By Mercedes Ortiz
NEW PALTZ – Christine Bobro’s advice for conservative incoming students at SUNY New Paltz are: play devil’s advocate with your professors, don’t conform your views, voice your opinions, make a conservative club on campus, and be yourself.
The 22-year-old Digital Media Production major transferred from Marist College to SUNY New Paltz in the fall of 2015. She is in her third and final semester at SUNY New Paltz. Since transferring colleges, Bobro has made it her mission to keep her political views a secret.
“I was a little worried coming in because I come from a conservative background, all of my friends from Marist are conservative–that’s a very, very conservative college–and coming here I was like I’m gonna keep my mouth shut the entire time!” Bobro said.
With the heat of the upcoming election, Bobro has become more vocal in her political views.
First-year-student Joshua Raber said he’s had 31 of his Trump and Pence stickers stolen and torn throughout the semester. One night, he was woken by his resident assistant because someone left a pile of his ripped stickers in front of his dorm door with Hillary Clinton signs all over them.
Recently, students have been voicing their political opinions by writing in chalk on the walls of the Sojourner Truth Library. When Raber saw a writing that said, “Blue Lives Murder,” he grabbed a megaphone, stood on the academic strip, and said, “Blue lives matter, all lives matter, and blue lives don’t murder.” Raber said that students immediately forced him to stop, called him a racist, and told him that he had no first amendment.
Jeff Miller, Department Chair of Political Science and International Relations, has been teaching at SUNY New Paltz since 1999. Miller says that conservative students play a huge role in the classrooms. “Without conservatives, a lot of the students would be in a gigantic left wing echo chamber where they would hear their views echoed back to them from other students and a good number of faculty too,” Miller said.
According to the school’s website, SUNY New Paltz has no clubs or organizations catered to conservative students. Like Bobro and Raber, Communications Disorders major Gabrielle Dunne feels that the college doesn’t offer a safe haven for conservative students. Dunne said, “If there becomes a place, people would shame them.”