NYU is widely known for its competitive academics and global networking, but if there is any overarching value on which NYU prides itself most, it would probably boil down to diversity. NYU attracts students from all around the world, creating a student body full of varying religions, ethnicities, sexualities, and so on.
However, there is one area of the diversity department in which NYU seems to be lacking. When it comes down to political standing, it is fairly safe to say that NYU fosters a predominately Democratic community.
While NYU may seem like an endless sky of left-winged birds, the urban legend is actually true: Republicans do go here. In fact, there are probably more Republicans at NYU than most people think. This may be because, in a school where liberalism is more popular than not, it can be difficult to “come out” as a Republican to fellow students. Nevertheless, two NYU students who have come out of the closet as proud Republicans are sophomores Alexa Singh and Jared Arcari.
Alexa, Secretary of the NYU College Republicans, explains, “Conservatism is an umbrella,” a concept that most people inadvertently overlook with regard to both the right and the left. Not every Republican is in the Tea Party, just like not every Democrat is a Socialist. There is a vast range of stances under the “umbrellas” of Liberal and Conservative—there are Reagan Democrats, party Democrats, establishment Republicans, Libertarians, and everything in between.
With Alexa’s “umbrella” notion in mind, it is important to note that the word “Republican” should not suggest anything explicit until specified. She also believes that this idea can extend to a variety of stereotypes. For example, if some guy you haven’t met yet was described a “hipster,” you may have a go-to image in your mind. But that image may not necessarily be the reality. They could shop at Urban Outfitters and grow out his facial. Or, he could wear rimmed glasses and shop at American Apparel; either one could qualify him as a “hipster.”
Although we all try not to judge a book by its cover, it can be hard not to jump to irrational conclusions. For example, Alexa does not want people to assume that her being a Republican means she does not approve of marriage equality. That is could not be further from the truth. She considers each social issue on a case-by-case basis with regard to her own beliefs and experience. In fact, based on her views of certain social matters, one might even think she was a Democrat.
Social and fiscal attitudes tend to get lumped together, but we cannot forget that nowadays, everyone falls along a spectrum. From listening to Alexa and Jared talk about themselves and other Republicans they know at NYU, it is evident that Republicans here are highly diverse. Another commonality would be Republicans at NYU are all very passionate about politics; the Republicans here are simply a more concentrated group of people who have the courage to identify against the larger portion of their 40,000 peers.
People tend to abide by stereotypes just as easily they succumb to following popular trends. Not every student at NYU is interested in politics, nor is every student politically aware. Thus, it is probably easier for these so-called “neutral” students to simply say, “I’m a Democrat, too.” Jared comments on this common phenomenon, questioning what truly yields popular sentiment: “Popular sentiment changes everyday. Popular support for politicians used to consist of attending debates and discussing the political rhetoric in public forums. That doesn’t happen anymore sadly, on either side of the aisle.”
At the end of the day, it comes down to abandoning preconceived notions and keeping an open mind. Jared claims that judging people by their political party is a two-way street: “When I say I am a Republican…people automatically re-conceptualize me as an old white male who doesn’t know what a country needs or wants. Let me fall into the same trap as them and accuse them as the pot-smoking liberals who camped out in Zuccotti Park to oppose the very government they voted for two years prior.”