How to Survive College as a Conservative


Dear Class of 2020,

Welcome to College. You attended your first week of class, had a great time during the weekend, and are just learning  what Wake Forest has to offer. Your life in college will be very different than in high school. It’s here that you will be able to make your own choices and be your own person. That’s part of what makes college such a great experience. During your four years here, you will also have to figure out what you believe in and stand up for. To students that have values that go against the mainstream “university liberal” stance, this part of college can be challenging. After two years of standing up for my beliefs at Wake Forest, here is my advice to  you all:


  • Don’t Be Afraid. Having strongly held beliefs is not a bad thing. Having values that are different from your professors and peers is also not a bad thing. Your values won’t stop you from having positive relationships with professors and making life-long friends in college. People won’t always agree with you, but there is no reason to be afraid of being a conservative. Your views will be tested and it is often beneficial to take into account different viewpoints and have empathy for other people’s backgrounds. This is a time for growth in your ideas and values as a conservative.


  • Speak Up. When you are in a class and object to something or want to contribute to the discussion, speak your mind. Personally, I’ve experienced moments when I question the value of my opinion in class discussions where I disagree with the Professor and classmates. The bottom line is to not be afraid to speak up and challenge the status quo. Although it may seem intimidating at first, your viewpoint matters and will likely facilitate learning in the class opposed to dividing it.


  • Plug In  There are plenty of ways to get involved on campus. For example, you may decide to join the College Republicans and/or the Wake Forest Review. These groups are a great way to connect with others that value Conservative principles. Also, you’ll make new friends early in the semester which is always a plus!


  • Fight Back A small group of people will ignore and completely discredit your opinions. These people are bullies, and deserve to be fought against. Challenging current beliefs in dialog provides a chance for growth and understanding but ignorance on either side is not productive. You should stand up to anyone who tries to stop this dialog and your ability to express yourself. If any serious conflicts arise based on your beliefs, Univeristy Bias reporting system is available as a way to investigate mistreatment. Don’t hesitate to fight for your side of the story.




  1. The University Bias Reporting System was set in place to respond to incidents of discrimination, intolerance, or hate based on race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, or ethnic origin. It is not a safety net for saying whatever you want. It is not a card to be pulled when you’re feeling targeted because you’re a Republican. That is not only a misuse of resources, but an insult to those suffering from actual bias on campus that impedes their ability to partake as a member in the Wake Forest community. There are real and severe hate crimes that take place on this campus; being told your conservative opinion is wrong is not one of them.

    Furthermore, you applaud diverse ideas and strong convictions early in your article, but then go on to describe a “small group of people [who] will ignore and completely discredit your opinions,” even calling these people “bullies” and – in a sudden and aggressively worrisome turn – claim they “deserve to be fought against.” Is this not contradictory not only to your own words but also to the inclusive mission statement of Wake Forest University? Your violent rhetoric speckled with references to fighting back discredits your calls for understanding and facilitating learning as you brand anyone who opposes you a “bully” and gives the Class of 2020 an obscenely skewed vision of what Wake Forest is like, for both liberals and conservatives.

    • I felt that I should respond to clarify some points I made and concerns you have:

      I have had specific discussions with Dean Goldstein where he indicated that the Bias Reporting System can be used for all kinds of bias, including mistreatment due to political beliefs. If you have an issue with that, you should take that up with Dean Goldstein and the Dean of Students Office.

      I would say that bias based on political beliefs is, “an actual bias on campus that impedes their ability to partake as a member of the Wake Forest community” (and the academic community in general). If you want to understand where I am coming from, I suggest you read a great New York Times piece on this issue: . It talks more about professors than students, but the sentiment is the same.

      Lastly, I believe strongly in First Amendment rights. I believe that people who stop you from exercising these rights through fear, threats of force, violence, and rhetorical intimidation are bullies. There aren’t a lot of “bullies” around Wake Forest, but I could show you some screen shots of what they have to say about me and conservatives in general. When I say they need to be fought against, I’m not advocating for violence. I am advocating for people to stand up for themselves and expose the “bullies” for what they really are. I am advocating for people to end fear and intimidation of conservatives at this university so everyone can exercise their rights. That’s not contradictory to an inclusive mission statement, that’s fighting for it.

    • >A small group of people will ignore and completely discredit your opinions. These people are bullies, and deserve to be fought against

      Like this guy.

    • “as you brand anyone who opposes you a “bully” and gives the Class of 2020 an obscenely skewed vision of what Wake Forest is like, for both liberals and conservatives.”
      I know not your affiliation with Wake Forest, but your comments seem sophomoric, at best.
      Please read the article slowly and you will see that your accusations lack not only accuracy, but merit as well…

  2. Thank you, Ryan.
    Glad to see that this lovely university has some strong conservatives like you. Makes me feel better as a prospective WFU parent!
    Go Demon Deacons!

  3. The article severely lacks an analysis of the status quo that warrants the need to “survive college as a conservative.” Is WFU really all that conservative of a school? What’s so liberal about WFU – their rejection of HB2 that lets people express themselves equally, their committment to racial justice? What part of those principles do you disagree with?

  4. Thank you, Ryan, this was sorely needed. And yes, Shane Lutz, you and your “bias response team” are the bullies that need to be stopped. Preferably by police hauling you away for violating our civil rights.

  5. Char–

    The article was advocating free expression–only not for just one side.
    Race wasn’t even mentioned. Anywhere. Why do Liberals always default to that in lieu of an actual argument?