Does having different political beliefs hinder making friends at uni?

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Anonymous #1
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I've done a couple of years at Strathclyde now and whilst I like the course & uni, I feel like I'm incompatible politically with basically everyone there which is frustrating. I don't want to slam people for their views which they're entitled to but they're all hardcore left wing SNP/Green supporters, two parties which I just cannot stand and would never support. I'm more right leaning (not crazy though), a bit more libertarian in beliefs so feel like a bit of an outsider with my beliefs.

This wouldn't necessarily always be an issue, I always say that diversity of friends is good but for me, I study politics so our views are more prominent than others.

Are my politics hindering me? Any way to fix this?
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BashfulStudent22
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(Original post by Anonymous)
I've done a couple of years at Strathclyde now and whilst I like the course & uni, I feel like I'm incompatible politically with basically everyone there which is frustrating. I don't want to slam people for their views which they're entitled to but they're all hardcore left wing SNP/Green supporters, two parties which I just cannot stand and would never support. I'm more right leaning (not crazy though), a bit more libertarian in beliefs so feel like a bit of an outsider with my beliefs.

This wouldn't necessarily always be an issue, I always say that diversity of friends is good but for me, I study politics so our views are more prominent than others.

Are my politics hindering me? Any way to fix this?
Hey!

I totally understand where your coming from. My friendship group leaned one way politically, which can feel lonely at times, especially if your not able to discuss your view without being shouted down. However, over time, the friendship group grew and the balance between right and left wing views balanced.

Here's some advice I learnt over time:

1. Research/Listen to their view- You may not agree with them, but it's good to research/listen to their view and understand where they're coming from. It shows the other person that you respect their opinion by taking the time to learn about their political view (you may find you even agree with a few of their points!). It also comes in handy when discussing an issue/topic as it shows you've made your judgement and are able to debate looking at both sides.

2. Join Society- If your feeling a bit left out, I would recommend joining your political party society at uni so you can build up some friendships with people who have the same view as you. This doesn't mean you can't be friends with people with other views, it just lets you level out the field a bit, where you might feel a bit safer to share your view

3. Fair Debate & Respect- If debating happens a lot in your friendship group, make sure beforehand everyone understands that the debate is about learning more about each view and not about belittling peoples beliefs. This means giving each person the opportunity to propose their view fairly without being shouted down or being called names.

4. Don't change your political beliefs just cause their different to most in your class! It is important to remember that everyone will have different views, even people in the same political party. Make sure that you understand your view so that if you are questioned, you can come back with the appropriate response. You may not have the perfect defence for every issue/topic, which is normal! At those times, be humble and let them know you are still deciding/learning where you stand on that issue. You will gain more respect that way, than coming in with a hard view with not much knowledge to back it up.

I hope this helps!

Bashful
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Anonymous #1
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(Original post by BashfulStudent22)
Hey!

I totally understand where your coming from. My friendship group leaned one way politically, which can feel lonely at times, especially if your not able to discuss your view without being shouted down. However, over time, the friendship group grew and the balance between right and left wing views balanced.

Here's some advice I learnt over time:

1. Research/Listen to their view- You may not agree with them, but it's good to research/listen to their view and understand where they're coming from. It shows the other person that you respect their opinion by taking the time to learn about their political view (you may find you even agree with a few of their points!). It also comes in handy when discussing an issue/topic as it shows you've made your judgement and are able to debate looking at both sides.

2. Join Society- If your feeling a bit left out, I would recommend joining your political party society at uni so you can build up some friendships with people who have the same view as you. This doesn't mean you can't be friends with people with other views, it just lets you level out the field a bit, where you might feel a bit safer to share your view

3. Fair Debate & Respect- If debating happens a lot in your friendship group, make sure beforehand everyone understands that the debate is about learning more about each view and not about belittling peoples beliefs. This means giving each person the opportunity to propose their view fairly without being shouted down or being called names.

4. Don't change your political beliefs just cause their different to most in your class! It is important to remember that everyone will have different views, even people in the same political party. Make sure that you understand your view so that if you are questioned, you can come back with the appropriate response. You may not have the perfect defence for every issue/topic, which is normal! At those times, be humble and let them know you are still deciding/learning where you stand on that issue. You will gain more respect that way, than coming in with a hard view with not much knowledge to back it up.

