Notes from the Conservative Underground
ISI students are leading the conservative counterculture on campuses around the country. Here are four groups making an impact.
Confronting Liberal Intolerance
Rutgers’s Ratio Christi
A national controversy erupted last spring when a vocal minority at Rutgers University challenged the Board of Governors’ decision to invite former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice to give the 2014 commencement address. When Rutgers’s Debate Union staged a public debate on the matter, it quickly became apparent that most attendees supported the #NoRice campaign. It was left to our ISI-affiliated group, Ratio Christi, to line up during the Q&A time to defend freedom of speech.
Soon after, I appeared on Fox News’s Kelly File to discuss this episode of liberal intolerance and the broader problem of one-sided discourse on college campuses. To my surprise, my reception on campus the next day was overwhelmingly favorable. By the end of the week, dozens of people who had disagreed with our group’s position gave positive feedback. Even though Rice gracefully declined the invitation, the campus culture in general felt that the loudmouth minority had overreacted.
The conservatives on campus were now seen as the voices of reason while the protesters were seen as troublemakers.
—Isaac Woodward ’14
Drawing the Battle Lines
The University of Georgia’s Arch Conservative
At the University of Georgia, the new quarterly journal the Arch Conservative fills the need for an articulate voice to speak out against the shenanigans of the campus Left. That begins with exposing the preposterous policies of the Student Government Association. The Arch Conservative has called student leaders to account for votes in favor of a biased and redundant Women’s Center (the campus has three other centers focused on women), gender-neutral bathrooms, and an increase in mandatory student fees to more than $1,100 per semester—a jump of 247 percent in a decade.
The Arch Conservative picked up national attention when National Review Online ran its cover story about what happened when an anonymous hacker posted profane messages to the Facebook accounts of the Black Affairs Council and LGBT Resource Center. The administration responded swiftly and appropriately—working with law enforcement to launch an investigation, reaching out to the groups that had received the vile messages to condemn the attacks and express support, and contacting those who had been victims of identity theft. But as the Arch Conservative revealed, campus radicals still organized public demonstrations, leading to increasingly groveling responses from the administration and student government.
—Elizabeth Ridgeway ’16
Standing Up for Truth
Columbia University’s Crown & Cross and John Jay Society
It’s been a year of victories and defeats for conservatives at Columbia.
A group of us founded a Love and Fidelity Network–resourced Anscombe Society to challenge the hookup culture. But when we sought recognition as a campus student group, existing campus groups voted us down. Why? Because we believe that sexuality’s fulfillment is found in marriage between one man and one woman.
That defeat only emboldened us to start the Columbia Crown & Cross, a journal of Christian thought. The Crown & Cross has won recognition from Columbia as a student group and been admitted to ISI’s Collegiate Network of student newspapers. In addition, conservatives at Columbia now have a home through which to affect campus culture: the John Jay Society, a newly chartered ISI Society that hosts weekly student debates.
—Luke Foster ’15
In August 2013 some of my classmates and I founded The Statesman to broaden the University of Pennsylvania’s intellectual life by challenging the campus’s monolithic leftist agenda.
In our first year we have been proud to forge a conservative community founded on intellectual inclusivity. Perhaps more important, we have exposed the Penn community to previously ignored viewpoints on issues ranging from immigration reform to gun control to market-driven health care reform to racial-preference policies.
The Statesman is also bringing conservative speakers to campus. Last year we hosted Sam Katz, a former Republican candidate for mayor of Philadelphia, and this year we’re running a series of intimate seminars with scholars like Harvard legend Harvey Mansfield.
Resolute in our values and confident in our mission, we are the vanguard of a conservative resurgence at Penn.
—Aidan McConnell ’16