Democrats on campus react to campus climate

Victoria Bresnahan – General Assignment Reporter

Currently, it seems like the Republican party is the enemy, said Erica MacLean, freshman and biology major.

“Conversations turn into arguments which turn into fights because of our president,” said MacLean, a Democrat. “I feel like in the past if you had an opposing political view it was something you were still able to talk about with them.”

MacLean said her democratic beliefs have been questioned on social media websites such as Facebook.

“I posted a picture from the Women’s March a couple of weeks ago,” said MacLean, “and people commented, ‘You hate our president’ and ‘[The Women’s March] is against the president.’”

In high school, MacLean said a teacher told her she could not wear a pro-LGBT shirt. One of her high school math teachers also made inappropriate comments to her during class, such as targeting her agreement with pro-choice, she said.

“I would stand up against it and then, later in the year, he would make comments targeted at me,” said MacLean. “[He would say], ‘Oh, I don’t want Erica to get too upset.’”

MacLean said she attended Wethersfield High School, which is a public school.

Bailey Sullivan, senior and art history major, said she does not feel Southern’s Democratic students are being targeted in the same way Republican students seem to be.

“The university in general is pretty far in line with democratic views—at least socially,” said Sullivan, a registered Democrat. “We have a social justice month; our president is super involved in promoting social justice on campus.”

Sullivan said there is a rift between Republicans and Democrats, both on campus and in general.

“I have been in classes where people may have differing opinions, where people are more republican or conservative,” said Sullivan. “There is a lot of hostility between the two groups. There is always an argument that breaks out.”

However, Sullivan said it is important for students to have these arguments and listen to what the other side has to say.

“Often, I do not think that anything is going to ever come through, but at least [listening] is important,” said Sullivan. “To understand is not something I think we can do very well.”

When it concerned President Trump, Sullivan said she vehemently disagrees with his actions and he makes her uncomfortable.

“I think he speaks nonsense and his tweets are nonsense,” said Sullivan. “I do not find him to be coherent in any way. He only shapes his words and language to whoever he wants to be making a deal with. Not even on a political point of view, but on a personal one, I have problems with him.”

Sullivan said she there may not be a way to fix the divide between Republicans and Democrats, but there may be a way to bridge the gap.

“I think it is okay that people discuss and debate,” said Sullivan. “But really, I can’t imagine anybody—even a Republican—suddenly understanding where a Democrat, especially on social issues, is coming from.”

Tim Bristol, senior and membership coordinator of Southern’s College Democrats, said he has not come across any democratic students being targeted by professors or students due to their political views.

“I do think having a political stance at school now-a-days is a difficult thing to maintain,” said Bristol, a political science major. “Because of the rhetoric that is going on outside of school is sort of dragged into school sometimes.”

Bristol said the tone some people take towards one’s political affiliation is unhelpful. Bristol follows the College Republicans (ask Victoria about this- does she mean College Democrats as well? – GS) and their presidents on Twitter and he said they tend to poke fun of each other on that platform.

“I mostly think it’s in jest. I don’t think anything is said that is purposefully hurtful,” said Bristol, “Or anything beyond commenting upon the current events on the day.”

Bristol said the two groups are collaborating on possible debates or events they can hold together in the future.

Photo Credit: Victoria Bresnahan

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