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Balliol - left wing?

Hi, all. Just curious how true the stereotype is of Balliol being very left-wing. There are a lot of things I like about Balliol and it's one of my top college preferences, but I'm worried I might not fit in or be accepted there.

I'm somewhat of a centrist but definitely lean right-wing, and I take a lot of issue with the current dominant left-wing narrative. On all issues, when I have an opinion, it's because I have thoroughly researched it and can defend it soundly.

Having said that, I've done enough political debating in my lifetime, having lived in many left-wing places, and I don't really want that to be a dominant part of my Oxford experience. I want to enjoy my time with variety of people and not have politics be a centerpiece.

So, should I consider Balliol? Is it moderate enough / open enough to people across the political spectrum? Or would I just be subjecting myself yet again to a highly left-wing environment?
(edited 1 year ago)
Original post by Bromwell
Hi, all. Just curious how true the stereotype is of Balliol being very left-wing. There are a lot of things I like about Balliol and it's one of my top college preferences, but I'm worried I might not fit in or be accepted there.

I'm somewhat of a centrist but definitely lean right-wing, and I take a lot of issue with the current dominant left-wing narrative. On all issues, when I have an opinion, it's because I have thoroughly researched it and can defend it soundly.

Having said that, I've done enough political debating in my lifetime, having lived in many left-wing places, and I don't really want that to be a dominant part of my Oxford experience. I want to enjoy my time with variety of people and not have politics be a centerpiece.

So, should I consider Balliol? Is it moderate enough / open enough to people across the political spectrum? Or would I just be subjecting myself yet again to a highly left-wing environment?


Didn't go to Balliol, but to be honest I think the average Oxford student is intellectually curious but respectful. From my experience, people generally don't hold back when it comes to asking difficult questions so you have to be prepared to explain and defend your views, but they aren't rude or dismissive. If a position is genuinely coherent and has been thought through, people will usually understand the merits (even if they don't agree on balance), but forewarned that you may be in for a grilling at times since Oxford as a whole leans left (I myself got grilled pretty hard on religion at times, but all in good fun and I enjoyed the conversations).

In any event, there's also University level societies and events so overall I wouldn't be too worried since there are plenty of options for socialising if the college scene doesn't float your boat for whatever reason.
Balliol is known as being left-wing... Whether it is any more left-wing than other colleges in reality I do not know. In general, all colleges are left-wing given that students as a whole tend to be more left-leaning.

More to the point, would it matter if the college you go to was full of left-wingers? Friendships can exist across the political spectrum, after all. If you want to meet other right-wing or centrist people within the university, this will not be difficult irrespective of college.
Reply 3
mishieru07
Didn't go to Balliol, but to be honest I think the average Oxford student is intellectually curious but respectful. From my experience, people generally don't hold back when it comes to asking difficult questions so you have to be prepared to explain and defend your views, but they aren't rude or dismissive. If a position is genuinely coherent and has been thought through, people will usually understand the merits (even if they don't agree on balance), but forewarned that you may be in for a grilling at times since Oxford as a whole leans left (I myself got grilled pretty hard on religion at times, but all in good fun and I enjoyed the conversations).


Thank you for your reply. It's good to hear that your experience has been such that Oxford students are willing to engage in respectful discussions rather than being dismissive or rude. That has definitely not been my experience in the left-wing places I've lived in the United States, but it does seem like Oxford (and maybe even England in general?) has a better culture in regards to political discourse. I'm happy to explain my positions on issues, as long as the other person actually wants to hear what I have to say and why, rather than immediately jumping to the conclusion that I'm "racist, homophobic, transphobic, insert label here" (always ironic since I'm actually bi and trans myself, yet I don't agree with much of the dominant LGBT left-wing narrative in the States).

liverninthered
More to the point, would it matter if the college you go to was full of left-wingers? Friendships can exist across the political spectrum, after all. If you want to meet other right-wing or centrist people within the university, this will not be difficult irrespective of college.


If someone posted "Is this college LGBT friendly? I want to go to a college where there will be plenty of LGBT people", would you question that desire and say "Would it matter? Friendships can exist across the sexual orientation spectrum, after all."

I think it's perfectly natural for people to want to go to a college where there will be a decent amount of other people like them, where they feel like they'll fit in.

I've lived in many left-wing places where I felt like my opinions were not respected, and this definitely affected my friendships and relationships with people. There were unfortunately lots of people I had been friends with (or thought I was friends with) that, upon finding out I'm right-wing, ostracized me from the group. I'd like to avoid that kind of environment as much as possible at Oxford.

