Two years ago, I attended an event hosted by the University of Delaware College Republicans. This event featured guest speaker Milo Yiannopoulos. There was a great deal of controversy surrounding the event, but I chose to attend to see what it was all about. After the event, I took what was, what I thought to be at the time, a humorous picture with the speaker. Others didn’t see the humor in the picture and I received backlash from posting the picture.
I now realize that as a journalist I should not have posted the picture online. I broke the journalistic standard of integrity and fully acknowledge the mistake that I made. Part of being a young journalist is making mistakes and being able to learn from them. I recognize the fact that I made a mistake and have learned from it.
Last semester, I heard about the Center for Political Communication’s “Voices of the Divide” audio essay contest. I decided to enter the contest because I wanted to share my experiences in an audio essay format. In my essay, I talked about the fact that I have been bullied and ostracized by my peers on this campus simply because of the fact that I do not share their political views.
The fact of the matter is that on this campus, people are afraid to speak up and identify themselves as holding conservative beliefs. More often than not, the minute someone says they have political beliefs that are not the norm, they get attacked.
During my three years at the University of Delaware, I have lost many friends when they found out that I was a Republican. These people assumed that I was a terrible person and judged me without even getting to know me or attempting to understand why I hold the beliefs that I have. They told my friends that they shouldn’t hang out with me anymore. The same people would also post nasty captions on my social media pictures, send them around to their friends, and spread vicious rumors about me across campus.
In my opinion, people on both sides of the aisle need to stop demonizing each other. Calling someone a racist or a liberal snowflake will not solve any of the many problems facing our country. Neither will bullying someone into silence.
We need to be having more conversations with people who we do not agree with. It is difficult to disparage someone once you have sat down with them and actually talked to them. I am not naive enough to believe that if we are able to sit down and have a civil conversation with someone that we do not agree with politically that all of our problems will be solved. But I do think it’s where we need to start.
Katie Mazur is a junior political science and media communication major who has a passion for politics. Katie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.