Conservative students enrolled at the University of Delaware, concerned that liberal views are more accepted on campus, met Wednesday night at Gore Hall to voice their concerns about professors pushing liberal agendas inside classrooms.
The forum, which addressed such issues as favorable grading curves for students with like-minded political ideologies, brought together an assortment of conservative thinkers.
Freshman Alex Yandziak described himself as a "recovering liberal"; a political pivot he decided to make after taking a class where he and other white students were reportedly required to admit they were privileged.
"I came into college with a pretty leftward way of thinking," Yandziak admitted, "and then the change occurred after I saw some things that were questionable. My parents signed me up for an obligatory english class, and I walked in and the first thing I saw was 'welcome to power, privilege and oppression' and I was like is this English 101? And [the professor] was like, 'yes and you have to stay here because it's an obligatory class.'
"The entire class was basically like propaganda, and the first thing we did was all the white kids had to admit they were privileged. It was so weird and you could tell she had an obvious political bias, but you weren't even allowed to use the word 'right-wing' in class because that implied they were right, [or] correct. You had to say conservative, and it was very frustrating because I felt like I couldn't even talk in class and express my own views because it was very claustrophobic and there was so much ideology being thrown through the air. She was the one who really changed my political opinion, and she really started me down the path that maybe this isn't the right kind of ideology if you're forcing people to believe it for their grade."
Mike Canizaro, a Junior majoring in History, said there were many times where he wanted to voice his opinion in a core major class last semester, but refrained from doing so over a fear that he would be attacked by liberal classmates and a professor who dominated the vocal majority.
"With history classes there's a lot of debate of certain historical events, and the context of them," Canizaro revealed. "Last semester, [during] History 205, which is the study of the United States from 1776 to the Civil War in 1865, a lot of that syllabus and agenda was really pushing on how the white man is at fault, and really in depth studies on women. Obviously women have made contributions to this country, but a lot of this material was women, women, women, and black people, black people, black people, which is fine and great and I know everyone contributes.
"A lot of this stuff didn't emphasize George Washington's writing, what did Thomas Jefferson do, and what did Benjamin Franklin do? These guys are really important and I felt like every time this teacher tried to discuss something, everyone contributed and wanted to push a liberal agenda and I didn't raise my hand because I have nothing to say about that."
Jonathan Mattner, a Junior majoring in Political Science, explained how he's witnessed professors publicly describe themselves as "hardcore liberals." Some have even went as far as to trash the president right in front of students.
"Numerous professors in the past have talked slander about Republican policies and they just haven't remained impartial," Mattner shared. "I've always spoken up and a lot of the time the whole classroom is predominantly liberal and the professors kind of gang up, and I just don't think that's right. I think that it's important for professors to remain impartial and to push their politics aside."
Sophomore Kyle Hutra added his participation in much of his classes is limited because it often times ends up resulting in a heated debate with a crowd of classmates who share liberal views.
"There's a little bit of a thought before everything I say because I feel like I will be attacked for some of the things that I agree with," Hutra said. "You definitely feel a little bit of tension when a slightly political question is asked and you see everybody in the class, people who sit on the left, who answer questions and I feel like they feel more comfortable about speaking out about it whereas I will listen first."
Many others in attendance shared similar sentiments but declined to do interviews.
One student, who chose to remain anonymous, later explained how the mistrust of the media or "fake news," even at a local level, was the reason for his initial response when extended an opportunity for an interview.
In 2016, a Harvard study discovered that 21% of conservative students nationwide, compared to 8% of Democrats, said they do not feel comfortable sharing their political opinions on college campuses.