Notes from the Conservative Underground
It’s not easy to be a conservative surrounded by liberals. But ISI students across the country are fighting back against liberal orthodoxy on campus and getting a leg up professionally. Here are four examples.
The Importance of Real Diversity
Yale’s William F. Buckley Jr. Program
The mission of Yale’s Buckley Program is to promote intellectual diversity on campus. That doesn’t sit well with the forces of political correctness, but we have persevered.
This past September our group invited Ayaan Hirsi Ali to speak at Yale. Despite her staunch advocacy for women’s rights, Hirsi Ali came under fire from campus groups such as the Muslim Students Association (MSA), the Women’s Center, and the Yale Atheists, Humanists, and Agnostics. Hirsi Ali’s offense? She has been a vocal critic of radical Islam. Never mind that she suffered from genital mutilation as a child, that Muslim fundamentalists murdered her colleague Theo van Gogh, or that she lives under a fatwa.
The MSA first privately asked us to disinvite the speaker. When we refused, the MSA sent an open letter to every Yale e-mail address, denouncing our organization for inviting such a hateful speaker and requesting either that we invite a second speaker to counter—or correct—Hirsi Ali’s views or that we keep our guest from speaking on Islam entirely. Again we refused.
Our opponents’ intimidation tactics did not prevail. Hirsi Ali’s lecture drew a full house of more than three hundred attendees; in fact, we had to turn away more than a hundred people. There were no protests, and Hirsi Ali received three standing ovations. We stuck to our guns, and in doing so, we furthered the cause of intellectual diversity.
—Rich Lizardo ’15
Confronting liberal bias
The University of Minnesota’s Minnesota Republic
I was a sophomore when I joined the Minnesota Republic, a monthly conservative magazine that is part of ISI’s Collegiate Network. It was hard to find new writers, and many students had no idea the magazine existed.
I knew something had to change. Instead of writing our typical content about federal and state politics, we started reporting about liberal bias here on campus, including double standards on free speech and abuses by the university administration and student government. Soon I had to turn writers away, and other groups were requesting copies for their members.
Being the editor of a conservative magazine on a liberal campus can be frustrating. It is not uncommon to find copies of the latest issue in the garbage and the newsstands vandalized. But the positive impact each issue can have is always worth it.
—Allison Maass ’15
Hope for Young Conservatives
The King’s College’s Empire State Tribune
I attend a small Christian liberal arts college in Manhattan, and before my freshman year I had a professional network of zero. But in college I have spent two semesters interning at The Blaze, Glenn Beck’s online media outlet, and this past summer I interned at Fox 29 in Philadelphia. How did it happen, and more important, how can it happen for you?
I owe much of my success to the friends and mentors I have met through ISI. The ISI Collegiate Network Editors Conference helped me grow as a writer and a leader, and my professional network expands with every ISI event I attend. By simply saying “yes” to the many opportunities ISI has presented, I have experienced success as a young conservative in a field notorious for its liberal bias.
I am overwhelmed by the opportunities ISI makes available to undergrads—from essay contests to fully funded internships. There has never been a better time to be a young conservative.
—Carly Hoilman ’16
Building from the Ground Up
The ISI Society in Houston
Have you ever wanted to start a reading group at school? Here’s how you can build one from the ground up.
Last year, having attended ISI conferences, a classmate and I decided to start a reading group at our school, the University of St. Thomas in Houston. We figured it would not be too hard to attract students at a school with a good liberal arts core. Wrong! Although we came up with good discussion topics, secured a faculty sponsor, distributed flyers, and created a Facebook page, half of our meetings were empty.
Enter ISI. While attending an ISI leadership conference last summer, I met a student from the University of Houston. We decided to join forces, and soon we added members from Rice University and Houston Baptist University. So our group now provides an outlet for thoughtful university students from across the fourth-largest city in America. Even better, ISI accepted our application to become an official ISI Society. We now receive funding for speakers and events, along with mentoring, logistical support, and free books.
To start an ISI Society, you need grit. You will need to recruit members, raise money, develop a business plan as you apply for an ISI grant, and sometimes be unfriended by classmates (oh no!) because you are now the person who sends out tons of Facebook events for your meetings. But you cannot let any of this stop you. Your campus needs you.
—Alyssa Barnes ’16