Former First Lady Laura Bush is the 2014 Wonk of the Year

On Monday afternoon, AUSG released the name of the 2015 winner of Wonk of the Year. Much to the joy of some and chagrin of others, the wonderful former First Lady Laura Bush was selected. AU being a very liberal campus, it is no surprise that there was some backlash about the choice. But even as a conservative, I think there are so many more reasons as to why Laura Bush was a fantastic choice for the Wonk of the Year.

According to AU’s Wonk of the Year page, the award recognizes “a well-known individual who represents the embodiment of a wonk.” The award is given to someone who uses “their knowledge and influence to create meaningful change in the world.” Both of the past winners of the WOTY, Bill Clinton and Anderson Cooper, represented these qualities in their own ways. Former FLOTUS Laura Bush certainly embodies those qualities.

Former First Lady Bush is one of the greatest supporters of literacy. Armed with a master’s degree in library science from University of Texas at Austin, she worked in Texas public schools as a teacher and as a librarian. As first lady, she helped found the Texas Book Festival and National Book Festival here in DC. She also created the Laura Bush Foundation for America’s Libraries. The foundation was created to support education by updating and diversifying school libraries throughout America

Through the George W. Bush Institute, Laura Bush is the Chair of the Women’s Initiative which works to “improve the lives of women and girls with education and economic opportunities.” Through the Initiative, Bush manages three programs; the Afghan Women’s Project, the First Ladies Initiative, and the Women’s Initiative Fellowship Program, all of which support women in different roles throughout the Middle East and Africa.

Aside from the Women’s Initiative, the former FLOTUS continues her work on global healthcare innovations, education reform, and supporting the men and women who have served in America’s military. She is also an Honorary Chair of the National Park Foundation, has worked to promote the Junior Ranger program and helped start Preserve America, a national initiative to protect our cultural and natural heritage.

Anita McBride, an executive-in-residence at the School of Public Affairs, directs programming and national conferences on the legacies of America’s first ladies and their historical influence on politics, policy and global diplomacy. Ms. McBride was Mrs. Bush’s chief of staff in the White House from 2005-2009. When reached out to for comment, Ms. McBride explains that “American University has spent considerable time examining the role and influence of American First Ladies. Through our conferences and programs we have highlighted their many contributions throughout our history – many of these women are underreported and overlooked.” Though Laura Bush had often been viewed “as a shy retiring librarian without a thought of her own,” Ms. McBride references a quote from Mrs. Rula Ghani, the new first lady of Afghanistan, in defense of the former FLOTUS; “Once committed to a cause, she’s relentless, she’s resourceful, and she does it so gracefully, and so unobtrusively, that you don’t realize her power until faced with her achievements.”

Ms. McBride says that, “It is fitting that we’re recognizing one of the most active First Ladies in our history and she has remained deeply invested, passionate, and committed to issues she was engaged in during public life.” Ms. McBride has described Laura Bush as a very grounded and very solid person who “helped diffuse (the political rhetoric with) her calm demeanor.” McBride states, “I think one way where First Ladies are unique in this is that they have an ability to rise above the political fray, and bring a human side to our politics. And really help remind Americans that our political leaders, no matter who they are, generally get into this because they want to do something good.”

As the first woman, first conservative, and first First Lady to receive the Wonk of the Year award, I am extremely excited to welcome Laura Bush to American University to speak this upcoming April. We as students at AU should feel honored that she is coming to speak to our school. I speak solely on my own behalf when I say that the decision made by Kennedy Political Union to award former First Lady Laura Bush the 2014 Wonk of the Year was a well thought out and unbiased choice.

Greece vs. Latvia: Left Wing Economics vs. Real Austerity

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Since 2010, a sweeping debt crisis has hammered the Eurozone. The poster child of this crisis is Greece. In October 2014, Greek unemployment stood at 25.8 percent; high unemployment remains a theme in the Greek economy since the 2008 recession. Liberals decry the Greek economy situation as an example of conservative economic principle failures. However, the Greek economy is not an example of real conservative austerity, but rather, the result of liberal economic principles. Unfortunately, Greek austerity arrived too late. Unlike Greece, a country that adopted true austerity is Latvia, and its economic recovery is a testament to conservative fiscal policy.

