FOR FREE PEOPLE

FOR FREE PEOPLE

A Princeton professor has argued that conservative students like Columbia student Jonas Du get more out of college.
After I reported on Columbia’s anti-Israel protests, fellow students yelled at me on the street, writes Jonas Du. (Photo by: Sergi Reboredo/VW Pics/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

Getting Harassed on Campus Isn’t ‘Educational’

A Princeton professor has argued that conservative students like me get more out of college.

This piece was first published in our news digest, The Front Page. To get our latest scoops, investigations, and columns in your inbox every morning, Monday through Thursday, become a Free Press subscriber today:

Subscribe now

Is getting harassed by other students evidence of an effective college education? How about getting indoctrinated by professors? Or slandered on social media?

No? None of these? That would put you at odds with an Atlantic essay published Monday that attempts to frame experiences like these as examples, according to its title, of “How Liberal College Campuses Benefit Conservative Students.”

The essay was written by Lauren Wright, who teaches at Princeton. She argues that conservatives at predominantly liberal colleges get “exposure to different perspectives, regular practice building and defending coherent arguments, [and] intellectual challenges that spur creativity and growth.” Wright says these are benefits that liberal students have been “robbed” of. And she says that right-wing critics of these schools are missing something: that it is conservatives, not liberals, who reap “what higher education has long claimed to offer.”

As a right-of-center undergraduate at Columbia, I take Wright’s point. I have certainly derived some benefit from living and learning on a campus where vanishingly few students identify as conservative. I have developed “thick skin” and emerged “more resilient”—two of the benefits cited by Wright. But that doesn’t make up for facing a hostile environment on campus because of my mainstream political beliefs. 

For reporting on Columbia’s anti-Israel protests and the occupation of Hamilton Hall for the Columbia Sundial and The Free Press, other students, including many in student government, slandered me on social media. Others yelled at me on the street. One particularly charming Columbian screamed “Fuck you” and gave me the finger. For the most part, I have been able to shut all this out and remain focused on my reporting. But these experiences don’t feel like an “educational advantage.” 

When Columbia professors attempt to indoctrinate and radicalize students in support of Palestinian extremism, it’s inevitable that pro-Israel students will feel “challenged” in class discussions and develop valuable argumentation skills. That does not mean we should applaud these professors for their intellectual beneficence.

Wright argues that it’d be a mistake for conservatives to abandon elite colleges. I agree. But the intolerance conservative students like me are forced to endure is nothing to celebrate.

Jonas Du is an intern at The Free Press. Read his report on how protesters at Columbia had their criminal charges dropped. Follow him on X @jonasydu.

our Comments

Use common sense here: disagree, debate, but don't be a .

the fp logo
comment bg

Welcome to The FP Community!

Our comments are an editorial product for our readers to have smart, thoughtful conversations and debates — the sort we need more of in America today. The sort of debate we love.   

We have standards in our comments section just as we do in our journalism. If you’re being a jerk, we might delete that one. And if you’re being a jerk for a long time, we might remove you from the comments section. 

Common Sense was our original name, so please use some when posting. Here are some guidelines:

  • We have a simple rule for all Free Press staff: act online the way you act in real life. We think that’s a good rule for everyone.
  • We drop an occasional F-bomb ourselves, but try to keep your profanities in check. We’re proud to have Free Press readers of every age, and we want to model good behavior for them. (Hello to Intern Julia!)
  • Speaking of obscenities, don’t hurl them at each other. Harassment, threats, and derogatory comments that derail productive conversation are a hard no.
  • Criticizing and wrestling with what you read here is great. Our rule of thumb is that smart people debate ideas, dumb people debate identity. So keep it classy. 
  • Don’t spam, solicit, or advertise here. Submit your recommendations to tips@thefp.com if you really think our audience needs to hear about it.
Close Guidelines

Latest