Opposing perspectives on campus

Michaela Ravasio

Surrounded by the generally liberal residents of Marin County, it is undeniable that students who do not associate with the Democratic party are almost always in the minority.

Though some have no problem standing alone, others have experienced frequent judgment from peers, issues with teachers’ liberal bias, and even the occasional case of harassment.

Senior Keara Reardon said she associates herself with the Republican party, but has some liberal views mixed in with her predominantly conservative philosophies.

Reardon said that when was a freshman, she had a verbal argument with a senior about her support for John McCain in the 2008 presidential election. As she was walking home that day, the same senior pelted eggs at her back while driving by.

“There have definitely been some people who have strongly disagreed with my views over the years,” Reardon said.

Senior Lucas Schornstein said his political beliefs are fiscally conservative, but socially more liberal, and that he constantly notices teachers slipping small liberal biases into their lesson plans.

“It’s just little things, like saying something is ‘wrong,’” Schornstein said. “Most kids wouldn’t notice it, but once I became aware of it, it was apparent.”

Lisa Kemp, an english and social studies teacher, said that though she does not share her political beliefs with her classes, she will give her opinion on some issues.

“If I’m totally neutral, I sound evasive and vague, and then it’s harder for kids to understand,” Kemp said. “When I think laws are stupid, I tell you that law is stupid, and so somebody might say, ‘Oh, she must be Libertarian!’ But that’s a little extreme.”

Kemp  said that based on how some teachers talk in meetings, she doesn’t think all teachers are careful to keep their personal views out of the classroom, on both the liberal and conservative ends of the spectrum.

“It’s very blatant what they believe is right and wrong, and they don’t hide it,” Kemp said. “They also test kids on repeating back to them what they’ve said, which is their beliefs.”

Schornstein described one incident with a particularly liberal teacher who was critical of his views.

“He just told me everything I believed in was wrong,” Schornstein said. “It was a matter of opinion, but whenever I tried to intervene, he said, ‘No, you’re closed-minded, listen.”

Reardon said that she notices at least one teacher implementing their personal political views into a lesson every day.

“Teachers think they can do it because it will be the accepted opinion of the whole class,” Reardon said. “Sometimes they just ignore an entire perspective on an issue just because they think it’s wrong. It’s made learning very difficult, I don’t want to just be tested on their opinion.”

Kemp said that though there is a perception that Redwood is a very liberal campus, it is not necessarily as true as it might seem.

“I’ve assigned a political ideology paper where you examine where your political beliefs come from, and I’ve probably had almost the same amount of kids lean towards the conservative side as the liberal side,” Kemp said. “But I know my conservative students have felt like they’re the minority.”

Madison Zaslav, junior, said she generally has conservative views. Zaslav said that though she definitely feels she is a part of the minority, she doesn’t mind being in disagreement with the majority most of the time.

“Having good friends that are conservatives makes it better,” Zaslav said. “It can be frustrating, just people making assumptions, they’re not open to my ideas. There’s preconceived notions that people have about conservatives.”

Zaslav said that she finds her views to differ most significantly from the majority on the issues of global warming and climate change.

“A lot of people in Marin aren’t open to hearing other sides about it,” Zaslav said. “Environmentalism is pretty dominant in Marin and I’m definitely not a proponent of it.”

Junior Adam Carroll said that though his political views are more conservative, he doesn’t feel like an outsider as a result.

“I don’t feel like I’m marginalized in any way,” Carroll said. “It’s a really accepting community

and it’s great. I don’t have any teachers who are forcing their political views on me.”

Senior Charlotte Jarman said she considers herself to be a moderate Republican.

“I don’t really feel like I’m ostracized by any means unless I get into a political debate with anyone, then that becomes a little more difficult,” Jarman said. “But I don’t feel pressured or anything.”

 

Jarman said that the opinions both teachers and students express create a healthy academic environment at Redwood. “I haven’t felt out of place because a teacher might have a certain viewpoint, but at the same time you definitely can tell that you are in a Democratic community,” Jarman said.