Setting the standard for the Eurozone, the Stability and Growth Pact (SGP), which laid out the requirements for joining the Eurozone in 1997, stated that a country’s debt and deficit shall not exceed 60% of GDP and 3% of GDP respectively. Unfortunately, countries already in the Eurozone ignored the requirements set by the Stability and Growth Pact. For example, according to Anders Åslund, a leading advocate for austerity, “Greece maintained an average budget deficit of 7.3 percent of GDP from 1990-2009, with a public debt never less than 94 percent of GDP” (Åslund 93). These statistics violate both the Maastricht Treaty and the Stability and Growth Pact. Penalties were not assessed against Greece for its conduct violations. In fact, Greece actually received benefits from being in the Eurozone, such as lower interest rates on loans (Åslund 93). These lower interest rates created an incentive to overspend and borrow recklessly, which led to Greece’s debt crisis.

Following the requirements set forward by the Maastricht Treaty, which has similar requirements to the SGP in regards to debt and deficit requirements, has worked rather well in countries like Latvia. Latvia was in the process of joining the Eurozone when the first recession hit in 2008. The European Central Bank (ECB) placed harsh fiscal constraints on Latvia, so it would still be eligible for admission into the Eurozone. After adhering to the requirements of the Maastricht Treaty, Latvia joined the Eurozone in January 2014. Latvia’s economy now thrives, especially when compared to the Eurozone and European Union (EU) as a whole. Latvia was the fastest growing economy in the EU during 2013 with a real GDP growth rate of 4.2% (“Real GDP”).

In order to understand how Latvia’s and Greece’s paths differed, it is important to look at the role of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The IMF acted passively during the European Debt Crisis. However, the IMF took action during the crisis in Eastern Europe that flared up in late 2008. The IMF initiated programs that stabilized the governments of many Eastern European nations. In fact, Latvia accepted an IMF program in December 2008 (Åslund 37). Latvia’s IMF program totaled 7.5 billion euros, more than one third of its GDP (Åslund 37). Fortunately, Latvia stabilized its economy quickly with the IMF loan and began economic recovery. Unlike Latvia, Greece did not experience the same success. The EU and ECB barred Greece from approaching the IMF, which eliminated the possibility of immediate loans that countries like Latvia received (Åslund 94). This barring led to the deterioration of Greece until it reached bankruptcy. When Greece required a bailout, the EU finally let Greece seek IMF support, which eventually led to marginal stability. Zero hesitation with bailouts in the future will avoid the deterioration of the economic situations within countries.

After examining Greece’s story, comparative qualities emerge from Latvia’s situation. At the end of 2008 Latvia’s foreign debt reached 137 percent of GDP; its GDP declined by 4.8 percent, its budget deficit rose to 4 percent of GDP, and by October 2008 Parex Bank (a national bank) couldn’t receive international financing (Åslund 35). Latvia decided to fight a potential downturn with “internal devaluation,” which is defined by Åslund as, “large cost and wage cuts” (Åslund 35). The reason Latvia didn’t devalue its currency, like the IMF originally recommended, is that it is a violation of the Maastricht Treaty and would have delayed its admission into the Eurozone. Åslund believes devaluation would have devastated Latvia’s economy by sending inflation, debt, and mortgage defaults soaring (Åslund 36). Latvia by almost any measure significantly cut public costs and wages. In December 2008, Latvia passed a program that cut spending and increased a few taxes, which amounted to 7 percent of GDP. In June 2009, Latvia introduced another program that cut its budget by 4 percent of GDP (Åslund 37). These programs together cut public wages by 25 to 30 percent, cut 14,000 public sector jobs (in a country of approximately 2,000,000 people), and eliminated half the government’s agencies (Åslund 37).

