By, Mikayla Chen

@winsorgop wants to follow you.

Many students saw this message in their Instagram notifications late February. As more and more people received follow requests from this account, reactions were shared on finstas (“fake instagrams,” which are only followed by close friends). While the content of the account was noteworthy, such as the bio (“Trying to save our country, one post at a time.”), it was the overall concept of the account — a conservative political account supposedly run by a Winsor student — and its anonymity that raised discussion about Winsor’s polarization.

Although some students were surprised, most seemed accepting and understanding of the account’s creation. When Selina L. initially saw the Winsor GOP account, she was untroubled because “we shouldn’t assume that everyone at school has the same political beliefs/opinions.” Going to Winsor can be gratifying because many students can connect with each other and share their similar political views. I personally have enjoyed the “blue bubble” that is Winsor and Massachusetts because I am primarily surrounded by people with like-minded beliefs. However, I also have not been exposed to many other political values and perspectives and thus wonder occasionally how Winsor has influenced my political values. If I did not go to Winsor, would I still have the same opinions that I have now?

Another topic of discussion was the anonymity of the account. Nicole C. said, “As sad as it makes me that this person had to disguise her views beneath the anonymity of social media, I think the account emphasized that in the liberal sea that is Winsor, we must strive to extend ourselves beyond the opinions of ourselves and our peers.” Nicole is right; the anonymity emphasizes the extremity of the polarization of Winsor’s political views. Sometimes, we live under the assumption that all students in our school share the same political values. However, this is not the case, and students with different views in our school do not feel comfortable sharing their opinions because they feel extremely outnumbered. Unfortunately, the anonymity of the account inhibits more productive dialogue, as it largely contradicts the initial intent: proving that there are Winsor students who have conservative views.

The creation of this account has sparked a discussion at Winsor, and Selina even deemed it “a wake-up call to discuss how we can cultivate and nurture a safe space that calls people in not out.” What can we do now that we have recognized that there are members in our community who do not feel safe sharing their opinions? I hope that we will be able to create a more welcoming environment so that people can feel comfortable sharing their opinions.  

While it has been revealed that this account was in fact not created by a Winsor student, it still reminded us that we must always work to cultivate an inclusive environment in which all students can feel comfortable and respected when sharing their opinions.