Treatment of Conservatives at Hamilton College

There seems to be a sentiment among left-leaning students and faculty on our campus that harassing conservative students is not only acceptable, but actually should be done. These same students and faculty, however, refuse to acknowledge that political harassment and discrimination are taking place at Hamilton. Many of my peers who attended Kim Strassel’s lecture on January 25 were made uncomfortable by my introduction, especially my – as one student put it – “baldface lie” that conservatives are harassed for their views at Hamilton.

I most certainly was not lying. I was referring to real people and real events that occurred on our campus. As a public face of conservatism at Hamilton, perhaps it’s time I share my own thoughts and experiences with the community.

At the beginning of the fall semester, the harassment went as far as trying to suppress my – and the other Enquiry writers’ – free speech by ripping up or stealing copies of our publication. It doesn’t bother me at all if people don’t agree with what we write , but destroying our work and property in an attempt to suppress our free speech is disgusting. Though we often don’t agree with the ideas and sentiments expressed in other campus publications, we would never stoop to vandalize them.

Shortly thereafter, I began receiving anonymous notes in my campus mailbox demanding that I stop publishing “offensive and inappropriate” pieces. Unfortunately, this is nothing new. Nearly all of our previous editors have received similar – and in some cases far more threatening – messages just because they are conservative or libertarian and have published various pieces reflecting such views. Enquiry accepts all article submissions as long as they are well written and well constructed. If you don’t like what we publish, send us something yourself.

I thought this was the worst my experiences were going to get. I was able to shake off the messages and our staff, though deeply bothered by such reprehensible behavior, continued to publish. But nothing could prepare us for what would occur leading up to, and following, Election Day.

In the days before November 8, my fellow Republicans and I were met with a barrage of animosity. Though many of us made it perfectly clear that Donald Trump was not our candidate of choice, professors, classmates, teammates, and even friends still singled us out for our continued support of the Republican Party.

In what world is it OK to harass someone for doing his or her civic duty? For voting for the candidate that we believed would best represent our views, our interests, and our country? Here’s a news flash for some of you: some of us even voted for Hillary Clinton. But you wouldn’t have a clue about that, because you just assumed we’re all racist, homophobic Trump supporters.

Even if you think that destroying a publication in the name of sensitivity, sending threatening messages, or putting people down on account of their political leanings doesn’t count as harassment, you cannot deny that the physical and verbal intimidation I experienced on Election Day does.

On November 8, a number of instances occurred in which I was called a racist, bigot, and homophobe (which, for the record, could not be further from the truth). Once on that day, a male Hamilton student followed me – shouting insults – all the way along Martin’s Way. Isn’t this exactly the same behavior that the left is trying to protect marginalized communities from? And by the way, conservatives are definitely a marginalized group on this campus.

Then, just when I thought things had finally calmed down, Inauguration Day rolled around and Republicans were once again the objects of torment by “liberals.” I even received a particularly unprofessional, if not malicious, email from one Professor Katharine Kuharic in the Art Department – whom I have never met– in response to a message I sent notifying the Hamilton community about a public invitation to watch the inauguration at the AHI. Though my message contained no political opinion or indication that the event was meant to celebrate Trump’s inauguration, Professor Kuharic deemed it appropriate to forward me an all-faculty email concerning the Women’s March, appending the message: “you may want to discuss as the US inaugurates an illegitimate Russian puppet intent on destroying the constitutional rights to free speech, press, religious practice and birthright citizenship.”

Worst of all, our college’s administration did next to nothing when asked to address the political harassment on campus. I did not hear a single word from anyone other than the campus investigator who took my deposition on Election Day, and though I spoke with President Wippman after the Inauguration Day incident, it’s clear to me that the administration would rather downplay any incidents than address them head-on. Imagine that, instead of me, all these things had happened to a student of color, or a student who identifies as being LGBTQ+. There would be a bias incident report and group counseling available to the entire student body.

I am certainly not the only conservative student who has experienced harassment on this campus. Others have been shamed out of classes, or ridiculed by professors and students alike. Some seem to have had their grades lowered because of their political leanings. How can the administration continue to deny that conservatives are made to feel ridiculed and excluded on campus? Or, at the very least, how can they deny that conservatives are treated worse than their peers?