The success of these programs in Latvia is undeniable. Since Latvia introduced budget cuts, its economy is the fastest growing in the EU (“Latvia GDP Growth Rate.”). Latvia also had the third fastest unemployment decline in the EU, 3.1%, from 2012 to 2013 (“Unemployment statistics.”). Latvia also saw the largest decrease in the “at-risk-of-poverty rate” in the EU of 3.9%, in 2012 (“People at Risk”). From 2009 to the fall of 2013 Latvia’s exports, “have increased by more than 40%,” and “its export market share has increased from 0.07 to 0.08 percent” (Blanchard). Latvia also paid off its IMF loan in December 2012, three years earlier than expected (“Why Austerity Works”). This conservative economic model enabled Latvia to reduce its budget deficit to 1.5 percent of GDP by 2012 (Eglitis).

Even though the media might portray the Greek budget cuts as harsh and dramatic, they are miniscule compared to Latvia’s budget cuts, which is why Greece did not stabilize its economy. While Latvia slashed the number of public sector workers by 14,000, in Greece: “There have been no mandatory dismissals yet in the public sector… Those in the public sector who are unqualified or low performing have continued to have protected jobs” (“IMF Survey”). In fact, since 2010 (the year Greece received its first bailout) to 2011, Greece added 5,000 civil servants to its payrolls (“Why Austerity Works”). Latvia had a fiscal adjustment, a change in government spending, of 9.5% of GDP in 2009 alone, as Greece from 2010 to 2012 saw only a fiscal adjustment of 9% of GDP (“Why Austerity Works”).

Conservative economic policy rescued Latvia from the brink of financial ruin. Latvia went from massive bailouts to the fastest growing economy in the EU after immediately embracing smaller government during financial crisis. On the other end of the spectrum, Greece half heartedly reduced government spending. This Keynesian liberal form of economic policy drove Greece into a complete economic collapse that shrunk the Greek economy by 25% (Lowen). When analyzing the results of these two EU nations, it is clear that real austerity leads countries out of economic parel.

Works Cited

Åslund, Anders. The Last Shall Be the First the East European Financial Crisis, 2008-10. Washington, DC: Peterson Institute for International Economics, 2010. Print.

Åslund, Anders. “Why Austerity Works and Stimulus Doesn’t.” Bloomberg, 7 Jan. 2013. Web. 9 Feb. 2014.

Blanchard, Olivier, Mark Griffiths, and Bertrand Gruss. “Boom, Bust, Recovery Forensics of the Latvia Crisis.” Brookings. Brookings Institute, 19 Sept. 2013. Web. 17 Feb. 2014.

Eglitis, Aaron. “Latvian Budget Deficit Was 1.5% of GDP in 2012, Ministry Says.” Bloomberg, n.d. Web. 21 Feb. 2014.

“IMF Survey : Greece Makes Progress, But More Effort Needed to Restore Growth.” International Monetary Fund. International Monetary Fund, 5 June 2013. Web. 17 Feb. 2014.

Lowen, Mark. “Eurozone ‘backs Greece Reform Plans'” BBC News. 24 Feb. 2015. Web. 24 Feb. 2015.

“People at Risk of Poverty or Social Exclusion.” Eurostat. Web. 22 Feb. 2015.

“Real GDP Growth Rate – Volume.” Eurostat. Web. 21 Feb. 2015.

“Unemployment statistics.” Statistics Explained RSS. Eurostat, n.d. Web. 21 Feb. 2015.

Exiling the Homeless, One Spike at a Time

For many, metropolitan centers symbolize the American dream. Towering sky scrapers and animated streets display the gorgeous outputs of capitalism. Interestingly enough, American metropolitan centers weren’t always hotbeds of wealth and success. A series of metropolitan policy changes and technological advances precipitates today’s scenic downtown image. Policy reformation involved exiling homeless populations to ensure downtown locations as a playground for wealthy and middle class Americans.

