Don’t discount colleges because of their state’s political leaning

Sonali Muthukrishnan, Columnist

As a Californian out-of-state student, I almost didn’t apply to UT. I was anxious about living on my own for the first time, adjusting to a new city and the college workload. Most of all, however, I was worried about the political climate in Texas. Now, I don’t regret my choice to go to a school in a Republican state. 

When I applied to schools, my biggest concern was finding a university that fit me and made me feel comfortable. While Texas’ Republican identity originally made me wary of UT, I found that this diversity of thought has instead expanded my perspective. My time at UT has helped me better understand others perspectives, especially those of people I disagree with.

I encourage students to take the opportunity and pursue a school that best fits their educational goals, despite anxieties surrounding a state’s political affiliation. Your experience at a school in a state with a different political identity will expand your perspective in invaluable ways.

Finance and economics sophomore Asritha Katakam comes from New Jersey, a liberal area. Before first applying to Texas, Katakam considered Austin’s political situation. 

“I wasn’t really entering a space where the whole town was right-leaning … I feel comfortable getting educated in this space,” Katakam said. “There are conservative groups that are on Speedway, but I don’t feel like they are ever imposing on my life.”

As a woman of color, I was initially concerned about facing racism in a southern political climate, but I feel safe on UT’s diverse campus. It is completely valid to decline to go to a school that makes you feel unsafe due to its political climate.

The most important thing about college is finding a place you can call home. Finding your community and maintaining your safety is incredibly valuable and should be prioritized in your college decision. 

Journalism freshman Becca Youngers is an Iowa out-of-state student and a registered Democrat. She reflected on her struggle with adjusting to a new political climate.

“To me, because I’m from Iowa, I was like, (the political environment is) not that different … I would honestly say, with more recent things that have come up with politics such as the overturning of Roe v. Wade, obviously, (but) I was honestly more relaxed (before that),” Youngers said.

Transitioning to a new political environment is an uncomfortable process. While a new political climate may initially bring discomfort, students should not shy away from the opportunity to widen their point of view. Growth happens when you are uncomfortable, and college is a safe space in which you can explore other perspectives. 

There is more to college than the state’s politics. College is an opportunity to grow and challenge your perspective. Diversity in political thought does not always need to be a deal breaker. 

“I feel like in order for me to be educated on the issues that are facing the other side of the country … I needed to come to Texas for that because I wouldn’t have learned that much if I were still going to school in the Northeast,” Katakam said. “You’ve got to learn both sides.”

Muthukrishnan is a government freshman from Los Gatos, California.