There’s an on-going fight for the minds of college students in southern California, and cash is the weapon of choice. The battlefield is situated on the campus of Cal State San Marcos, and three sides are vying for position: a man trying to honor his fallen mother, a number of politically charged students and a ten pound gorilla – better known as Michael Moore.
Moore, recently, awarded six students $2,500 each after they applied for his first annual “Freedom of Speech Scholarship at Cal State San Marcos.” According to Moore’s website, the scholarship rewarded students who “have stood up to their administration and fought for students’ rights.” In essence, Moore was upset his invitation to speak at Cal State San Marcos last fall was delayed by President Karen Haynes who said the school was prohibited from using state funds for partisan political activity during the election season.
So, Moore created a scholarship for students at Cal State San Marcos who think, talk and walk just like him. Fortunately, the scholarship didn’t require students to look like him nor was there a weight requirement. Moore said he hopes his award inspires students to “fight for what they believe in, and raise some hell when there’s hell to be raised.” He’s so poetic, isn’t he?
Meanwhile, a staff member for California State Sen. Bill Morrow (R-Oceanside) is waging a conservative campaign on the school’s campus. Aaron Byzak is tired of Michael Moore and the liberalism he believes permeates Cal State San Marcos. Byzak is establishing a scholarship solely for conservative students at the Southern California school as a tribute to his late mother in hopes that her life will serve as an inspiration to young men and women.
After years as an alcoholic, drug addict and welfare recipient, Byzak’s mother sobered-up, left the welfare system, got a job, secured a modest home and began adopting conservative principles. Byzak says, “She knew first-hand the motivations of the people she ran with in Berkeley in the late 1960’s. She. . . realized that the organizations those people were involved with were anti-American and generally funded by Communists and Communist sympathizers.”
Unfortunately, Byzak’s mother died on her son’s wedding day at the age of 55 after a seven year battle with cancer. Now, Byzak believes the best way to honor his mother is to establish a scholarship in her name that will reward students at a local, liberal school who practice and believe in the same conservative ideas that changed his mother’s life. “My mom would want to help those who are less fortunate. And I can’t think of anything less fortunate than being a conservative in a public university.”
Conservative students at Cal State San Marcos such as Ashley Stuart—a senior and chairwoman of the College Republicans – are happy to hear about Byzak’s scholarship. Stuart says, “Conservatives are in fact a minority on…campus.” Despite her right-wing beliefs, Stuart applied for Michael Moore’s scholarship since she met all of the necessary requirements—fighting for students’ rights and standing up to the administration. Stuart says she put pressure on the school last fall, criticizing Moore’s speaking engagement and organizing a 250 person rally outside the venue where he was later scheduled to speak after private donors footed the bill. The communications major says, “No one said Republicans couldn’t apply for Moore’s scholarship, but the results made it quite clear that the scholarship winners were rigged.”
Stuart may be right. The six recipients of Moore’s scholarship are full-blown liberals. According to Moore’s own website, two of the winners are affiliated with the Progressive Activist Network (PAN)—one was even the president of the organization on campus and a two-time winner of its “Member of the Year” award. Five of the six winners are pursuing degrees in Women’s Studies—otherwise known as “feminism.” Four of the winners hope to someday become educators. One student has helped coordinate trips to Washington, D.C., to demonstrate on behalf of a woman’s right to choose. And, another recipient of Moore’s scholarship helped create Arlington West—a temporary memorial of more than 1,400 crosses symbolizing the American military death toll in Iraq. Stuart, and her “evil conservative” ways, apparently never had chance.
However, Byzak hopes his conservative scholarship does indeed give students such as Stuart a fighting chance on a liberal campus. “We are encouraging people to study the conservative side (they already know the liberal side) because we are confident that, when the two are considered, the conservative side will easily win out. It just makes sense.” Two Cal State San Marcos students will receive Byzak’s conservative scholarship. They will have a grade point average of 3.0 or higher, verifiable volunteerism or scholarly work in the realm of conservatism, and they will have successfully answered an essay question that asks what should conservatives do to counter the liberal bias on college campuses.
Although Byzak says a number of people have contacted him and donated to his scholarship fund, the success of the fundraising effort will determine how long the conservative award will be around. On the other hand, “Tubby” plans to make his liberal scholarship at Cal State San Marcos available each year.
While, he isn’t trying to directly compete with Moore’s cash campaign on campus, Byzak wants to aid as many conservative students as possible and wouldn’t mind help from others to do it. “We, as conservatives, need to start supporting those students who are willing to put some work into learning the philosophy,” says Byzak. In other words, cash warfare has commenced on our college campuses, and at stake are the future leaders of America.
You may contact Aaron Byzak at firstname.lastname@example.org