More than 400 participants from 38 states, 190 colleges and universities, and from as far away as Britain, Brazil, Canada, Hungary, and Hong Kong convened in the nation’s capital to learn about conservative ideas seldom taught in college classrooms. It was Young America’s Foundation 31st annual National Conservative Student Conference, which took place from August 3-8. Held at The George Washington University, YAF’s conference attracted such conservative heavy weights as syndicated columnist Ann Coulter, Sen. Jim DeMint, Rep. Mike Pence, and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich.
For five days, the students were captivated by the words from these and many more conservative leaders, stressing the importance of remaining true to the founding principles of this nation: smaller government, strong national defense, market-based economy, and traditional values. Dr. Robert George of Princeton University, another high-profile speaker, encouraged students to read the classics of conservative thought to help sharpen their minds to dissect the liberalism that permeates most classrooms today.
“Despite what we hear from the mainstream media, not every young person is an Obama fanatic,” said Ron Robinson, YAF’s president. “Our conference is fully subscribed every year with a long waiting list to boot.”
In a strategy session on campus activism, students heard from Patrick Coyle, vice president of YAF, who urged the students to participate in activist initiatives including the “9/11 Never Forget Project” and “Freedom Week.” Robert Spencer of JihadWatch.com and Jed Babbin, editor of HUMAN EVENTS, informed students on the nuts and bolts of foreign policy, most notably the ever-growing threat of radical Islam and how liberals are ignoring it.
“I am no longer afraid,” said Jacob Ferrari of the University of California-Los Angeles. “I know how to stand up for myself. I have peers alongside to help me, and I will never give up on the belief in life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Thank you for the most amazing week of my entire summer.”
When the students arrived on a Monday evening, they were eager to hear from the powerhouse lineup of speakers. And those speakers didn’t disappoint. “After hearing these lectures I feel more inspired, more emboldened, and wiser than I did before,” said Kit Elliott of California State University-Monterey Bay. “This is a rare opportunity to pick the minds of experts and receive their insights to illuminate the dark areas of academia.”
On the first full day at the conference, the students received the opportunity to hear from Dr. Burt Folsom of Hillsdale College. Dr. Folsom’s engaging personality and style captivated the students when he spoke of FDR’s disastrous New Deal policies and how they hurt, not helped, America during the Great Depression. The first day also featured Focus on the Family’s Tim Goeglein and the Wall Street Journal‘s Stephen Moore. Later on in the day, there was a panel on what “a real education looks like” Panelists included Dr. Richard Jewell of Grove City College, Dr. Jerry Davis of College of the Ozarks, and Dr. Jim Carr of Harding University.
The National Conservative Student Conference welcomed thirty students from Great Britain. The students were a part of the Young Britons’ Foundation, an organization that promotes conservatism in schools, colleges and universities all across Great Britain. Our friends from across the pond helped land Daniel Hannan, minister of European Parliament, to speak. Mr. Hannan, well known amongst conservatives thanks to his Parliament speeches distributed on YouTube, was a fan favorite among the students. He gave them a fresh perspective on several issues, such as Britain’s everlasting partnership with America and what a nationalized health care system would mean for America
The rest of the conference presented many other great speakers, including Young America’s Foundation vice president Kate Obenshain, former Godfather’s Pizza CEO and radio show host Herman Cain, Kangaroo Millionaire author Marc Hrisko, Alliance Defense Fund’s David French, Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute President Michelle Easton, and noted pundit Bay Buchanan.
On the final night, Ann Coulter electrified the students, sending them back to their campuses energized and ready to advance conservative ideas within the hostile walls of academia. The National Conservative Student Conference also reached more than 90 million homes as C-SPAN brought live coverage of the events throughout the week.
“I will never forget this awesome, inspiring experience,” said Jimmy Boggs of the University of Kentucky. “Just being in the same room with Ann Coulter, Newt Gingrich, Monica Crowley, Bay Buchanan — people I thought I would never see outside a TV screen — were just 10 feet away.”