“Be an outcast. Be pleased to walk alone.”Alice Walker
This post has been inspired by an article that was passed to me in the Telegraph about what it is like being a Conservative at University. It was an interesting question that I had to consider as my experience is certainly a strange one as for Tory students, there was a degree of toleration and there was a student society. But I still felt like an outcast. Then again, there is nothing wrong with being an outcast. Sometimes it serves you well.
When I first arrived at university, the only political party society was the Labour society but from what I had understood about universities prior to my arrival I was hardly surprised to see that be the case. There was a general Politics society which I joined and this is where I encountered by fellow Tory Students whom if I am honest I took an instant dislike to. So my arrival at university had taught me that while there were many Labour students who I might disagree with politically, they were far more pleasant company than the traditional allies my party leaning would dictate.
It was from having my friends on the left the title of this blog came about, I was described as the “Nice Tory” “Reasonable Tory” “A New Kind of Conservative.” That wasn’t to say we didn’t have our disagreements, but on those issues we did agree to disagree. Granted among some Labour students I was soon the “butt of the joke” and when invited to events I could be made to feel quite uncomfortable. I learned to distance myself from politics at university finding it becoming increasingly polarised the more I examined it. I had my friends, beyond that I wasn’t touching it or getting involved.
Towards the end of my first year there were calls to set up a Conservative society, I was naturally asked to put my signature towards the petition to see it established. I did, although on seeing the other names on the list I knew I wouldn’t be having much more involvement with the society beyond that. So I kept my distance, instead being elected to be an officer with my student union. Many feeling my leanings would serve me well in the post, although they failed to grasp it was apolitical.
My decision to stay away from the Tory society proved to be one of the best I had ever made while at University. Around this time a year ago, just as the Conservative Party Conference was about to begin pictures leaked to the media of my university’s Conservative Society on a night out with various slogans and pictures written on their shirts. While I am unsure of what action the university took against the students, the student union had the society disbanded almost instantly. I was horrified by the actions, although not surprised they had shown themselves as the people they truly were and confirmed my gut feeling towards them at my first meeting.
The point of this post is a simple one, being a Conservative at university is difficult. Many will call you a betrayer of students, call you out of touch and believe just because you are right wing you were born with a silver spoon in your mouth. Learn to ignore them, get a thick skin and be assured in your ideals and beliefs. Equally know that those who call themselves Conservatives might not be your friends and allies, do not flock to them because of your shared beliefs. Being alone at university it difficult, I know that, I understand that because I’ve experienced it. Stick to your ideals and don’t compromise them for the sake of others. There will be others who agree with you and you will get on with, give it time you’ll find each other.
If not listen to Alice Walker and keep it in mind whenever you feel alone.