Being Young and Conservative on a Liberal Campus

10.30.18
University of Wisconsin College Republican Alesha Ann Guenther. Photo courtesy of: Alesha Ann Guenther.
10.30.18

In these final days until the moment of truth on November sixth, there’s been a whole lot of attention on student voters and the difference they’ll make in the midterms. Dems are out in full force mobilizing college-goers across the US in hopes that they’ll be a part of the so-called “blue wave.” But where do young conservatives fit in the picture—and what’s life like for right-leaning, politically-minded students on campuses known as progressive?

YR Media reached out to University of Wisconsin College Republican Alesha Ann Guenther, as she moves into the pre-election final stretch. She let us know it’s an incredibly busy time for her—as it is for all students who are trying to make a difference next week—and sent along her responses by email.

The following interview has been lightly edited for clarity and length.

YR Media: How did you decide to become a part of College Republicans at the University of Wisconsin, and what’s the biggest surprise in your role? 

Guenther: I decided to become a member of College Republicans because I care deeply about the issues that our nation and the state of Wisconsin is facing. The biggest surprise I’ve had in my role is how much my views have developed thanks to my involvement. 

YR Media: UW is known as a pretty liberal campus. What’s it like to be a young Republican on a liberal campus?

Guenther: Sometimes it is very difficult to be a conservative on a liberal campus. Many conservative students don’t always choose to share their beliefs openly because the environment can make it very difficult to do so. In many ways, academics can be quite difficult for conservative students in classes taught by liberal professors because they want to maintain their grade without compromising their personal beliefs.

Personally, I have sit in my classes and heard things from my professors said like, “Scott Walker is trying to destroy this institution” or that abortion is a “human-right.” Especially at a public university, time in the classroom should be spent learning the course material that students are paying to learn instead of serving as a platform for a professor’s political beliefs. However, having my beliefs challenged just about every single day challenges me to think more through my own beliefs and quite honestly does liberal students in the classroom a disservice. 

YR Media: This is a busy week for any student involved in politics. How are you working to get young Republicans to the polls?

Guenther: College Republicans are working to get out the vote by volunteering with the Republican Party of Wisconsin by making calls, knocking doors, and engaging with other students to ensure that they vote. We’ve also brought Leah Vukmir and Scott Walker to campus to expose students to their point of view prior to Election Day. 

YR Media: Can you share a recent interaction with a fellow student from “across the aisle” that gave you hope or makes you concerned about where our country is heading (your choice)? 

Guenther: Just last night [October 29th], College Republicans and College Democrats came together for a debate. It’s great that both sides are able to come to the table and engage in a discussion prior to a contentious election. 

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