By Emily Russell
For Elise Stebick, a senior at American University, being a Republican on a politically active campus centered in an overwhelmingly liberal city is not always easy.
Stebick believes she has been subject to hostility breeding in Washington, D.C., which is home to over 12 times as many Democrats than Republicans, according to the D.C. Board of Elections’ 2018 Voter Registration report.
More specifically, Stebick believes the intensifying issue of hostility against conservatives is “very specific to AU.”
“People ignore my feelings and thoughts because I say that I’m a Republican,” said Stebick of her AU peers.
Stifling of political sentiments is not an unheard of trend on college campuses in the Trumpian era. According to a 2018 Gallup poll, over 60% of students nationwide believe their college’s campus climate is restrictive of student speech and expression.
Stebick, an intern for the National Republican Congressional Committee, accredits American University’s campus climate of diminishing speech to a lack of open-mindedness between student members of both major parties.
“Nobody wants to listen to anyone,” said Stebick. “It’s like, ‘If you don’t agree with me, you’re stupid.’”
Stebick also claims being a female Republican adds weight to the hostility she feels from her more liberal peers.
“As a woman Republican, people just say ‘You just swallow information and listen to what everyone else says. You just listen to Fox News and you don’t actually listen to it and think your own way,’” said Stebick.
Mending bitter relationships between Democrats and Republicans on campus begins with acknowledging each other’s ideological merits, Stebick believes. Promoting amicable bipartisan cooperation is something she will be casting her vote in favor of on her midterm election ballot.
“There’s no bipartisanship,” said Stebick of bitter party relations. “Bipartisanship isn’t a word, it doesn’t exist anymore.”
Focusing less attention solely on candidates’ partisan agendas, and instead honing attention on their character and willingness to cooperate with others, is an important voting consideration for Stebick.
She thinks politicians from both parties must be “willing to have a conversation with anyone” in a respectful manner in order for substantial progress to be made this midterm election.