When I first decided that I was going to attend a liberal arts university, I was inundated with warnings from conservative family members about how truly awful colleges are these days, and how I would be brainwashed by my liberal professors into becoming a communist. They sent me articles about University of California, Berkeley, and anytime Ben Shapiro or Milo Yiannopoulos had a run-in with campus progressives or Antifa protesters, I was the first to know.

So when I finally began school in the fall of 2017, I didn’t really know what to expect. I eagerly went up to the table at the involvement fair for Tigers for Liberty (TFL), asked questions about the club and signed up. I began to go to meetings, attended their socials and even made friends within the club.

The people in the group, majority male, were all unique and interesting in their own way. Some I clicked with more than others, but quickly I became good friends with a solid group of people so much different than the folks I hung out with in high school. Going from having a few close girlfriends to suddenly having a wide friend group of mainly conservative guys was a huge shift — but one that I really enjoyed.

Most memorable was how the guys in the group, especially the upperclassmen, were so quick to take us first-years in. I came into college fearing that it would take me months to make solid friendships, but just one month in, and I had nearly a dozen people come to my room to dunk me in Miller Fountain for my mid-September birthday. None of them realized it at the time, but that night alone made me feel like I belonged at Trinity and that I had people who cared about me.

Gone were the worries about feeling alone as a conservative at a liberal university, as I also made many progressive and non-political friends. But it was truly the guys in TFL who made me feel accepted on campus. They quickly got me involved — just a few months after coming to Trinity, I had already gone to a weekend-long training, competed in a debate on immigration attended by over 50 people and planned a successful club social for Thanksgiving.

Instead of just treating me like any other first-year member of the club, they saw leadership potential and allowed me to do more than just go to meetings. They did the same thing for my other two friends, Emma and Julia, and now the leadership board for TFL is three-quarters female — far from the boy’s club that it once was. Hopefully this means we’ll finally get to make club t-shirts.

Although there are certainly issues with being a conservative on a liberal campus (especially an “out” and visible one like I am), the rewards far exceed any problems you face. There are so many great opportunities to meet people, begin internships, create connections and become friends with people of diverse opinions and perspectives. You also get to hone your skills in political discussion and become even more knowledgeable about the finer points of whatever interests you politically.

So, if you’re a conservative student newly coming to campus, don’t worry. The professors aren’t evil (far from it — they’re amazing and accepting of all opinions, in my experience), it’s not impossible to make friends and chances are you’re going to have a social circle that encompasses a diverse range of people. And if you’re a female conservative student, know that your experience may be a bit different, but great all the same. We’re outnumbered for sure, but that just makes it more fun.

Take the first step by coming to a meeting for Tigers for Liberty, a chapter of Young Conservatives of Texas, and we’ll handle the rest. Isaiah Mitchell, Julia Westwick, Emma McMahan and I are excited to meet you and get you involved in whatever you’re ready for. We’re also here for advice, fun times on a Friday night if you’re feeling lonely or whatever else you need.

Even if you wouldn’t personally identify as conservative, our doors are open to you as well (we have plenty of members who are libertarian, classical liberal or centrist). Come to a meeting, message us on our Facebook page (just search “Young Conservatives of Texas at Trinity”) or flag us down on campus. But whatever you do — don’t feel alone.

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