Previously, cities like Detroit, Cleveland, New York, and other industrial centers housed factories that employed millions of diverse Americans, even during the malaise of segregation. Following improved technology, factories replaced employment with automation, and opportunity diminished. The mass production of the automobile and extension of the railroad enabled white Americans, or anyone with substantial finances, to relocate their homes outside of urban centers. Similarly, factories fled the urban landscape for the suburbs and anti-labor union lands in the South. While the affluent enjoyed their suburban lives, metropolitan centers experienced declining tax revenue, virtually no employment opportunity, and large minority populations that lacked the social mobility to follow their employers into the suburbs.  Soon enough, the “Rust Belt” and other industrial economies crumbled.

After the decimation of “downtown,” cities, starting with Los Angeles (L.A.), reformed metropolitan policy to regain tax revenue they once gleaned from corporations and wealthy or middle class Americans. Many whites viewed “downtown,” their former workplace and home, as an impoverished habitat for unrespectable people, e.g. minorities. Essentially, L.A. tasked itself with removing minority and homeless communities that populated center city. Urban planning, in which metropolitan governments invoked eminent domain to destroy neighborhoods and replace them with grandiose commercial settings, effectively placed minorities into the L.A. periphery. To distinctly separate the periphery from downtown, further policy implications created a hardened downtown core restricting low-income persons from successfully populating center city. Soon, wealthy whites and the middle class flushed back into L.A., creating the crystalline “downtown” image associated with places like Manhattan, Inner Harbor, and the Chicago Loop in exchange for a violent undertone from displaced minorities struggling in peripheries. Some cities, such as Detroit and Cleveland, never emerged from the doldrums; however, many others adopted the L.A. blueprint and waged political war against the homeless and low-income communities to create ritzy urban life.

Exemplifying policy displacing the homeless, metropolitan centers expel vagrants with “homeless spikes.” Homeless spikes are geometric formations attached to flat surfaces, typically in the shape of a spike or pyramid, that make it impossible to sit or lie comfortably. Metropolitan governments add homeless spikes to surfaces on street corners, alleyways, and underneath bridges, effectively barring the homeless from vesting in public space. In many cases, governments argue that anti-homeless policies intend to “cut-costs,” such as the elimination of public bathrooms. Actually, adding homeless spikes to infrastructure is more costly than not doing so. Therefore, homeless spikes are the most visible component of metropolitan policy that intentionally exiles the homeless; governments embody more costs to do so.

Through an economic lens, homeless spikes are simply a form of intergovernmental competition. Essential to conservatism are laissez faire economics and small-government attitudes. Private entities must compete with one another, and the victors will reap the benefits from profits. In a sense, homeless spikes are methods in which metropolitan governments compete with one another: in order to display the most “presentable” downtown image, neighboring cities will deploy homeless spikes to portray order and prestige. Whichever city rids of its homeless population will take on a “more-respectable” image, and its local economy will reap the benefits from increased residency, tax revenue, and transactions. By laissez faire, homeless spikes are the product of competition, where metropolitan centers with the financial capacity to implement homeless spikes should do so to improve their market product. The federal government, on the other hand, should not interfere.

Although homeless spikes make sense for a free market, they infringe upon the integral conservative belief in equal opportunity. Equal opportunity is the belief that a person willing to relentlessly pursue his or her goals is entitled to the opportunity to do so. Homeless spikes, however, eliminate equal opportunity for the homeless. Since conservatives tout the idea of equal opportunity, some view the homeless as the people unwilling to relentlessly pursue their goals, or as downright lazy. In most cases, labeling the homeless as lazy is damn wrong. Homeless men and women are tasked with demanding inconveniences on a daily basis, such as finding clean running water or their next meal. While finding sustainable employment may be the key to eating and drinking, minimum wage jobs still do not guarantee the financial sustainability for acquiring housing. Whether the homeless should have housing is not in question; most conservatives believe that the homeless have to earn the financial capacity for housing. The issue is that homeless spikes prevent the homeless from residing in cities as vagrants, making it impossible to find long-term employment and sustainability, which conservatives believe is the panacea for eliminating homelessness.

