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Letter to the Editor: “Liberal bias” and anti-LGBTQ rhetoric

Outgoing Student Body Vice President Aidan McKeon has some things to say regarding homophobia and conservative voices on campus.
Outgoing Student Body Vice President Aidan McKeon has some things to say regarding homophobia and conservative voices on campus.

The following does not in any way reflect an official statement or opinion by the Associated Student Government or any other member of the Executive Cabinet or Student Senate. 

It’s long been said that Democrats fall in love and Republicans fall in line.

At Miami University, I feel that it’s no different. At least during my three years here at Miami, the MU College Republicans have out-organized and out-numbered College Democrats constantly. To me, this is not for lack of leadership in College Dems – it’s because, in my experience, many progressive Miamians tend to devote their time and energy to a range of other organizations like Associated Student Government, Diversity Affairs Council and its affiliate organizations, the Wilks Institute, FWORD and many more. We’re spread out – doing our own thing in various areas. 

Politically active conservative students tend to coalesce in College Republicans – and why wouldn’t they? The organization is well connected with the Ohio Republican Party, who grant internships and other professional development opportunities to their members all the time. They have a large and dedicated membership, regular programming and a revolving door of visiting candidates and high office holders. 

I believe this is what leads to the predominantly progressive makeup of other student leadership organizations, and accusations of “anti-conservative bias” that have been lodged at them in recent years.

This is one of the factors that lead to the creation of The Miami Patriot, chartered last year to “foster civil dialogue” and “promote intellectual freedom.” The Patriot hasn’t graced us with a new article for a few months, but some highlights from their initial burst of posts include the classic “my voice is being silenced in class” article and some musings on ideological diversity from the same publication who brought you an attack on Jannie Kamara, the first Black woman to serve as Miami’s Student Body President, for a tweet criticizing police from her personal Twitter account. 

I have been involved in Associated Student Government for three years and have certainly seen my share of conservative students come and go. It’s important for me to note here that being in the ideological minority in spaces like ASG can have its challenges, and I am well aware that we as an organization have historically had an inclination toward groupthink.

However, in my three years in ASG, I have never seen a conservative voice “silenced.” 

I have seen conservative voices confronted with opposition and criticism – sometimes even disproportionately so – but that’s different from being silenced. Freedom of speech is not freedom from criticism.

In fact, this year I have seen repeated attempts to avoid topics or initiatives that could be construed as “political,” and even bids to persuade members to vote against their own beliefs in order to dodge controversial topics altogether. This is normally predicated on the notion that an ill-defined “majority of students” might not agree.

And yet, instead of seeking to persuade or include marginalized students, the Miami College Republicans have decided to antagonize them. Their latest target is the transgender community, who they have been relentlessly assailing via Twitter and Instagram.

In an April 25 tweet, MU College Republicans announced simply “There are only two genders,” a common transphobic refrain invoked by far-right figures to attack and bully trans and non-binary individuals as well as inflame leftists in general. Other tweets followed, referring to “men in women’s restrooms,” a completely transphobic, tired and debunked cliché regarding transgender women. 

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The pro-free speech maverick Miami University College Republicans turned off replies to the transphobic tweets.

I think it would be a good thing to see more crossover between College Republicans and ASG, and other advocacy organizations as well. I participated in a debate with Taylor Armstrong, the College Republicans’ former chairman, before the 2020 presidential election and earnestly appreciated his point of view on many issues, even though I disagreed. There are senators in ASG who are also active within College Republicans who regularly contribute meaningful discourse and, from what I’ve seen, genuinely care about making Miami a better place. 

However, attacking the trans community does not make Miami a better place. It doesn’t make their organization a better one. It further discourages LGBTQ+ student leaders from associating with the College Republicans, and limits any possibility of a future dialogue with the community they are antagonizing.

I care about students being united in our advocacy and learning from each other. I want the College Republicans to involve themselves in more channels of student leadership because it will make us stronger.

But I don’t want that more than I want to be an ally to the trans community. So until the CRs recognize the damage they are doing and correct course, I’m not losing any sleep over their continued descent into pariah status. 

—Aidan McKeon, Student Body Vice President