5 Big Questions for Campus Reform Reporter Ophelie Jacobson
Ophelie Jacobson, a junior at the University of Florida, has created some of Campus Reform’s most viral videos.
She says that conservatives can make a difference by reaching out to students and asking questions about their views.
Ophelie Jacobson, a Campus Reform correspondent who has created several viral “man on the street videos,” sat down to share a behind-the-scenes look at how she approaches journalism as a student.
Jacobson, a junior at the University of Florida, has created viral “man on the street” videos in which she interviews students about their views on current events. Students have told her that they won’t support Team USA in the Olympics and that they think the term “Black Friday” is racist. Some have even said that Panda Express is guilty of cultural appropriation, even though the restaurant chain was started by Chinese immigrants.
She says that the videos on cancel culture have yielded the most surprising answers, but overall, Jacobson says she expects the far-left responses. “I sit next to these students in classrooms every single day, so I kind of anticipate what these students are going to say. And as outrageous as their responses may be, you know, this is the typical mind of a college student that I get to interact with every single day on campus.”
Jacobson has responded to the challenge of campus liberalism by connecting with like-minded peers. She serves as the president of the University of Florida’s Network of Enlightened Women chapter and says she seeks common ground with peers, even when they do not agree on politics. She says, “Being a conservative in college is no easy task and I knew that going in.”
Jacobson credits Campus Reform with launching her media career. She began writing for Campus Reform in January 2020, after learning of the program through a friend. When the pandemic hit and students were sent home from campus, she continued writing at home and realized she wanted to pursue broadcast journalism.
When she returned to campus in the fall of 2020, Jacobson made a “man on the street” video in which she asked students if they agreed with several points of a presidential agenda. She told them it was President Biden’s plan, but later revealed to them that it was actually former President Trump’s. “They all agreed to Biden’s agenda, obviously…and when I told them it was actually Trump’s they were pretty surprised and shocked to find that they actually agreed with something that former President Trump proposed,” she says.
Jacobson sees that real change comes through personal conversations among people who disagree. It is that sort of engagement, she notes, that left-leaning and apolitical students are often missing in their college experiences. “A liberal student can go throughout their four years of college or university without ever being challenged for their political beliefs. For a conservative, that’s a very different story,” she says. “We have our beliefs challenged every single day in the classrooms and the lecture halls.” She sees those challenges as a valuable part of the college experience and encourages open-mindedness among her audience and her peers.
Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @AngelaLMorabito
Follow Ophelie Jacobson on Twitter: @OphelieJacobson