Essentially, the crux of the homeless spike debate is as follows: if the largest employment opportunity exists in metropolitan centers, and the homeless need to reside in metropolitan centers to find jobs, why is the government exiling them? Vagrant men and women who travel to cities for employment cannot reside in public space, even temporarily. Homeless spikes, along with geometrically uncomfortable bus benches, excessive park sprinkler systems, vagrancy laws (laws permitting incarceration of people residing in public space), and the overall privatization of public space (including restrooms) make it impossible for a willing homeless person to find a job in a metropolitan center. A true conservative sees homeless spikes, and policy with similar intentions, as the rupturing of personal liberties. “Big government” is not one that bans homeless spikes, but one that consistently polices public space and punishes those who revel in it. Regardless of the economic point of view and the inherent competition between neighboring cities, equal opportunity is a falsehood in the presence of homeless spikes.

Checks and Balances: The DHS Funding Debacle

After an absolutely brutal shellacking in the 2014 midterm elections, President Obama was despondent. Republicans picked up nine seats in the Senate, thirteen seats in the House, and netted three new gubernatorial seats (Republican Bruce Rauner’s win in Illinois for the governorship was a particularly stinging defeat for Obama). By all objective standards, the 2014 Midterm Elections were a historic drubbing for the Democratic Party.

New Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) spoke in a press conference on November 5, 2014, the day after the midterm trouncing. Speaking from a podium in Louisville, Kentucky, Senator McConnell spoke at length about the possibilities of bipartisanship with the new Congress and President Obama: “When the American people chose divided government, I don’t think it means they don’t want us to do anything. I think it means they want us to look for areas of agreement.” Senator McConnell also promised to get the Senate voting on legislation once more, saying: “From an institutional point of view, the Senate needs to be fixed. The Senate in the last few years basically doesn’t do anything. We don’t even vote.” President Obama, whose only promise of bipartisanship was a pledge to “enjoy having some Kentucky bourbon with Mitch McConnell,” did not match McConnell’s optimism about bipartisanship.

In the early days of November 2014, President Obama’s approval rating hovered around a dismal 41%, a factor that certainly played into his party’s demolishment in the midterms. Facing the last two years of his administration, Obama was determined to avoid becoming another lame duck president. Motivated by the treacherous midterm election results, the president made the perplexing decision to move even farther left by introducing a barrage of ultraliberal ideas. Despite the 2014 Midterm Elections being widely interpreted as a referendum on his presidency, President Obama was almost defiant in his reaction to the new gains made by Republicans. Chief among Obama’s proposals, which included the bamboozling decision to normalize relations with the Castro Regime in Cuba, was an executive order that created a new amnesty program and expanded another.

President Obama’s executive amnesty will give illegal immigrants residing in the United States for five years or longer, with children that are U.S. citizens, a three-year work permit that would allow them to obtain Social Security cards and driver’s licenses. According to Pew Research, a whopping 3.5 million illegal aliens would qualify for this program. In addition to this new amnesty program, an expansion of the existing Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals would also go into effect. This expansion would provide amnesty for all illegals that entered the U.S. as a minor before 2010. Pew Research estimates that this expansion would provide eligibility benefits for approximately 235,000 more illegal immigrants.

To anybody with a modicum of knowledge of American politics, President Obama’s executive amnesty screams of an attempt to score last minute political points with his progressive base at the expense of the American people. This executive order would have a disparate impact on Southern border-states, whose police departments would be forced to deal with a higher workload, more crime, and a greater influx of illegal immigrants. In addition, a poll by Bloomberg Magazine in December 2014 found that 56% of Americans disapprove of Obama’s executive amnesty. Even more remarkable is the complete about-face the president made in regards to immigration reform. From as early as March 2008 to as recent as August 2014, President Obama espoused that he could not act unilaterally on immigration reform over twenty times. “I’m not a king,” President Obama said on January 30, 2013, “If this was an issue that I could do unilaterally I would have done it a long time ago. … The way our system works is Congress has to pass legislation. I then get an opportunity to sign it and implement it.”