I hope this helps!

Bashful
Thanks! Really appreciate your post, will take this advice.

With regards to Point 2, all political style societies at my uni (Strathclyde) are left wing - Labour, Greens, SNP then activist groups such as Vegans & Feminists. Good for them but not my cup of tea. I wonder why there is nothing more centrist/centre-right.
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Anonymous #2
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If I'm being honest, I think so. That being said, as long as you're not super outspoken about your views (kind of unfair in itself as there are some views that people can just throw out there and can never be stamped out for), then you will be fine. I wouldn't say it's a strictly Uni thing, as much as it is a general life thing. Even in secondary school, there were a couple of girls who had "different" views to the vast majority of the student body, and they were unfortunately shunned quite a bit.

Even then, are politics really THAT important to you? I would say that my political views are quite different to those of the people around me; I even disagree with my closest friends on most topics. But because I don't care all that much about it in the first place, it hasn't hindered me.

At my Uni, there is a Conservative society, Liberal society, the whole lot. It was quite funny watching them eyeball one another from across the hallway during the freshers fair lol.
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BashfulStudent22
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(Original post by Anonymous)
Thanks! Really appreciate your post, will take this advice.

With regards to Point 2, all political style societies at my uni (Strathclyde) are left wing - Labour, Greens, SNP then activist groups such as Vegans & Feminists. Good for them but not my cup of tea. I wonder why there is nothing more centrist/centre-right.
Glad to help!

Wow that's so strange, you would have thought there'd be a society for centre/centre-right! You could email your student union about it... other people who want this type of society may have also contacted them. You never know, you might end up leading the centre/centre-right student society!
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Anonymous #1
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(Original post by Anonymous)
If I'm being honest, I think so. That being said, as long as you're not super outspoken about your views (kind of unfair in itself as there are some views that people can just throw out there and can never be stamped out for), then you will be fine. I wouldn't say it's a strictly Uni thing, as much as it is a general life thing. Even in secondary school, there were a couple of girls who had "different" views to the vast majority of the student body, and they were unfortunately shunned quite a bit.

Even then, are politics really THAT important to you? I would say that my political views are quite different to those of the people around me; I even disagree with my closest friends on most topics. But because I don't care all that much about it in the first place, it hasn't hindered me.
I think for me it's amplified by being a politics student because it means that our views are needed more and we're more outspoken about them than in a science/maths type of subject for example.

It's not just political views - you'd be hard pressed to find someone who agrees with you on everything. I'd say what really makes or breaks it is values, if you value completely different things and have totally different views of people/the world then you're on a hiding to nothing.

Shame for those folks at your school who were shunned for their beliefs - unless they were outright bigots, it sounds a bit unfair.
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Anonymous #2
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(Original post by Anonymous)
I think for me it's amplified by being a politics student because it means that our views are needed more and we're more outspoken about them than in a science/maths type of subject for example.

It's not just political views - you'd be hard pressed to find someone who agrees with you on everything. I'd say what really makes or breaks it is values, if you value completely different things and have totally different views of people/the world then you're on a hiding to nothing.

Shame for those folks at your school who were shunned for their beliefs - unless they were outright bigots, it sounds a bit unfair.
Ah, I somehow missed in your original question that you were a politics student! That must be quite difficult. One of my closest friends from secondary school (one of the girls who was shunned for her views) went on to do politics at Uni as well, I wonder how she's doing considering how some people treated her back then.

Surely on your course, there must be someone who shares the same values are you? Are people generally quite hostile?
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chazwomaq
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Why do you care what your friends' politics are? I don't think I knew more than maybe two of my friends' political views at university. It's just not relevant to day to day life. Or are they actually doing things that irk you?
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Ram Ranch
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The problem with students is that they are up to their eyeballs in cheap credit, grants and easy booze, so naturally there tends to be be a pattern of beliefs which emphasises fiscal irresponsibility and short term pleasures. Thankfully most of them will sharpen up their act by the time that the gravy train is cut off, i.e. they are working, paying taxes and starting families.

In the mean time, it would be prudent to network fellow thinkers to create a space where conservatives are able to feel safe
Last edited by Ram Ranch; 4 weeks ago
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