Yet it appears St. Olaf has the same issue that seems so prevalent on college campuses -- tolerance in form, but not in fact:
“My parents, before I came, said ‘keep your head down and don’t talk about politics,’” Josh Larson ’20 said about his first year at St. Olaf as a conservative student. He’s taken his parents’ advice to heart, and so have many of his conservative peers. Of the 12 students interviewed by the Manitou Messenger, several have been violently threatened because of their political beliefs, and almost all of them feel as though they can’t speak up about politics on campus – in class, online or with their friends.So begins the story, from the Manitou Messenger, the St. Olaf student newspaper. And there's more:
The 2016 general election and following inauguration brought politics to the forefront of student conversations. The St. Olaf College Republicans never endorsed Trump – the club’s window display explaining its position was torn down three times last spring – but club president Emily Schaller ’17 received pushback from both pro-Trump and anti-Trump groups. A Gustavus student on the board for Minnesota College Republicans pressured the group to canvass and phone bank for Trump throughout last summer and into fall. In late September, Schaller filed a no-contact order against the student.If the Hinderaker name seems familiar, it is because she is the daughter of John Hinderaker, the well known Powerline blogger who now helms the Center of the American Experiment. But what is most chilling -- once you are identified, you stay identified. Back to the Messenger article, detailing the experience of a student named Katie Ivance:
Many conservative students felt that the campus became more hostile during election season, and some students received violent threats. On the night of the election, a student in the Pause threatened to beat up Schaller, calling her a “f***ing moron.” Over the next couple of days, she overheard multiple students threaten to hurt the next conservative or Republican they saw. Vice President of St. Olaf College Republicans Kathryn Hinderaker ’19 had a similar experience.
“I think one of the hardest things was, the second day, I went into Buntrock and someone yelled from the bottom, ‘if you voted for Trump, you better be f***ing scared.’ Everyone clapped and applauded,” Hinderaker said. “Obviously, it didn’t feel super safe.”
“People were saying [things] like ‘F-you’ and ‘I wish you were dead,’” she said. Ivance isn’t the only one who has faced harassment online due to political beliefs. On Feb. 18, a student posted an unsolicited photo of a group of students that supposedly included Trump supporters and encouraged fellow students to “remember their faces.”The personal is political, we are told. Apparently so. We will be visiting more campuses as the year goes on. I would not be surprised if the situation is similar elsewhere.
Ivance transferred to the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities after the fall semester, citing harassment as her primary reason for transferring.
“I didn’t want to keep myself in that situation,” she said. “I didn’t know how long it would last.”