While stories of illiberal professors and higher education hijinks are becoming more visible in the national media, conservative students want to do more than expose them.
Dominic Rupprecht, a sophomore at Bucknell University, can reel off a litany of free speech violations and political double-standards at the Pennsylvania school. But, the self-described “libertarianish” Republican is making some headway in the hostile environment.
“I could go on and on with leftist-dominated administrative offices,” he said. At Bucknell, the most egregious example of this leftist domination is the “vehemently pro-abortion” Women’s Resource Center, according to Rupprecht. The center often politicks for the pro-abortion cause. It has sent students to a pro-abortion rally on the school’s tab, a move that Rupprecht described as “most abhorrent.” Recently, however, Bucknell has hosted conservative Pat Toomey to speak on abortion.
Toomey’s appearance on campus came shortly after he was prohibited from speaking at the university. The administration claimed that it prohibited candidates for political office from speaking on campus. At the time, Toomey was seeking to unseat incumbent senator Arlen Specter in the Republican primary. Bucknell’s justification quickly unraveled. The school had hosted a presidential candidate, Ralph Nader, who delivered the commencement address in 2000.
Amanda Carpenter, a student at Ball State University, took on her campus single-handedly. After attending a program at the Leadership Institute, she arrived at Ball State, and “I was able to relate problems to a local level in a way students could understand,” she said.
Carpenter started a website, www.bsyou.net, which scrutinized many of the university’s programs. One, Freshman Connections, cost $85,000 and featured the liberal fast food foe Eric Schlosser. In another incident Carpenter made a wanted poster of an environmentalist professor who had been arrested for trespassing. He and Carpenter met to discuss the matter, but the conversation deteriorated. Carpenter captured the raving professor on tape and put the audio on her website.
Jason Mattera, a student at Roger Williams University, has aggressively confronted campus liberalism. “Once you enter college you have placed yourself in an environment where a war is going on,” he said.
The Brooklyn firebrand, who was named best state College Republican National Committee chairman in 2003, has taken his fight against political correctness to controversial extremes. In 2004, the Roger Williams College Republicans came under fire for offering a scholarship available only to whites. The scholarship intended to parody other scholarships that target minorities. Mattera, who was College Republican president at the time, received a letter of condemnation from RNC chairman Ed Gillespie.
He protested the university’s lack of diversity in bringing speakers to campus when Judy Shepard, mother of Matthew Shepard, “gave an anti-Christian speech” to students. Shepard is a Wyoming man whose 1998 murder has become a cause célèbre among gay rights advocates. “The university was being intolerant to our conservative Christian beliefs,” he said. His efforts succeeded in bringing a conservative to campus.
Mattera is unapologetic about the tactics he uses. He has an “activist mentality” and wants to “be an edifice that stands up and defends conservatism.” He describes the situation on college campuses as a “political war.”
“You’re not looking to tie,” he said. “You’re looking to win.”
Mattera, Carpenter, and Rupprecht addressed the Conservative Political Action Conference on Saturday, February 19. CPAC is an annual conference for conservative organizations and grassroots conservative activists.
Larry Scholer is a staff writer at Accuracy in Academia.