Words by Dustin Graziano
Raisa Shurat is a psychology student at CCNY who is part of a small group of people that are trying to get a Trump supporters’ club started here at CCNY. The “MAGA,” or Make America Great Again, Club has not yet been established, partially due to the trouble these students have had with finding a sponsor on campus. However, Raisa and the others, led by student Ian Brinkley who did not wish to comment on the matter, have been carrying out political experiments to try and raise awareness of what Raisa refers to as “closeted conservatives.”
“We decided to make a poster that says ‘CCNY Conservative Club holds a pro-Trump rally,’ and then we posted it all over the school. Within an hour, all of our posters were torn down. We found them ripped up and in the trash,” said Raisa. She also claimed that when they caught someone taking down the posters and asked the person why they were doing so, the individual replied, “because I’m scared of having a Nazi club on campus.”
Raisa and the others did not stop there. For another experiment, the team wanted to have someone stand outside of the Architecture building while holding a Bernie Sander’s sign and shouting pro-Bernie statements, and then on a different day, they wanted someone rooting for President Trump so that they could compare the reactions they received from students on campus. Raisa volunteered to be that someone as she claimed that the other students were hesitant due to a fear of social outcasting.
“When I was holding the Bernie sign, everyone that passed by was very friendly and smiling,” said Raisa. There were only a few students that passed by on that day, however, during the second part of the experiment there was a fire drill and hundreds of students were outside to witness Raisa as a Trump supporter. Raisa continued, “I stood outside with a Trump hat and a sign that said ‘white supremacy is a myth…’ So many students started harassing me. Recording me on their phones, calling me names, saying that I’m a disgrace to my people… One girl threatened to beat me up and had to have her friend stop her… When it was done, I had to go upstairs to file a complaint to the Public Safety office because a man kept following me around and harassing me.”
“I don’t think it’s right that people in college are afraid to voice their opinions… Trump supporters here are afraid to speak out because they immediately get stereotyped as a racist or a bigot… How are you going to get an actual conversation started that way? People should argue with logic and understanding, not with emotion,” said Raisa.
Looking forward, Raisa claimed that she and the other students behind these experiments will be trying to get the MAGA Club registered as an official CCNY club. All they need is a club sponsor. Political Science Professor Richard Bernstein was previously asked to sponsor the club, but he declined; mostly due to his already busy workload, but partly due to his own beliefs. When asked about his thoughts on the experiments, Professor Bernstein said, “I think there’s a difference between protesting and provoking… People can be free to express their opinions, but are they hurting others while doing so? You need to know your audience… I mean, what are you really trying to prove with experiments like these?”
“I encourage more conservative students to speak out on campus. Even if people are threatening you, harassing you, or stereotyping you, it’s your right to have an opinion… I also encourage people to calm the hell down when they are hearing an opinion they don’t agree with. Just have a conversation,” said Raisa in her call to closeted conservatives, and to anyone who might be trying to express their thoughts and feelings on campus as well.
The reason for these social experiments is because Raisa and the other students working together with Ian feel that there is a problem with conservative students not being able to voice their opinions in class and on campus. Raisa claimed that she isn’t even a Trump supporter, but that she was mainly inspired to participate because she saw a student get shot down and “booed” in one of her class’s for mentioning his political thoughts on the wage gap between men and women of the United States.