Congress, quite thankfully, has the power of the purse. The only thing Congressional Republicans can do to thwart this executive amnesty is to defund the measure. The so-called “CRomnibus” (a combination of a continuing resolution and omnibus) bill passed in December 2014 was a step in the right direction. While this omnibus bill breezed through Congress, funding most federal agencies until September of 2015, it left out one department. Of course, the only department that remained unfunded by this omnibus bill was the Department of Homeland Security. On January 14 of this year, the House of Representatives passed a $40 billion spending to fund most of DHS, with provisions to stop Obama’s executive amnesty dead in its tracks.

When the $40 billion spending package was introduced in the Senate, Democrats filibustered it endlessly, demanding the House pass a “clean bill” to fund DHS. This “clean bill” would also provide funding for the aforementioned executive amnesty. Filibustering by Democrats has officially killed the DHS funding bill, with Senator McConnell calling on the House to pass a DHS funding bill that would garner the 60 Senate votes necessary to send it to the president’s desk. “The House has done its job,” House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) mercilessly contended, “ask Senate Democrats when they’re going to get off their ass and do something-other than to vote no.”

Conservative commentator Charles Krauthammer has called on Senator McConnell to abolish the filibuster, making the process of obstruction for the Democrats virtually impossible: “Reid went first. Time for Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to finish the job. Push the button. Abolish the filibuster.” The nuclear option seems to be the only way to go to pass a spending bill that will get to the president’s desk. If a bill is not passed by February 27, the Department of Homeland Security will shut down. With the deadline looming on funding such a vital part of our government, Congressional leadership must do something.

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America and the Future of Afghanistan

While President Obama’s tenure has involved countless geopolitical failures, the decision to remove troops from Afghanistan by 2016 tops the list. From 2009-2012, the number of boots on the ground in Afghanistan remained above 50,000 (CRS).  Fast-forward to January 2015 and the U.S. troop level is below 10,000. With the continual threat of terrorism in the Middle East and the rise of groups like ISIS, now is not the time to withdraw or reduce the military budget. President Obama’s decision to remove troops is unjustified; furthermore this shows that the U.S. has quit on the mission it embarked upon in 2001.

Now President Obama and a majority of mainstream liberals favor the withdrawal of all U.S. troops by 2016; however this is an invitation for the resurgence of the Taliban and other terrorist groups to regain power in Afghanistan. Although liberals want to walk away from Operation Enduring Freedom due to the $641.7 billion already spent, objectives within the mission remain uncompleted: preventing the use of Afghanistan as a safe haven for terrorists and to develop relations with groups opposed to the Taliban. (2013 DOD estimates) Many provinces within Afghanistan are not a safe haven for terrorists, but removing all troops at will jeopardize what the U.S. has achieved in the past 14 years. The U.S. has worked with Afghan forces in counter-terrorism efforts and on how to protect their own people.

Former Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai said in 2013 that, “Without liberty, there is evil.” If President Obama remove all troops by 2016, then the Taliban  will likely regain power within the next few years and evil will reign once again. Anti-war hippie liberals often claim, “this war is pointless and the U.S. should just end it now.” Let’s examine this argument further though. Is this a war that has a clear objective? Yes, although the strategy has evolved since 2001 (boots on the ground to counter-insurgency operations), terrorism is still a powerful force in the Middle East and in other parts of the world. Just look at events such as 21 Christians that were beheaded last week. Second, what would be the annual costs of having a force of U.S. troops in Afghanistan? An active U.S. military presence, typically 30,000 troops, would cost around 40 billion annually (CRS 2009). Considering how much the U.S. has already invested, withdrawing troops is comparable to mowing a lawn and not completing the job. The Obama administration is wrong to treat this situation on a timetable basis. Instead, America should continue to support a country where democracy, freedom, and anti-terrorism operations have shown success against the Taliban. The U.S. should not only fight this war to provide regional stability in the Middle East, but to protect American interests both at home and abroad.

