For this Republican student, being conservative doesn’t mean always agreeing with Trump

By Haley Samsel

When Katy Selinger went to vote shortly after the 2016 presidential election, she wasn’t sure she wanted to register as a Republican. She ended up registering as an independent in her home state of New Jersey.

“I registered to vote a month after Trump was elected and I was like, ‘I don’t know how I feel about this yet,’” Selinger said.

But now the American University sophomore identifies strongly as a Republican, though she is sometimes skeptical of the president’s decisions. At a largely liberal campus like AU, Selinger said she feels stifled in the classroom, calling it one of the most important issues facing her as a student.

“Giving conservative students either a voice or just a chance to be heard in the classroom, especially, is difficult,” Selinger said. “Sometimes it feels like no one else in the room agrees with you, like you’re the only one with that perspective, and so that makes it hard to speak up.”

Selinger feels more comfortable sharing her views in Republican clubs, serving as the vice president of AU’s chapter of the Network for enlightened Women, a conservative women’s group. She wishes there were more chances for positive political discourse at AU, but intense political polarization has kept students from exchanging ideas.

“People automatically put up a wall,” Selinger said. “I think in order to have a conversation with people … and compromise on anything, you have to let that go.”

Ahead of the midterm elections in November, Selinger said her vote will not be determined by a candidate’s views on Trump, negative or positive.

She calls herself a “good-Trump, bad-Trump person” — if the president does something well, Selinger said, she can appreciate it. If he does something against her values, she’s willing to say it was “really bad.”

“I don’t think that being a Republican necessarily means you have to agree with everything the president does when they’re in your party,” Selinger said. “If a Republican speaks up against Trump, [saying] ‘you need stronger Republican values, not just Trump values,’ I would consider voting for them.”