by Brooks Alderman
I stated on Feb. 24 on Facebook that, “I may not agree with everything on the website, but the leftist attacks against His-Campus, for committing the heinous crime of disagreeing, are perfect evidence for why it should exist.” My statement was not aimed at those who were countering His-Campus’ points with arguments of their own, but instead toward those who were mocking its very existence and insulting the authors by name-calling, or reducing them to their race and gender, which adds nothing to the discussion. More often than not, right-leaning sentiments are, at best, not taken seriously, and at worst, those that espouse them are wrongfully accused hateful or bigoted rhetoric, stifling all chances for a reasonable discussion on controversial issues.
Many people at Kenyon have complex views about complicated issues, which certain groups have painted as black-and-white. In the current political climate, not going along with the dominant views at Kenyon means running the risk of being labeled as on “the wrong side” of an issue that is far from binary. Disappointingly, stating conservative points in person rarely leads to a productive dialogue. Too often, I am cut off by someone who is offended by the first part of what I say, before I even have the chance to complete my argument. At other times, they just get frustrated and leave. Perhaps these Kenyon students are afraid of being convinced to change their views; I would be the first to admit that accepting an argument you thought was wrong can be both difficult and scary. But the best way to grow as a person is to hear out the arguments of those whom you disagree with, which is something conservatives at Kenyon do every day of our time here. It is for this reason that having an online publication for conservative thought, such as His Campus, is important at the predominantly liberal Kenyon College, because a statement made in print cannot be interrupted, is much more visible to the community at large, and those who are reading it will be much likelier to absorb the full argument before jumping to conclusions.
I think that His Campus fills Kenyon’s void of right-leaning publications. Her Campus Kenyon is heavily left-leaning, and I would imagine that many conservative women on campus feel alienated as a result. Just as Her Campus, despite its name, is a place for left-leaning members of both genders, I hope that His Campus can become the same, but for those who are more conservative. Their first articles express really interesting points of view that are rarely expressed here at Kenyon, and while I may not personally agree with all of them, they serve as a nice breath of fresh air in the stale Kenyon Bubble.
As with any new publication, His Campus is still working out its kinks. I want to see His Campus succeed, so I will share with the authors some advice. I know that trying to fight fire with fire can be tempting, but I recommend trying to use less confrontative language toward those whom you disagree with; people are much likelier to come over to your way of thinking if they do not feel they are being attacked. You should write in a way that makes readers pause when they get to the end of an article, to truly consider what they just read. They will not do this if they are angry or upset. The best way to convince others of your point of view is to structure your argument like it is a debate: consider possible counter-arguments, and then refute them. Back up every point you make with solid evidence, or data if applicable.
My last point is the one I think is the most important: You can’t win a debate if there is no debate. You should show your readers that you are the ones who are correct by consistently defeating counter-arguments. The Kenyon community will be much more likely to engage with you in a helpful way if they can respond to your articles directly. The best way to do this is to add a comment section to your articles. It is my hope that His Kenyon will facilitate the growth of conservative thought on campus, and the best way to do this is by responding directly to those that try to prove you wrong. If you truly believe that you are right about a point that you are making, then you should feel confident in your ability to out-argue any opposing views that may arise. Her Campus’ purchase of the hiscampus.com domain was a sign of cowardice, and shows they are unwilling to confront opposing views. I have faith that you can succeed in making a more balanced culture here at Kenyon, without resorting to those kinds of tactics.
I can’t wait to see the caliber of articles that Will, Eric, and hopefully many other contributors will be making in a few years’ time on His Campus. Will and Eric, if you want any assistance, feel free to reach out. I’ll help in any way I can.