Student Government should know better than to get involved
On National Coming Out Day Oct. 11, controversy was stirred by the Young Conservatives of Texas at Texas State. A day normally dedicated to members of the LGBTQ+ community was used for a political demonstration.
YCT members set up a makeshift door on The Quad and “came out as conservative,” implying identifying as conservative on campus is just as dangerous as being a member of the queer community. The usage of the door led to backlash, including an official condemnation from Student Government for “affecting other students in an offensive manner.”
The actions by YCT members on that day are not great for a persuasive argument. The political measure was better at creating shock than changing hearts and minds. That being said, there are grievous concerns being raised through the response to the “coming out as conservative” door.
First and foremost, holding this charade has been labeled homophobic, a buzzword used whenever someone does anything even remotely offensive toward the LGBTQ+ community. However, homophobia does not apply here. Offensive and mocking are all better ways to say YCT actions were not right. By using the term homophobic, it shifts the narrative to form an anti-gay cloud over the entire argument. Using “homophobia” for the makeshift door weakens the word and cheapens the meaning for real homophobic moments.
To say conservatives have no reason to feel attacked is laughable. It was not so long ago Student Government tried to remove a conservative group from campus and protests occurred, leading to four arrests after a student’s “Make America Great Again” hat was snatched from his head.
Across the U.S., mainstream conservative commentators like Ben Shapiro have been run off college campuses by protestors, activists and have been assaulted. Professors and students preaching conservative ideals have been targeted for harassment. These issues are not just in conservatives’ heads; attacks are documented in newspapers and over the internet.
Student Government members have proven they cannot be independent arbiters in anything related to conservatives on campus. While hosting a “coming out as conservative” door is done in poor taste, there are free speech concerns to consider.
Throw a stick in any direction on campus and it will likely hit someone who is perpetually outraged over everything. If cancel culture has taught society anything, it is that everything can be viewed as offensive to someone.
It is illogical to engage with events like the door since such occurrences have been happening for years. The 2019 “coming out as conservative” door is no worse than last year or the year before. Student Government members are apparently too ignorant to realize this is exactly the response and press Young Conservatives wanted.
Congratulations student senators and house members, another example was made of an on-campus group attacking a mainstream conservative organization, proving their point and adding another lens to the optics war. Ignoring and giving no attention to YCT members would have caused the event to end, but every year an outraged crowd guarantees its return. If people could actually learn to ignore something instead of acting sensitive toward it, offensive acts might cease to exist.
There are valid concerns for conservative students. Anyone who says otherwise is either part of the problem or has their head buried in the sand. While the YCT door may piss people off and hurt feelings, it is within the political organization’s free speech rights to do as they please in accordance with the law.
Student Government should know better than to get dragged into another battle over ideology. Neither political side is free from mocking, immaturity and downright nastiness. Student Government members are above decisions they have made and should allow for more diversity of thought, even if it results in a demonstration people may disagree with.
– Jordan Drake is a former opinions editor
National Coming Out Day should be respected
The Young Conservatives of Texas at Texas State have demonstrated year after year how difficult their lives are on a liberal campus by “coming out” as conservative during National Coming Out Day, which is significant for people within the LGBTQ+ community. Despite the fact this is an annual occurrence, it continues to make dramatic ripples on campus.
The “coming out as conservative,” door is homophobic, transphobic and downright disrespectful. It undermines how difficult it may be for the LGBTQ+ community to come out in society.
Recent action was taken by the Texas State Student Government Association by denouncing the YCT chapter. Members of the political organization responded in a statement, “To take such a serious matter and arbitrarily blame organizations, which most of the Student Government refuses to talk to, is negligent and dangerous.”
There are several things wrong with the statement produced by Sebastian Quaid, YCT Texas State Chapter Chairman. Students will not speak with the conservative group because they do not believe or care to believe what the organization thinks. It is not dangerous for Student Government to take initiative when an action performed by a student organization belittles a person or group.
Quaid, a voice for conservatives on campus, said how conservative students are afraid to discuss their political beliefs. However, the only reason Republican students might feel “oppressed” or “attacked” is because they come from a background that commends them for such views. Being on a college campus, especially a predominately liberal one, conservative students may struggle to admit their ideologies and actions mommy and daddy told them are okay when in reality, might not be.
The YCT organization claims it has suffered violence and harassment when the only persecution noted is people trolling behind Twitter handles. In 2019, a student’s precious MAGA hat was taken off his head by another student and thrown to the ground. The severity of the harmless action meant a lot more to police and the conservative student it happened to more than anyone else. As a result, four people were arrested after protests ensued.
While Quaid and the rest of his yes-men continue cries of “oppression,” there are numerous members of the LGBTQ+ community negatively affected by coming out for how they identify. According to Postsecondary National Policy Institutes, in Texas alone, 20% of LGBTQ+ college students fear for their physical safety, and 31% of LGBTQ+ students of color reported experiencing exclusionary, intimidating, offensive, or hostile conduct. Texas is a red-voting state, which is why identifying as any minority group alone can be threatening. In this case, conservatives are not, nor will ever, fight that battle.
The action taken by the Student Government was completely appropriate. YCT members at Texas State acted immaturely in creating a door to “come out as conservative,” showing further ignorance within their political party. Student Government is committed to taking action with a lasting positive impact on the community and university.
Additionally, Student Government members aim to uphold the betterment of Texas State for all students through honest, truthful and ethical actions. Nothing about mocking the LGBTQ+ community is moral or ethical, nor did the demonstration have a positive impact on the university body.
YCT members need to realize not everyone is going to agree with their political ideologies. Conservative students will never face the same discrimination as members of the queer community. The only pushback in “fostering any diversity of thought,” is the undermining of the significance of coming out.
The YCT chapter does not need to make a situation out of something members have brought upon themselves. The demonstration in itself was unnecessary and unneeded. The fact this occurs every year with no repercussions is deplorable. Student Government was right to condemn such smalled-mindedness. After all, Texas State is known best for its diversity and inclusion. Quaid and his minions can throw a pity party for someone who actually cares.
-Amira Van Leeuwen is a journalism and mass communication sophomore
Amira Van Leeuwen is the assistant opinions editor at The University Star and has been with The Star since the fall of 2019. As the assistant opinions editor, Amira copy edits opinion content and assists in managing opinion staff. Before that, she worked as an opinion columnist where she wrote columns related to Texas State students and Texas policies. Amira began attending Texas State in the Fall of 2019 after graduating high school from Medina Valley in Castroville, TX where she served as yearbook editor for the student publication The Panther. Amira is currently a sophomore majoring in journalism and mass communication with a minor in political communication.