Student Spotlight: Olivia Gallegos

Conservatives have a right to exist on campus too

  • “To many conservative students, the reward of speaking your mind simply does not outweigh the risk.”
  • “I was forced to sit through a two and a half hour-long senate review board meeting where my position in the senate was being debated─ simply because I chose to honor a conservative female role model.”
  • “The best advice I can give to the next generation of college students is to stand firm in your values and don’t allow yourself to be silenced.”

 

Olivia Gallegos
Wichita State University
Biomedical Engineering

You serve on student government at Wichita State and have come under fire for your conservative viewpoints in the past. Tell us about your experience.

My experience in student government has been tumultuous to say the least. When I first joined, I was not made aware of the various committees. Instead, I was thrown on the Diversity, Empowerment, and Inclusion (DEI) Committee. The DEI committee did not do much during the 63rd session until the end. In honor of women’s history month, we were all asked to choose a woman to highlight and submit a short bio on her. I selected Morgan Zegers, founder and CEO of Young Americans Against Socialism, after hearing her speak at the Texas Youth Summit and after other committee members suggested we include a conservative woman for “diversity and inclusion.”

A week after the social media post went up, several students, including fellow DEI committee members, began calling for my resignation. I was forced to sit through a two and a half hour-long senate review board meeting where my position in the senate was being debated─ simply because I chose to honor a conservative female role model. I was told I had violated the Student Code of Conduct with my submission because I “harassed and endangered students.” While these attempts to kick me out ultimately proved fruitless, they set a precedent for future sessions that those with conservative beliefs have no place in the WSU Student Government Association.

In your opinion, do conservative students at Wichita State self-censor their opinions on campus? Why or why not?

I know more conservative WSU students who self-censor than I would like to admit, and they all have said it’s because of fear of retaliation. There are professors at WSU who refuse to read submitted assignments taking a conservative viewpoint. They fear being isolated or removed completely from Greek life and other student organizations. To many conservative students at WSU, the reward of speaking your mind simply does not outweigh the risk.

You are also a campus coordinator for Turning Point USA at Wichita State. How has the group been received on campus? Are they treated the same as other student groups?

Aside from our Student Government Association, Turning Point USA at Wichita State University has been widely received on campus. We encounter many students who are excited we are here and many who, although they disagree with us, understand we have a right to exist. When it comes to fair treatment, we have already seen blatant discrimination from the SGA. Out of the four groups seeking registered club status, we were the only one tabled and denied. Our Student Supreme Court ultimately overturned the decision of the senate, stating that our denial was viewpoint discrimination. No other current student organization at WSU has faced viewpoint discrimination from the SGA. I’m left to believe we were treated differently because of our conservative beliefs.

As a contributor for Campus Reform, what has been the most shocking thing you have discovered in your reporting on liberal bias and abuse on America’s college campuses?

The most shocking thing I have discovered has probably been how often public universities violate students’ First Amendment rights. While most offenses are called out and corrected, there are also a high number of students and organizations that must sue their school before seeing any real change.

In the past, you have tutored high school students in several academic subjects. What do you think will be their biggest challenge as they enter college and the workforce in the 2020s? What advice do you have for them?

Students will have to figure out what they believe and why they believe it very quickly if they want to avoid indoctrination on a college campus. The best advice I can give to the next generation of college students is to stand firm in your values and don’t allow yourself to be silenced.

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