that just drove them nuts. I guess he inherited a little of his father’s love for a good rhubarb. There are, in most arguments, certain tenets that must be believed. That being the case, the same observations can be uinterpreted completely differently with different evaluations of outcomes. What is foundational in the tenets is what separates differing schools of thought, and some of these theories will probably not be proved out in my lifetime. I choose to follow directions that are time proven, and I am suspect of inovative thought just for the sake of it being inovative.

    I can’t pull up the sound track on this computer, so I am interested in getting the whole presentation later when I get home.

  9. I think the quote attributed to Churchill, von Bismarck and Diserali says it all about this subject – Any man by the age of 25 who is not a liberal has no heart. But any man by the age of 35 who is not a conservative has no brain. Unless, of course, that man (or woman) never leaves the confines of the academia world.

  10. Rob: Krugman’s criticism of the conservative movement could be turned against the “liberal” movement. The liberal party is increasingly dominated by those who believe that truth should be determined by research, not relevation, who don’t respect theology, or accept’s reason’s limitations to understand the human condition.

    As a result, in the “soft” sciences where empirical verifiability is not possible, the sciences have become dominated by an undifferentiated plurality of opinions, especially of the professors, without reference to those teachings spanning centuries that can only be learned by relevations garnered by experience.

    Worse yet, questionable “liberal” policies, such as affirmative action, do not receive the scrutiny of reason that liberals profess to be their guiding principle. Instead, political correctness becomes the guiding principle, and anyone (especially someone labeled as a conservative) who dares to question the principle runs into a flurry of “offended” liberals.

    Global warming is an example where it is almost impossible to have an intelligent conversation with a liberal. While there is a consensus that it is occuring, the human contribution, and the solution are very much inconclusive. When then Sen. Neuville posted a thread to discuss the issue, the comments were generally critical of even having the discussion. I don’t think many people know that Sen. Neuville was a scientist (chemical engineering) before becoming a lawyer, and that all he was interested in was taking a scientific approach to a growing problem.

  11. David L’s comments are spot on. When I was in the Mn House we dealt with the smoking ban issue. I tried very hard to get performance standards implemented, instead of an outright ban in the work place. In my mind, if you are going to regulate something you need solid science with you, and you need to determine thresholds, etc. One can make the argument that we probably have that information on tobacco smoke. I could not see why a work place couldn’t allow smoking as long as the indoor air quality standards are met. This in theory would allow a restaurant or bar to allow smoking in a section that had specific mechanical ventilation in it so that the air quality meets certain standards. It may cost a boat load of money to operate the system in a Minnesota winter, but that is a business option.
    Being in the construction business I am used to dealing with a certain number of products that have to meet measured quantities…things such as silica sand, Portland cement dust, organic compounds, etc. They are not banned in the work place, but we have to make sure our employees are not exposed to harmful levels. In my mind smoke from tobacco is the same issue. There are some things from time to time where the threshold is zero, such as asbestos—we should reserve outright bans for such products.
    But as David L pointed out, there are a lot of people that simply want to go with ‘gut level’ thoughts and not look at science. That can be a very dangerous path to march down.

  12. Rob: I don’t think modern liberalism sees Pascal’s Wager as a rational, let alone perhaps the most rational, response to some matters of uncertainty.

  13. Hi everyone – I’m Aron one of the students who produced this video. I just found it here on locally grown Northfield. Another thing that was not explained in the video was the reason that we felt compelled to make it. I feel comfortable telling all of you that I’m personally quite liberal and do not relate at all with the politically conservative viewpoint. However, we felt like it was important to create this video not to criticize Carleton in any way or even the abundance of liberal students, but just because it is my moral and ethical value to always hear the other side of any argument. I think it is important to have an atmosphere where the minority voice feels comfortable speaking out, even if I fervently disagree with what they are voicing. We want Carleton to be a place that truly hears and embraces all minorities. To me, that leads to a truly dynamic education.

  14. Aron: Thanks for the video. From the voices of the conservatives interviewed, it sounded as if conservative Carleton students does not feel comfortable speaking out. Do you agree or disagree?

Leave a Reply