I know that Oxford, on the whole, leans left, but surely there is a reason why certain colleges (like Wadham and Balliol) are considered especially left-wing. I just wanted to know how true the stereotype is. I've basically narrowed down my college preference to Jesus or Balliol, so if Balliol is really as left-wing as people say, that could be a factor to tip the scale toward Jesus (which, from what I've read, seems more diverse politically.)
(edited 1 year ago)
Original post by Bromwell
Thank you for your reply. It's good to hear that your experience has been such that Oxford students are willing to engage in respectful discussions rather than being dismissive or rude. That has definitely not been my experience in the left-wing places I've lived in the United States, but it does seem like Oxford (and maybe even England in general?) has a better culture in regards to political discourse. I'm happy to explain my positions on issues, as long as the other person actually wants to hear what I have to say and why, rather than immediately jumping to the conclusion that I'm "racist, homophobic, transphobic, insert label here" (always ironic since I'm actually bi and trans myself, yet I don't agree with much of the dominant LGBT left-wing narrative in the States).



If someone posted "Is this college LGBT friendly? I want to go to a college where there will be plenty of LGBT people", would you question that desire and say "Would it matter? Friendships can exist across the sexual orientation spectrum, after all."

I think it's perfectly natural for people to want to go to a college where there will be a decent amount of other people like them, where they feel like they'll fit in.

I've lived in many left-wing places where I felt like my opinions were not respected, and this definitely affected my friendships and relationships with people. There were unfortunately lots of people I had been friends with (or thought I was friends with) that, upon finding out I'm right-wing, ostracized me from the group. I'd like to avoid that kind of environment as much as possible at Oxford.

I know that Oxford, on the whole, leans left, but surely there is a reason why certain colleges (like Wadham and Balliol) are considered especially left-wing. I just wanted to know how true the stereotype is. I've basically narrowed down my college preference to Jesus or Balliol, so if Balliol is really as left-wing as people say, that could be a factor to tip the scale toward Jesus (which, from what I've read, seems more diverse politically.)


I tend to find that a lot of Oxford stereotypes come from major broadsheet newspapers (The Times, Guardian, Telegraph etc.) that aren't particularly reflective (or fair) of British universities as a whole- one thing you will learn if you come to the United Kingdom is that the class system is incredibly entrenched into our society, and the "class-war" is waged primarily through education. It's a middle-class obsession, and the stories of Oxford colleges "cancelling" historical figures or removing portraits of the monarch from common areas often make the headlines (Wadham tends to be the usual victim of the unforgiving lousy press) and as such specific colleges develop a reputation for being "woke" (when I very much doubt they're more "woke" than any other college, to be quite fair)

Pretty sure that Wadham is known to be the first college to fly the pride flag and has enacted quite a few progressive measures, all of which are voted through by the students, mind.

Honestly, though, I have the impression that if you are capable of having an educated and civil discourse, your political views will be acknowledged and respected, and they will be critiqued, of course. Another thing worth mentioning is that 40% of Oxford students don't end up at their first-choice college, so if the college really is a deal-breaker for you, keep that in consideration.
Original post by Bromwell
Thank you for your reply. It's good to hear that your experience has been such that Oxford students are willing to engage in respectful discussions rather than being dismissive or rude. That has definitely not been my experience in the left-wing places I've lived in the United States, but it does seem like Oxford (and maybe even England in general?) has a better culture in regards to political discourse. I'm happy to explain my positions on issues, as long as the other person actually wants to hear what I have to say and why, rather than immediately jumping to the conclusion that I'm "racist, homophobic, transphobic, insert label here" (always ironic since I'm actually bi and trans myself, yet I don't agree with much of the dominant LGBT left-wing narrative in the States).


Never lived in the U.S., but the vibe I'm getting is that the U.S. as a whole is becoming increasingly partisan, which is making it hard to build cross-aisle consensus. I'm sorry that you had a bad experience.

I definitely do think it's true that people at Oxford tend to be quite intellectual and will often engage in discussions, but you can probably expect to get questioned and pushed hard. Bear in mind that UK politics also differs quite a bit from the U.S., so depending on what your views are and who you're talking to, you might get more pushback on certain topics (e.g. if you advocate for Ohio style anti-abortion laws, you need to be prepared to really defend why you think it is acceptable because abortion has been legal in the UK for years and is generally not seen as controversial).
Honestly, I personally wouldn't say Balliol is an especially left-wing college - I think it's a bit of an outdated stereotype. There are right-wing people at every college, except maybe Wadham lol.

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