I’m a girl from a small town in southern Georgia, I am a freshman at Queens, and I am a Republican.
I was pretty nervous about leaving Georgia and going to the big city of Charlotte. This is my first time being away from home, and I was pretty worried about not being able to find my place.
But thankfully, I came to Queens. I found a community that loves me, supports me, and values me for who I am. I’m making friends and finding out that being away from home isn’t so bad when your university feels like your new home.
But it’s November and things have been kinda weird.
Every time I turn on the TV in my room, I see ads with horrible things about Trump. The worst pictures they can find of him. The worst things he’s ever said. Yeah, there are a few anti-Hillary ads, but it’s nothing like the hate being thrown at Trump.
I don’t really support him, but I do agree with some of his politics. My uncle lives in Texas and was robbed by a Mexican who didn’t have papers. A friend of mine got an abortion when we were juniors and has regretted it ever since. My dad lost his job at the local factory when the company moved the jobs overseas.
I’m not really one to talk about politics, but I do have my own opinions for my own reasons. I got pretty excited when I watched CBS interview the Trump campaign manager just before the election. Finally, some of my views could get some real attention. As they interviewed her, I couldn’t believe how rude they were to her. They cut her off, asked incredibly hard and pointed questions, and presented her in a really bad light.
All the news has been showing this. Every time a conservative-thinking person says what they believe, someone calls them a Trump-supporter, a racist, a sexist. They don’t really have a voice. I see these videos on Facebook of Trump supporters being harassed or judged and I can’t help but think that those things could happen to me if I opened my mouth.
But I go to Queens, the most supportive community I’ve ever been a part of.
Our campus wants us to be informed of the issues before we vote, so we’ve been having a series of lectures and discussions about the major issues. I had time to go to the immigration one and thought it would be a great place to find out more, especially given all the controversy about the wall.
The panel went well. Everyone was very impartial and made a point to say that everyone’s opinions could be heard. They made it a safe space. When it came time to open the floor for questions, a man stood up and asked about the wall. I’m really glad he asked because the panel had never addressed it and I really wanted to know the facts before I cast my vote.
When he asked the question, the whole room kinda giggled and people shifted in their seats. One of the panelists sighed and another had a really subtle smirk.
I was so embarrassed. I wasn’t the one who asked the question, but I could have been. The whole room could have been giggling and sighing and smirking at me.
The panelists kinda answered the question, but it seemed like they had this well-prepared, even rehearsed, rebuttal. It was like they had just been waiting for someone to ask so they could point out why it was a ridiculous policy.
Maybe I’m over-thinking it, but it felt like the panel I had begun to trust for unbiased opinion was suddenly united against me.
I left the panel feeling confused and kinda hurt. I needed someone to talk to, so I walked to my RA’s room. I was just about to knock on her door when I saw she had put up a #ImWithHer sticker on her door. I know she’s supposed to be supportive of any resident who has a problem, but I just didn’t feel right talking to a Hillary supporter about my issues as a conservative voter.
I don’t know if she would have, but I just had a feeling that she would try to sway me into voting for Hillary. I didn’t need a political debate. I just needed someone to talk to.
I figured I’d just let it go and go to bed. It was just one incident of being uncomfortable. It didn’t represent Queens. My university still supported me even if that panel didn’t.
I walked to breakfast the next morning and the first thing I saw were huge posters of horrible things Trump had said. “Grab them by the p***y!” “When a woman is flat-chested, it’s really hard to be a ten.”
It hurt. Yes, it hurt to see those word because I’m a woman, but it also really hurt because that’s my candidate being smeared across the walls of Trexler. Yes, his words were wrong, but Hillary has said some pretty bad things, too, and you don’t see me putting up posters.
In gender communication that afternoon, we did peer reviews of our papers. I read the paper of the girl next to me and saw that she wrote about Donald Trump’s words about women. I didn’t really know what to say about her paper. I had to make comments on her paper, but I was scared. If I made suggestions to change her argument, she’d know I supported Trump. She’s really into politics, so if we got into a political debate, I’d be torn apart.
I decided to keep my opinions to myself, so the only comments I gave her on her paper were about a missing comma and some revisions to APA format.
I thought about my own paper and how maybe I should see a tutor, but I just couldn’t bring myself to let someone else read my defense of Trump. I’ve been to the Center for Student Success before and knew that they were really supportive of students, but I just didn’t want to take the chance that I’d get a Hillary supporter as my tutor. And as I was beginning to learn, there’s a pretty good chance of that happening at Queens.
That got me thinking. I know there are a lot of liberal-thinking people at Queens, and it makes sense being in Charlotte, but how many conservative people were there?
I asked my RA what political groups there were on campus. She told me about College Democrats, but she didn’t say anything about Republicans. I asked her if there was a College Republicans on campus and she said no. She said, “I don’t know any Republicans at Queens, but if you’re interested in it, you can start the club. You just need some people to start it with you.”
I was really excited! I was starting to feel politically active finally. I’ve heard that Queens is all about open discussion, so this was my chance to give voice to a different side.
Putting up posters to get people to start the club with me seemed like a bad idea. They say most Trump supporters are pretty shy like me, so calling people out as Republicans wouldn’t be really smart. So instead, I thought I’d just keep my eyes open and look for signs that someone might have the same views as me.
I didn’t find anyone.
I heard a lot of people talking about how ridiculous Trump’s ideas were and how he’d be the worst president in history.
I saw a glimmer of hope when I passed a dorm in Wireman with a Trump-Pence sign in the window. Finally! Someone who’s proud to support someone other than Hillary. I was trying to figure out how to get into Wireman when I saw the person who lived in the room. He saw the sign and got kinda upset. I heard him yell, “Who put this in here?!” His roommate came out and they started laughing. It was a joke. A prank.
Supporting Trump is a joke. That’s what I learned. At least it’s a joke at Queens.
I really thought Queens had my back. I thought I was free to express my views. And I guess I am. No one ever told me that I couldn’t put up posters, that I couldn’t express my views, that I couldn’t talk to anyone, but whether they realized it or not, Queens showed me that maybe I shouldn’t.
I felt abandoned by my university this semester–my first semester. I hope things will get better. Maybe this was all just because of the ugly election. But there are some things I can’t forget, and the way I felt this November is one of them.
This is not my story. This is not the story of someone I know. But this is someone’s story.
As Democrats and Hillary supporters, many of us don’t see this. We don’t see how making our voice heard affects people who disagree with us. We may not realize it, but we did this to someone on campus.
The election is over. I know people are upset and I’m not asking anyone to just “get over it.” All I’m saying is this election has caused a lot of hurt in this country and Queens is not immune from it. We have all hurt someone.
I don’t want to call anyone out, but each of the events I’ve described have happened on this campus. People did giggle when a man asked about the wall at the panel. Posters were put up in Trexler. Papers were written about Trump’s comments about women. There is no College Republicans group. A Trump-Pence sign in a dorm was put up as a joke between roommates.
These things happened.
I wrote this because I want everyone to think. Put yourself in the shoes of someone else. How do they see you? How do they feel when they hear what you say?
I truly believe Queens is a supportive community and the most supportive community I have ever been a part of, but we are not perfect. We are on the right track, but I wanted to open our eyes to the areas where we have room to grow.
Queens has become a home for me and I just ask that we all work together to make it a home for everyone.