The community surrounding Dickinson feels very inclusive to me. The way I see it, pretty much anybody on campus is an insider. There are the obvious ones like students, professors, and other college faculty, but there are also other groups that I would consider to be a part of the campus community. Prospective students taking tours, Carlisle residents walking their dogs down D-Walk, and local preschools going on fieldtrips to campus are all included in the campus community. I think the main thing that determines whether or not somebody is considered an outsider is how to think of the campus/existing community. If they are adding to it or respectfully observing it, I’d consider them to be a part of the community. Another factor to this is how the existing community responds to new members. If the overall campus doesn’t feel safe or respected by somebody or some group, they aren’t included in it.
At the most basic level, a community is really just a group of people who have some baseline level of respect for each other. Each community has a different threshold for how much respect one needed to be a part of it, and some have other requirements, like certain identities, certain religions, certain ideologies, etc.. Here at Dickinson, I feel like the requirements are fairly low and there isn’t a specific ideology, trait, religion, or belief that’s required to fit in.
That doesn’t mean that there aren’t dominant traits within the community though. From my experience, the general political ideology of Dickinson community members is fairly left-leaning, with a larger number of more radical ideologies on campus. I myself would be considered as a more radical leftist (9-Axes labels me as a libertarian communist) and I feel very welcomed and similar to many people on campus. When I was in high school, it was a very different experience. Despite my high school having over 1,500 more students than Dickinson, I felt like there were fewer people who aligned with me politically. I was in YDSA (Young Democratic Socialist of America) and we had about 10 members at our highest, and even then only about 6 would show up to meetings. Here at Dickinson, the Worker’s Party Club has 58 members. While they aren’t the same exact club, the general beliefs are pretty similarly aligned. There are also dozens of people outside of the club that I feel very similarly aligned to, and from the people I’ve talked to, all of them agree that Dickinson is pretty left leaning politically.
That doesn’t mean that you have to be a radical leftist to be respected on campus. On my mock trial team for example, our captain is a fairly right-wing conservative (She went to CPAC just a few weeks ago and said she felt like she fit in pretty well). Despite our extreme differences in ideology, our team still has the utmost respect for her. Because we’re all students at Dickinson and we’re all already part of that community, we’re able to see past our political differences and be successful as a team. My experience working with her throughout the semester has actually changed my view on conservatives as plural others.
Now that I’ve had time to actually talk to somebody on the opposite end of the American political “spectrum”, I no longer see most conservatives as a group of capitalism loving, poor taxing, healthcare denying, corporate shills. Don’t get me wrong, there still are plenty of these, but they are a subgroup of the general conservative others. I think I always knew this deep down, but didn’t really take it into consideration because I just saw them as people who countered my beliefs and goals. Conservatives were definitely the largest group that I saw as plural others, and it had a massive impact on how I viewed them.
I think a big reason for this is the Internet. Not to reinvent the wheel, but I think the Internet has polarized American society more than anything else (Super unique concept, I know). For me specifically, the media I consume/get served about conservatives is almost exclusively about people like Jordan Peterson, Ben Shapiro, Charlie Kirk, Steven Crowder, and the rest of the “Intellectual Dark Web”. They obviously don’t represent the beliefs of every conservative, but they are some of the loudest. This has led me to automatically associate conservatism with them and their beliefs. Sure, there are plenty of people who believe in everything they say, but it’s certainly not the majority. The practical impacts of this are that I used to me much more closed minded to anybody who identified as conservative, even before I heard anything about what they specifically believe. This is actually pretty detrimental to me achieving my goals, as I share a few beliefs with right-wing libertarians (Specifically pertaining to the structure of nations and their governmental structure).
Overall, I think that generalizing other groups has its merits for simplifying communication and non-specific use cases, but as soon as things get into specific issues, it does more harm than good and can lead to unnecessary stalemates.
For anybody interested, here are my exact results for the 9Axes test. I took the long version of the test. I highly recommend checking it out. The test certainly has a lib-left bias (like most political alignment tests) but it’s better than most of the other ones I’ve seen.
One response to “Blog Post 2”
Hi Chris, this was an absolutely fascinating read. You made arguments I had never heard before regarding the Dickinson community. Thank you so much for this fresh and unique perspective. I do have one question to ask you though. You say that observers of a community can be a part of that community, specifically campus visitors. I know that when I am doing homework in the library and a tour group comes past, I sort of feel like a zoo animal. I know that I am not alone in this feeling either. Would you say that observers need to be accepted by the community as a whole before they are part of it?