St. Olaf Hate Threatens Conservative Students: At Least Two Leave School
Anti-Trump hysteria has swept over St. Olaf College. According to an article in Manitou Messenger, the student newspaper, many conservatives face a hostile environment and report they have been violently threatened because of their beliefs. Consequently, these students “keep their heads down” in class, hid their political beliefs, and at least two are leaving the school because of such an ugly atmosphere on campus. Drudge even picked up a story on the situation written by higher education news website The College Fix.
In the Classroom
“I’m fine being political with a one-on-one discussion,” Larson said, “but when everyone else is liberal in the class … I keep my head down.”
Reagan Lundstrom Warner ’20 is a political science major who has “learned how to keep [her] mouth shut.” While faculty are encouraged to remain unbiased, she said that one of her professors used class time to expound upon personal views.
“[A professor] started every class with basically just ridiculing Trump for about 20 minutes,” Lundstrom Warner said. She plans to transfer to St. Thomas University next fall. Peter Linder ’20 had a similar experience.
“My professor is definitely liberal,” Linder said. “She makes a lot of cracks about Trump or sometimes seems outraged by his decision. So I’m not going to bring up my point of view and possibly bring down my grade.”
During Election Season
Even though the St. Olaf College Republicans never endorsed Trump, “the club’s window display explaining its position was torn down three times last spring.”
Many conservative students felt that the campus became more hostile during election season, and some students received violent threats. On the night of the election, a student in the Pause threatened to beat up [club president Emily] Schaller, calling her a “f***ing moron.” Over the next couple of days, she overheard multiple students threaten to hurt the next conservative or Republican they saw. Vice President of St. Olaf College Republicans Kathryn Hinderaker ’19 had a similar experience.
“I think one of the hardest things was, the second day, I went into Buntrock and someone yelled from the bottom, ‘if you voted for Trump, you better be f***ing scared.’ Everyone clapped and applauded,” Hinderaker said. “Obviously, it didn’t feel super safe.”
Former student Katie Ivance also felt unsafe in the days surrounding the election.
“The week around the election, right after, I could not go to class. I didn’t feel safe, I actually went home for awhile,” Ivance said. In her Spanish class, “people were like, ‘you’re awful, you’re racist, you’re this, you’re that,’” she said.
Ivance noted that the insults continued on social media.
“People were saying [things] like ‘F-you’ and ‘I wish you were dead,’” she said. Ivance isn’t the only one who has faced harassment online due to political beliefs. On Feb. 18, a student posted an unsolicited photo of a group of students that supposedly included Trump supporters and encouraged fellow students to “remember their faces.”
Ivance transferred to the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities after the fall semester, citing harassment as her primary reason for transferring.
“I didn’t want to keep myself in that situation,” she said. “I didn’t know how long it would last.”
Republicans at St. Olaf are a tiny minority as students voted 82% to 10% for Clinton over Trump. I wonder, if Obama was still president, would he would have the U.S. Department of Education investigate the hostile environment St. Olaf conservatives are facing on campus.
Peter Zeller is Director of Operations at Center of the American Experiment.