The Pomona Student Union (PSU) held a discussion on Nov. 28 about conservatives at the Claremont Colleges. The discussion, held in Walker Lounge at Pomona College, had about 15 attendees, including three staff members of the Claremont Independent, a conservative-leaning publication on campus.
PSU board member Audrey Jang PO ‘19 began the event by screening “The Conservative Student’s Survival Guide,” a short YouTube video that advises conservatives on strategies for navigating progressive collegiate environments.
The video tells students to avoid what it describes as “pointless ideological battles,” noting that “it’s not your personal responsibility to correct the liberal bias that permeates higher education.”
However, when arguments do take place, the video says it is important to remain calm and that it can be helpful to “seek out allies” in conservative student groups or academic departments (it advises avoiding gender or ethnic studies classes in one’s first year).
After the video, attendees discussed topics such as whether or not conservatives at Pomona can be considered a minority in a similar sense as ethnic minorities (views were mixed), and whether Pomona President David Oxtoby’s response to Donald Trump’s election was appropriate (the general consensus was that it was).
Quinn Clarke PO ‘18, the Associate Editor of the Claremont Independent, emphasized the importance of acknowledging the diversity of perspectives among conservatives on campus.
“One reason a lot of people dismiss the publication as a whole is that they monolithicize the group as one writer, rather than a collection of varied voices, writers, and opinions,” he wrote in a message to TSL, summarizing a point he made at the event.
“It’s the most ideologically diverse space of which I’ve been a part here at Pomona,” he wrote, adding that “conflating people’s opinions based on one aspect of their identity is something we preach against at Pomona.”
Several attendees remarked upon the civil character of the conversation.
“Everybody was engaged and receptive to each other’s thoughts, and we think it was a respectful, productive discussion of a sensitive topic,” Jang said.
Samuel Breslow PO ’18 was a sociology major from New Hampshire. He previously served as TSL’s senior news adviser, news editor, development associate and opinions columnist.