Matt’s Traditional American Values: Let’s rebuild trust with campus conservatives

The Vanderbilt Hustler’s recent endorsement of gun control is an example of a larger distrust between conservative students and our campus leadership

While I really appreciate The Vanderbilt Hustler giving me this opportunity to share my beliefs and values, I believe that our school’s main newspaper is ignoring our conservative and right-of-center students.  My main reason for writing this is the Hustler’s endorsement of gun control following the tragedy in Las Vegas last weekend, but this was not the first example of the Hustler taking a partisan and controversial official position that could alienate students.

In 2014, during my freshman year, the Hustler used its cover page to endorse the ‘No on 1’ campaign here in Tennessee.  For those who don’t know, Amendment 1 amended the Constitution of Tennessee to say, in part, “nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion.”  Tennessee voters passed the amendment with a statewide vote in that November’s elections.  As a student who spent much of that fall going door-to-door and making phone calls to talk with voters in support of the amendment, I (along with other pro-life students) did not feel represented by our campus newspaper when I was essentially told that my viewpoint was wrong by the whole editorial board.

Unfortunately, it goes beyond two high profile editorial endorsements.  The Vanderbilt Hustler has tons of liberal commentators who write from their perspectives on various issues.  I have no problem with that at all, as I strongly believe that every voice should be heard.  However, I have to ask why this is the only regular conservative column.  I am far from the only vocal conservative on this campus (believe it or not, there is a “silent majority” of students who reject the mainstream left-wing politics we often see from the administration, the Hustler and VSG, even if we are often quiet in our views.)  There is no reason for me to be the only voice of conservatism at The Vanderbilt Hustler.

It’s also worth noting that this problem extends well beyond just this newspaper.  Conservatives on campus have to deal every day with hearing nothing but left-of-center opinions from our professors, administration (seriously, why do they need to send us an email criticizing every move President Trump makes?), student government and student media.  At a certain point, we tend to bow our heads down and give up our public fight while privately being very annoyed at the state of the school’s leadership.  I will actually give left-wing activists credit and for their organization and enthusiasm that has allowed them to win campus debates.  But, this does not change the fact that our student newspaper needs to represent all students and give all students a platform to express their views.  

I would like to think that offering me this column is a good first step, but I would like to see our newspaper court the trust of conservative students that it has lost over the years.  More conservative voices and columns would be a good start, rather than statements on divisive issues that will not change anyone’s mind.

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Matt Colleran
Matt Colleran is a senior conservative activist at Vanderbilt. On our campus, he has fearlessly defended his values- free markets, traditional values, and a strong national defense-, leading multiple conservative organizations. Additionally, he has had several internships in the conservative movement and has attended countless conferences of conservative activists. The issue that he is most passionate about has always been the right to life, which he views as the most fundamental of all human rights. His favorite president of all-time is Ronald Reagan. All opinions expressed are his own, not those of any organization.

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