Editorial: Right-leaning SCOTUS prompts worry, reflection

GVL / Dylan McIntyre

GVL / Dylan McIntyre

Lanthorn Editorial Board

West Michigan is, historically, conservative. Ottawa County, specifically, has consistently voted Republican in presidential elections for the past 30 years. As large-scale changes shift political power towards the right, and those changes are reflected in life on campus, members of the Grand Valley State University community who aren’t West Michigan natives, or just don’t align with conservative ideology, may begin to feel out of place.

While the stereotypical narrative is that colleges and universities are intrinsically liberal— something that conservative groups have cited in criticisms of post-secondary education as a whole— the reality is that many schools, GVSU included, are home to thriving, right-leaning groups.

Turning Point, an organization that works to advance conservative ideology, targeting and “exposing” professors that don’t conform with their way of thinking, recently made a somewhat clandestine appearance at the Cook Carillon Tower. Also appearing by the clock tower— GVSU’s designated free speech zone— were Pro-Life advocates who engaged in abrasive protests last month when the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Texas’s radical anti-abortion law. 

That SCOTUS ruling— while frustrating for outside observers, and life-changing for the people of Texas— wasn’t necessarily surprising. The current Supreme Court lineup is largely conservative; six out of the nine justices were appointed by Republican presidents. With this year’s Supreme Court set to address a number of highly controversial, incredibly impactful issues, the justices will be making decisions that shape our short-term and long-term futures, and the political system that students at GVSU are set to inherit. 

There are many members of the GVSU community that are directly harmed by— or, less importantly, simply disagree with— the direction that our federal and state institutions are moving towards, and the direction that West Michigan and Ottawa County are championing. 

Some conservatives, like those from Turning Point, are quick to claim that they face discrimination on the basis of their beliefs. But Republicans, at this moment, possess an incredible amount of political power. The fact that overturning a decision as historic as Roe v. Wade is even a possibility betrays the abundant wealth of control that conservatives have managed to secure. While feigning victimhood, or taking the role of underdog might be an advantageous rhetorical tool, it is baseless, and quite frankly, exhausting.

Election Day is next week, Nov. 2, and one of the best ways to push back against the voices advocating for persecution and marginalization of vulnerable peoples, and the elected officials appointing destructive judges to high-level positions is to make a plan to vote. Those who haven’t already can make use of the resources available from GVSU’s Community Services Learning Center.

However, Election Day is just one day of the year, and filling out a ballot isn’t a cure-all for the stress, anxiety and depression that seismic social and political change– with personal, in-your-face consequences– can induce. GVSU students who would like to talk to someone, pick up some new strategies for their mental health toolkits or just learn more about the services the University Counseling Center offers, can visit their website at gvsu.edu/counsel/.