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Helping campus conservatives battle attempts by college administrators and left-wing student activists to squelch free speech

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Conservative Spotlight: Campus Leadership Program

Helping campus conservatives battle attempts by college administrators and left-wing student activists to squelch free speech

“You come to college, and the message they give you is, ‘Your parents are racist, sexist, bigoted, homophobic, and we’re going to take you and change that.’ A lot of the courses are mushy stuff about sex and gender and social relations. You can’t take a class about a war. We don’t have a military historian at Bucknell. Everything is so dumbed down because no one wants to offend anyone.”

Denise Chaykun of the Bucknell Conservatives Club could have been describing almost any college in the country. Quoted in a May 25, 2003, New York Times MagazineTimes annoyed. One of the off-campus groups helping to nurture the trend is the Leadership Institute’s Campus Leadership Program (CLP).

“We have 40 new groups so far this academic year,” making for a total of 210, said Jim Eltringham, field director for CLP. “The groups do a variety of different things. I think the conservative papers are the most valuable. You have a tangible product that everyone can see and recruits for itself.”

CLP entices conservative-minded students to organize so they can “bring big-name conservative speakers to campus; start independent, conservative campus newspapers; send students to training seminars and conferences throughout the country; win student government elections; get the inside track on internships and employment opportunities; fight the radical left and political correctness; launch political careers.” Said Eltringham, “We provide consultation, people in our office they can call with little problems.” CLP helps students organize, provides them with support and training, and says, “Each campus organization is independent of the Leadership Institute and all other national organizations. Responsibility for the day-to-day operations and program decision-making is left in the hands of the local campus group. Once founded, the local organizations have only a correspondent relationship with the Leadership Institute.”

“You have colleges and universities that are completely overrun with left-wing ideologies,” said Eltringham. “Students are indoctrinated, not educated.” Since the campus left is fanatically dedicated to censorship and thought control, campus conservatives must battle constant attempts by college administrators-as well as left-wing student activists-to squelch free speech. Eltringham said the free speech situation on campus may be degenerating more slowly than in the recent past. “If there’s not a trend back [toward free speech], it’s leveled off a little bit,” he said. Currently, he said, conservative students at Whittier College (Calif.) and the University of Georgia are battling their administrations for the freedom to distribute their publications on campus. CLP does not provide legal help, but “we have a pretty good relationship with FIRE [Foundation for Individual Rights in Education],” he said.

A conservative paper at Eltringham’s alma mater, the University of Massachusetts, called the Minuteman recently ran a story about identity politics-not on campus or at an Al Sharpton rally, where one expects that kind of thing, but at an Amherst, Mass., elementary school. Fort River Elementary uses “racial clustering” to separate students by race into different classrooms. As Olaf Aprans of the Minuteman put it, “The national debate over whether colleges should use race in admissions is now an elementary school issue.”

Officially sanctioned on American campuses now, said Eltringham, are not only racial preferences for admissions but “separate facilities in the name of diversity. The Black Student Union, segregated housing, an office of diversity affairs.”

CLP brings students to the Leadership Institute’s many training programs for conservative youth, such as one for kids interested in running student publications. A two-day seminar features classes with titles such as, “It’s a Long Ball Game: How to Start a Paper, Staff Roles and Recruitment,” “How to Write Successful Investigative Reports,” “Make Your Publication a Permanent Institution on Your Campus,” and “Fundraising II: The Famous Foolproof Fundraising Formula.”

CLP has started currently active groups at schools such as Berkeley, Bucknell, the University of Florida, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Indiana, Oklahoma, Princeton, and Cornell. CLP also helps to bring conservative speakers to campus, an act that tends to enrage the left to no end. “Campus Leadership Program groups have battled the liberals by hosting great conservative minds like Lady Margaret Thatcher, Alan Keyes, David Horowitz, Dinesh D’Souza, Starr Parker, Reginald Jones, and many more,” says the group. “Not only will you be thwarting liberalism, you will get a chance to enjoy face time with the heavy hitters of right-wing politics.”

CLP may be reached at 1101 N. Highland St., Arlington, Va. 22201 (800-827-5323; e-mail: clp@leadershipinstitute.org; website: www.campusleadership.org).

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Written By

Mr. D'Agostino, former associate editor of HUMAN EVENTS, is vice president for Communications at the Population Research Institute.

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