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  • Writer's pictureSam Wilks

Conservative Students in the Top End

In the contemporary academic landscape, increasingly characterised by its liberal leanings, conservative students in the Top End find themselves navigating a complex environment that feels less than welcoming to their perspectives. This reality, while not unique to any one geographic location, in a place where the intersection of indigenous cultures, remote education, and global academic influences creates a unique academic milieu.


A subtle dynamic is present in the experience of conservative students on Territory campuses. Students whose opinions differ from the dominant ideological norms occasionally perceive that the academic institutions' cherished principles of free speech, open discussion, and idea exchange are at odds with their lived realities. This tension, while a potential source of conflict, also offers a rich ground for the cultivation of critical thinking, resilience, and effective communication.

As a trainer I have ample experience with these students, predominantly foreign born who are attending university as a stepping stone into Australian residency and then citizenship, the reality born from necessity that they come from countries in Asia with predominantly conservative ideals and economic doctrines, face immediate cognitive bias in Australian universities that do not cherish the very values they sought this country out for.


There are several ways we can create open discourse including begin conversations by identifying areas of agreement before delving into contentious issues. This approach, rooted in the psychological understanding of dialogue and conflict resolution, helps to establish mutual respect and openness. Embrace the complexity of issues and acknowledge the limits of one's own knowledge. This stance fosters a learning environment characterised by curiosity rather than confrontation. Before articulating your viewpoints, make a concerted effort to understand the perspectives of others. Seek out clubs, organisations, or informal groups that share your perspectives or are dedicated to fostering open dialogue across ideological divides. This network provides a sense of community and support, as well as opportunities for refining your arguments and perspectives.


Other ways on campus would also include advocating for policies and practices that protect free speech and academic freedom for all students, regardless of their political or ideological leanings. Look for resources such as debate clubs, guest lecture series, and workshops on effective communication and critical thinking. These resources can provide valuable opportunities to engage with diverse ideas and develop your rhetorical skills. 

When engaging with professors and peers who hold differing views, it's essential to present your arguments in a reasoned and evidence-based manner, avoiding personal attacks or inflammatory language. Approach discussions with the goal of understanding different viewpoints and the reasoning behind them, even as you present your own. Recognise that disagreement is a healthy and integral part of academic life and that respect for others' rights to hold different views is foundational to the academic enterprise.

Universities play a crucial role in facilitating an environment where diverse viewpoints can be expressed freely and explored critically. By fostering a culture of respect, encouraging open dialogue, and protecting academic freedom, institutions can ensure that all students, regardless of their ideological leanings, have the opportunity to thrive.

For conservative students on Australian campuses, the academic journey is not without its challenges. However, by employing strategies that emphasise mutual respect, open dialogue, and intellectual humility, students can navigate these environments effectively. In doing so, they contribute to the vibrancy of academic discourse, enriching the educational experience for themselves and their peers. The goal is not merely to survive but to thrive, leveraging the diversity of thought as a springboard for personal growth, academic excellence, and a deeper understanding of the complex world in which we live.


 From the author.

 The opinions and statements are those of Sam Wilks and do not necessarily represent whom Sam Consults or contracts to. Sam Wilks is a skilled and experienced Security Consultant with almost 3 decades of expertise in the fields of Real estate, Security, and the hospitality/gaming industry. His knowledge and practical experience have made him a valuable asset to many organizations looking to enhance their security measures and provide a safe and secure environment for their clients and staff.

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