With an understanding of the incredible irony that such a phrase will invoke the instant you discover who is uttering it, I must say, “welcome to Wesleyan.” You are fortunate indeed to have cleared the admissions hurdle, and I am sure that all of you will find something with which to occupy yourselves productively on this campus. For many of you, that something will probably include advocating for some group or another that has been “marginalized” or “disenfranchised” or subjected to some other unpleasant turn of phrase that invokes images of wailing and gnashing of teeth. I am sure that for those of you that do this, you will find what I am about to say particularly distasteful.
You see, I am a representative of one of the few groups on this campus that, until recently, WAS actually marginalized, disenfranchised, dismissed, downtrodden, and otherwise deprived of our dissenting voices. This was done not because of the color of our skin, or the income bracket we belonged to, or even because we happened to prefer one position in the Kama Sutra over another, but because of something much less obvious and much more relevant to political activity. I refer to the sole outpost of conservative dissent on this campus, the Wesleyan College Republicans.
For some of you, the idea that people on such a left-leaning campus will try to suppress dissent may induce massive confusion. You have probably been told that to be liberal is to be “open-minded,” “tolerant,” or even “pro-discussion.” You have also been told that Wesleyan is one of the most liberal schools in the nation.
Now, while liberals in the classical sense were open-minded, tolerant, and pro-discussion, every time someone suggests that Wesleyan is liberal in this classical sense, one of the authors of the contemporary dictionary probably suffers a massive heart attack from the contradiction in terms. The correct term for Wesleyan’s prevailing weltanschauung, unfortunately, would be something more like “radical,” “utopian” or, god forbid, “left-wing.” None of these terms is synonymous in anything but a colloquial sense with the word “liberal.” The students frequently obfuscate that fact by pretending that everybody on this campus believes in the same leftist ideas of their own free will. Those who disagree, naturally, are forced to sing kumbaya at the point of a metaphysical gun so as not to disrupt the warm fuzzies. The Wesleyan College Republicans exist to put the lie to this Stalinist farce, and, as such, we welcome into our ranks any individual who happens to believe that political debate ought to have two sides.
And, unlike the years before, when we could only beg for aid in this struggle, this year we start with the added benefit of having proven that we have claws. Last year, the pacifist front group Students for Ending the War in Iraq (SEWI) attempted to force the Board of Trustees to make a decision in favor of divestment from weapons contractors and write their vision of morality into our very investment portfolio. SEWI’s argument was essentially that a universal consensus existed among the students that weapons were evil, and that the University’s trustees had better divest if they knew what was good for them.
Unfortunately, like the prison-industrial complex, the alienation of labor, the explosives planted at the base of the twin Towers, Santa Claus, and other concepts universally beloved by radical leftists, this notion of “universal consensus” had one giant flaw: it didn’t exist. Moreover, the College Republicans wrote letters to the Board of Trustees, as well as Wespeaks in this august paper, protesting as much and defending the morality and practicality of our current investment strategy. This small chink in SEWI’s armor soon became magnified tenfold as The Argus was filled with Wespeaks from moderates and liberals denouncing the idea of divestment. A wellspring of frustration at the moral arrogance of SEWI and its ilk had been tapped and, when the decision came back from the Board, it was, unanimously, that we would stay invested in weapons contractors. We in the College Republicans might not have caused this directly, but we feel pleased to at least have had a hand in it.
The moral of the story is that Wesleyan has a double standard. If you question conservatives, you are a courageous activist. If you question liberals, you are part of the problem and must be exterminated. If this is true, then we in the College Republicans are very proud to be part of the problem, and we hope that many of you will join us.