Last week, a student from Washington University in St. Louis penned an op-ed claiming it was “fine” that conservatives “feel their beliefs aren’t welcome on our campus.” But now, after negative feedback, the writer has reversed his position.
Sean Lundergan’s article appeared in his campus paper, where he claimed “it’s a logistical fact of living in human society that not every idea is fit for the public forum” adding, “We only have so many hours in the day. In general, it’s taken for granted that some belief systems are either unnecessary or detrimental to serious discourse, and that’s especially important in an academic environment," The Daily Wire reported.
Lundergan went so far as to say, "[T]here’s no reason to actively accommodate conservatives — especially fans of the president— because their ideas add little value to our discourse."
But now Lundergan appears to be having second thoughts about his article, Campus Reform reported.
In a newly-published article, he clarifies his position.
“I’ve made some people angry,” he wrote. “Much of the criticism consisted of disingenuous false equivalence.”
Lundergan goes on to explain that he disagrees with a lot of the critiques, but “some were leveled in good faith.”
He goes on to provide clarification for his last article by saying that he was only referring to “the American conservative movement of the last 40 years or so,” claiming it is “pretty clunky.” He then emphasizes that he is referring to “conservative ideas” not “conservative people.”
“I really do have conservative friends and family whom I love and respect, and there’s nothing to be gained from attacking people personally,” Lundergan wrote. “In the same vein, I want to make clearer that I don’t want it to be so that people can’t have conservative viewpoints; I was merely suggesting that we as a general student body—across the spectrum—shouldn’t feel a need to prop up any given position. We don’t need to give careful consideration to an idea just because it’s an idea—we’re not having a productive discussion if we’re debating whether or not we should worry about climate change, for example.”
Lundergan then gives personal anecdotes about how having health insurance kept him from paying for expensive medical bills and about his parents who are teachers. “I’m lucky because I’ve been able to choose to work hard, rather than having no alternative,” he wrote.
He also discusses his interaction with police compared to “kids right up in the street in St. Louis” who “have grown up under the stresses of poverty, racism and countless other forms of oppression.”
“Regardless of what individual conservatives feel in their hearts, the implications of that ideology seem unconcerned about those kids,” Lundergan added.
Lundergan claims that since the Nixon administration, “right-wing politics has relied in part on exploiting racism to gain power--a tactic that is alive and well today.”
“When I say ideas don’t inherently deserve equal treatment, it’s because some ideas imply that certain humans don’t deserve equal treatment,” Lundergan concludes. “You’re welcome to think those ideas have merit, but there are consequences to embracing them. There are consequences because politics is consequential.”
On Sunday, the president of the school’s College Republicans, Drew McPike, responded to Lundergan’s first article on Fox & Friends.
“I was surprised by the boldness,” McPike said. “I was just blown away by the fact that he would come out and say something like that and I really was wondering where he found his moral superiority in that to say that conservative ideas aren’t remotely a good thing and they shouldn’t be compared to liberal ones.”
“My reaction immediately was I have good ideas to bring to the political table, and I think that I should be taken seriously and I couldn’t believe someone would dismiss my ideas without knowing me or hearing me out first and I think that’s just something we just can’t have in our political discussions today,” McPike added. “I think that Americans need to remember that we all have one shared goal and that’s to continue to better America’s future and at the end of the time we should all be working towards that shared goal and just to dismiss conservative ideas simply because they are not yours is counterproductive to that goal.”
The vice chancellor for student affairs, Lori White, wrote a letter to the editor of the student newspaper condemning Lundergan's initial article.
“I have heard from several students that the column intensified their sense that they do not belong at our university. That is something I cannot allow to go without response,” White wrote. “I feel it is critical to remind your readers—and, in that way, our entire student body—that we intend for our university to be a place where all are welcome and where diversity of identity, thought and perspective are celebrated.”
“On behalf of the entire administration, I want to state emphatically—as I do frequently—that it is not OK for any student to feel unwelcome at Washington University,” White adds. “No matter a student’s political leanings, background, race, gender, sexual orientation or any other identity.”