by Tony Listi of the Leadership Institute
Most faculty (at least in the liberal arts/humanities and social sciences) and top administrators are liberal. Their liberal worldview shapes everything they teach and do. And they are tenured or in otherwise entrenched positions. Thus most of the courses, textbooks, handouts, assignments, class lectures, etc. lean to the left. Thus many university policies are written or applied to stifle or eliminate conservative thought. Thus university budgets heavily fund liberal institutions, student groups, programs, and initiatives on campus while their conservative counterparts get little to nothing, if they exist at all. Ultimately, these educational institutions churn out liberal voters and activists who have been indoctrinated with one point of view and have never studied the conservative viewpoint on a variety of issues. And these liberal voters and activists translate into stronger liberal political culture and public policies. Universities are crucial battlegrounds of the political Culture War that greatly influences and sometimes determines electoral and legislative outcomes.
Ultimately, more conservative faculty and administrators need to be hired, tenured, and endowed. More conservative courses, texts, lectures, discussions, etc. must be brought into the classroom. University policies must be changed to allow for freedom of speech and remove speech codes. Funding for liberal causes on campus must be reduced to a level equal with funding received by conservative causes, if not eliminated altogether.
How can this be done? Conservative college students must relentlessly, publicly, and effectively expose and combat liberal bias, abuse, and unfairness through blogging, videos, social media, and traditional media coverage. Activism that reveals and spreads information is very important but not enough though. Campus organizing is necessary for long-term cultural and institutional change. Conservatives must organize or become the campus power-brokers (i.e. donors, trustees, legislators, administrators, and professors). Conservatives must recruit, train, activate, and mentor more young conservative voters, activists, organizers, and leaders to create a coalition of conservative student groups on campus.
The left on campus has tons of student groups (e.g. Students for a Democratic Society, College Democrats, enviro-statist, GLBT, NAACP, LULAC, MeCHA, Planned Parenthood VOX, etc.). Conservatives should have just as many, if not more, to win political battles on campus and beyond. The more groups on any given campus the better, provided each has an effective leader and organizer.
Specialization is key success on campus. Just like politics off-campus, specialized interest groups usually attract and harness supporters with more dedication and enthusiasm. They can also do more regular, ongoing, and effective outreach and activism on their issue area than a general conservative group which must split its time, resources, and energy among many issues. Specialization also brings more people into the movement overall than would otherwise join with only one general conservative group on campus. It also helps diffuse tension among students on the center-right who don’t agree on every issue. This coalition only works when student leaders see the effectiveness of and embrace the necessity of movement politics and coordination. Little, if any, individual group’s self-interest is sacrificed, for the gains more than make up for the investment in teamwork. The coalition also requires leaders to get along with each other and work together even if they don’t agree 100% on all the issues.
A complete coalition of conservative student groups would include: general conservative (e.g. Young Conservatives of Texas, College Republicans), pro-free market (e.g. Students for Prosperity or Young Americans for Liberty), pro-Western Civilization/anti-racialist (e.g. Youth for Western Civilization), pro-life, pro-marriage (e.g. Ruth Youth), free market environmentalism (e.g. Collegians for a Constructive Tomorrow), and pro-2nd amendment (e.g. Students for Concealed Carry). Imagine if your campus had all these groups doing effective organizing and activism to promote their causes and supporting candidates that promote their causes!
The Leadership Institute’s Campus Leadership Program starts, trains, and assists these non-partisan conservative student groups on college campuses. For these non-partisan groups, the Leadership Institute (LI) provides guidance and assistance with recruitment and campus activism (in-person, if staff is available), fundraising letters and solicitation (sharing access to LI donors for top non-partisan groups), and obtaining effective media coverage for campus activism (LI has a complete media list for Texas). Because LI is a 501(c)3, College Republicans chapters cannot join the Campus Leadership Program and take advantage of its personalized guidance and assistance.
However, individual conservative students can receive guidance and assistance in certain situations and are welcome to blog on CampusReform.org and to attend Leadership Institute trainings, which are open to the public. LI offers three formal student trainings: 1) Youth Leadership School, which teaches students how to run a youth campaign for a candidate or cause of their choice; 2) Campus Election Workshop, which teaches students how to win student government elections; and 2) Student Publication Workshop, which teaches students how to start and sustain a campus newspaper.
If you are a conservative student interested in helping to start a non-partisan conservative group or publication at your school or interested in Leadership Institute trainings, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 214-287-7013.