An open letter to conservatives on campus

Opposition from equity groups on campus doesn’t equal marginalization

Photo: 
 
To conservatives who identify as targets on this campus,
 
It’s important to be conscious of where you are situated in relation to power if you want to effectively fight for a more just society.
 
I apply this to myself as well and to everyone with privileges similar to ours. Being aware of the degree to which we benefit from whiteness, our economic background, physical and mental abilities, and the institutions we have access to is imperative if we want our political arguments to be effective and more meaningful. 
 
It’s well-known the majority of university campuses in Canada are host to left-leaning ideals, be that from students or faculty. Although conservative students might call this implicitly unfair, there’s a good underlying 
reason for it. 
 
Since our university’s culture of inclusion works to support students who experience oppression, it will not include your end of the political spectrum. It won’t include your politics because your politics aren’t oppressed.
 
Nevertheless, it’s necessary for your voices to exist on campus. It’s not a bad thing to engage thoughtfully with students from varying political standpoints. 
 
But in doing that, it should be evident there are many intersecting powers—such as race or class—relevant to your social position. Consider this when you speak about political exclusion and the hindering of your free speech. 
 
There’s significant attention paid to leftist social movements that are actively fighting in solidarity against oppression at Queen’s, and you might feel issues you’re advocating for receive a lack of attention because of that.
 
Conservatism is the status quo of our culture. It’s defined as the conservation of traditional values and current institutions because their benefits are perceived to outweigh any detriments. 
 
But here’s the twist: our culture’s traditional values and current institutions only benefit certain people. 
 
To maintain this conservative status quo is to continue to promote systems of domination you and I directly and indirectly benefit from—such as white power, colonialism, imperialism, capitalism, ableism, and patriarchy. 
 
Alongside being conscious of privilege, some people have decided to actively stand in solidarity with oppressed groups on campus. This shouldn’t threaten you. You should feel compelled to support these anti-oppression
groups as well.
 
In the actual practice of interacting with oppressed students, it is a mistake to treat whatever feelings of inferiority you have in response to the attention leftist equity groups receive as valid. This isn’t your place, nor is it mine.
 
Feelings of inferiority develop when you haven’t questioned the power you were born into and feel excluded by oppressed groups fighting against these systems of domination. Instead, you feel inclined to fight back and 
keep that group in its place—you think something is being taken from you.
 
In reality, nothing is being taken away—but then again, maybe it should be. You and I have immense power we did nothing for. 
 
We should be putting our feelings of authority to rest. We should be questioning the implicit feeling that we have a right to all spaces and ownership of everything which presents itself to us due to predisposed factors. 
 
There’s no historical oppression of conservatism and no way to rationalize feeling marginalized as a conservative. 
 
When engaging in ally-ship, it’s important to understand that oppression isn’t just against one individual—it’s against a collective. 
 
Yet, I haven’t once heard someone who identifies as a targeted conservative vocalize the importance of community and solidarity. Instead, there’s only talk of their select experiences and supposed feelings of inferiority. 
 
Disregarding the importance of community and solidarity inherently weakens 
your platform. For example, arguments for the protection of free speech are weakened when you only advocate for your own freedom of speech or for those who hold similar views to your own.
 
This is something I’ve learned first-hand: a movement is stronger when it includes the perspectives of as many people as possible. 
 
Although I could talk myself blue about how I’ve been told I’m an obtrusive queer, a man-hating feminist, a dyke and he/she, I’d be distracting myself from what really matters: ally-ship between myself and other communities.
 
When Conservative is presented as being part of a targeted group, it’s denying the needs and perspectives of others within our society. Misconstruing conservatism this way is the conscious choice to put the needs of privileged individuals ahead of everyone else. 
 
For example, if you voted for Doug Ford and continue to consider yourself an ally to the LGBTQ+ community, I feel no relationship to your support. 
 
You cannot claim this form of ally-ship after voting for the conservative party this past June. Ally-ship is not a resume bullet-point—it’s built off of ideological commitment. 
 
For many LGBTQ+ students such as myself, we have access to communities at Queen’s we often cannot find in the real world. Just because a university campus tries to promote equity doesn’t mean the rest of the culture is safe 
for us. Nor does it take away your voice. 
 
It doesn’t make sense for you to feel threatened by anti-oppression movements on campus. Pull your socks up and realize we stand on some of the highest platforms for speech 
and liberty. 
 
You feel threatened at the ide of losing power to the hands of those you’ve taken it from. Let it go. 
 
Use your privilege for something worthwhile.
 
Daisy is a third-year gender studies major and politics minor. They identify as gender queer and use she/they pronouns.

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