First, let’s examine one of the primary achievements made by U.S. forces in Afghanistan: an active participation of women in society. Under Taliban rule, women were systemically discriminated against and were barred from health care, education, politics, and employment. Only 3% of girls were able to attain a basic education (UN). In addition, the Taliban prohibited women from driving and governing; thus excluding them from taking part in society. According to the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, 68% of community based schools were female in 2012. In addition, education enrollment in Afghanistan has skyrocketed from one million to over seven million since 2003. The the number of Afghan women receiving health care increased from 9% to 60% from 2002-2010. While there is much data above, when liberals try to argue that the lives of women or citizens in Afghanistan have not improved under a U.S. military presence, their point is not only ridiculous, but invalid.

By pulling out all troops, this is a slap to the face to the U.S. military, NATO members, and Afghanistan. President Obama’s decision to withdraw troops by 2016 signals terrorist regimes do not pose a significant threat to the U.S. or Afghanistan. The matter of Afghanistan is one many Americans have an opinion about. This is a conflict that has been going on for 14 years now and may last another decade. However, if the U.S. decides to give up now, then then the Taliban may seize control of Afghanistan once again and be able to terrorize even more citizens. As a superpower in the world, backing away from terrorism is not a viable option.

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Conservative Students: Bullied into the Shadows

As I sat in my Monday morning policy course, I listened to my professor say, “Conservative students have complained about being uncomfortable on a campus as liberal as AU, well then WHY ARE YOU HERE?” Dear Professor, believe me I have already asked myself that question.

If you are a student at American University, there is no doubt that you have heard professors spew hatred for the political Right. Yep, that’s us, sitting silently in class while our professors push liberal- and often socialist- agendas on the next generation of lawmakers, doctors, teachers, diplomats, and Starbucks baristas.

Conservative reader, I am writing to comfort you; you are not alone. This fall so many conservative students experienced discrimination in the classroom that a team of faculty members met with these students to discuss their experiences. Consequently, a panel of our peers spoke about the marginalization of conservative students at the Ann Ferren faculty conference this January. One of those students, the president of American University College Republicans, Nick Hunt presented the honest numbers to some of our favorite professors.

Nick has dedicated his School of Public Affairs Leadership Program studies to the marginalization of conservative voices in the classroom. In Nick’s studies, he reported that a 2013 survey, by Kendall Karr, of 182 American University students revealed that 15.4 percent of participants identified as conservative. This study also revealed that 85.8 percent felt that they were “somewhat politically active” or higher. These results are not completely shocking. American University is known as the nation’s most politically active university.

Also not shockingly, this study revealed that 98.4 percent of those participants had witnessed “a student make an insensitive or disparaging remark about another student’s political beliefs.” At an institution like American where political discussions are inevitable, there are bound to be heated conversations and rude remarks.

However, the line must be drawn when professors use the classroom as their own personal means to limit intellectual diversity. Kendall Karr’s study found that 79.1 percent of participants said they had “heard a university faculty member make an insensitive or disparaging remark about a student’s political beliefs.” Karr’s study shows that on average, the vast majority of American University students have witnessed biased professors abusing their power to criticize conservative students. That number doesn’t even represent how many times those students have heard professors doing it.

This behavior is a trend for professors across the country. The university campus is one of the hardest places to be a conservative individual. The biased and hostile American University classroom is not a conducive environment for learning or intellectual diversity. The classroom attitude is conformity or silence. However, the administration at American University has recognized the hindrance that this behavior places on students’ educational growth. Ultimately, conservative students must speak up and work with their professors to change the narrative on campus. The actions at the Ann Ferren faculty conference show that faculty members are willing to work with us. Be brave because you are not alone. Young, intelligent, Right-leaning students are the liberal professor’s worst nightmare.