Living la vida Republican

By KARA BASKIN  |  October 22, 2008

Brown also says that, like Brandeis, Tufts isn’t as diverse as it claims. “Tufts has an international [student] population of something like 18 percent,” she says. “A survey was done a couple of years ago about Tufts’s political ideology, and they couldn’t find a single professor or anyone in the faculty who either identified with conservatives or would consider themselves Republicans. To have no professors or faculty who view themselves as remotely right, it just demonstrates the overwhelming liberal majority of this school. . . . I think there are professors who are smart enough to respect the other side, but you also get professors who are misinformed and inject that opinion into class.”

In this climate, it’s tough to “come out” as a conservative. Rothman is currently a resident assistant and says that “there are so many more conservatives at Brandeis than are publicly acknowledged. A lot of people in my hall are conservative, but they don’t want to come out — they know there will be bias against them.”

The more things change . . .
One person seeking to change all that is Ryan Boehm, the scion of a liberal Duxbury family who now works for the Massachusetts Family Institute (pro-abstinence, anti–gay marriage, etc.). The former vice-chair of the Massachusetts Young Republicans, Boehm, who’s “been in politics since age 10,” says that while Beacon Hill might be liberal, Massachusetts as a state is more conservative than people like to admit. “Massachusetts was a Republican state — my great grandfather was a Republican state rep in Somerville,” he says. “Massachusetts has a rich Republican history, and I truly believe we can get back to that.”

Boehm went to Suffolk University, where he did his best to spread the conservative word. “Students for Peace and Justice was circulating a petition to go against the war,” he says. “And I got pro-war signatures, too — that was humbling. I ran into so many students who were not actively political, and therefore I wouldn’t have been friends with them or engaged with them otherwise. But going up to random students and asking them to support the troops, many of them said to me, ‘Wow, I thought I was the only one on campus.’ It’s encouraging to know that there are others.”

Business as usual
Perhaps the only place it is fulfilling to be a college conservative is at business school, where many students espouse a limited-government approach to things. Anthony Van Wijngaarden, 21, founded the Babson College Republican Campaign Committee. “It’s fun to be a Republican here,” he says. “It’s exciting.” A native of the Netherlands, Van Wijngaarden can’t vote in the upcoming election, but no matter. “I just like the fundamentals of the party,” he says. “Low taxes. Strong military. Limited government.” He’s doing his part to get Republican students registered and will drive people to the polls on November 4. He estimates that about 60 percent of students at Babson are Republicans, and says that a pro-Obama committee only recently formed on campus. His conservative group holds events every other week and has more than 50 members.

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