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Students in red states face false judgments about their political beliefs

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Coming from Texas to Syracuse University, Madison Lamont, a sophomore in forensic science and psychology, faced a new challenge: being judged by her background.

“When I first came here it was during an election,” Lamont said. “They were automatically saying, ‘You have to like Trump,’ which wasn’t even the case.”

Lamont said coming into SU from a red state during the presidential election and a highly politicized pandemic has led to a lot of judgment, especially with people constantly asking for his political views.

“It seemed obvious to people that I would vote for Trump,” Lamont said. “I hadn’t even decided who I would vote for yet. I don’t identify with Democrats or Republicans… I was just trying to decide for myself, but people kind of assumed who I was voting for.



Other students from red states, or states with a Republican majority, have faced similar comments from other students, especially in the 2020 election. Lamont felt it was mostly the election of 2020 that had started these conversations with people. Political assumptions aside, Lamont said, being from Texas didn’t matter much to people.

Ainsley Holman, a senior journalism and history student also from Texas, said she also felt judged especially around the 2020 election.

“In 2020, right before the election, people were very candid with me and asked, ‘Did you vote for Trump,’ or (they) assumed I did,” Holman said. “My friends from more liberal states were rarely asked who they voted for, and it never really crossed their minds.”

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Holman said that since SU is a predominantly liberal campus, saying she’s from the South automatically makes people think she’s conservative. Holman said he gets asked for his views on certain issues quite often.

“My friends from (Massachusetts) or wherever don’t get asked everyday if they’re pro-life or pro-choice, when I get asked all the time,” Holman said.

Last week, the Holman hairstylist asked for her stance on the Texas abortion law that passed, she said. Holman said those questions that are normally private matters are now being asked very directly.

Freshman Dylan Welch said he felt a negative connotation came from saying he was from Oklahoma, a state that Trump Won in 2020.

“Every time I say I’m from Oklahoma, I feel compelled to state my political views or say I’m not a redneck or a hillbilly,” Welch said. “There is a negative connotation. People hear where I’m from and there’s a natural judgment you receive when you say you’re from the South.

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Holman, however, felt that coming to the League helped her gain confidence in her political views, even allowing her to be more politically active.

“The friends I met from Massachusetts were very comfortable with their views, but I never felt comfortable with my views until I came here,” Holman said. “I’m more motivated to get more involved in politics.”

Welch experienced a similar phenomenon where he was able to find more like-minded people and a more diverse group of friends.

“My high school class had 100 people. I finally found a good group with similar beliefs there,” Welch said. “It was definitely easier to come here. There’s a lot more diversity and viewpoints here that match mine.

Lamont said she felt coming to SU allowed her to solidify her political views and form her own opinions.

“I don’t have people telling me how I feel or giving me information because now I’m exposed to both sides,” Lamont said. “I learned to trust my opinions and to be able to talk to people even if our opinions differ. I feel like now I can have open conversations, learn from people and even have them learn from me.

Contact Caroline: [email protected]