Young conservatives now have their own little corner of cyberspace to exchange ideas on activism, rate teachers by liberal bias, and even obtain legal support “when subjected to abusive indoctrination or bias on campus.”
Campusreform.org wasn’t designed as a “conservative Facebook,” according to New Media Director Adrienne Royer, but instead as a tool to integrate what’s already out there in social media and put it to use for conservatives.
“We want to combine all those resources, and give students the ability to fight back on their campuses,” said Royer. The goal is to help them “take their campuses back from, you know, leftist professors and administrators who really run over them a lot.”
Behind the effort is The Leadership Institute (LI), a non-profit, non-partisan think-tank located in Arlington, Virginia. Founded in 1979 by Morton Blackwell, LI has trained more than 74,000 people with the goal of “increasing the number and effectiveness of conservative activists and leaders in the public policy process.”
Some have accused conservatives of being too slow on the draw when it comes to activating youth via the internet and social media. This was most clearly demonstrated in the 2008 presidential election, when then-candidate Barack Obama created a broad grassroots movement of young activists with the help of the internet.
“Campus Reform definitely came as a result of seeing how effective the Obama campaign was with organizing college students and young people through the web,” said Royer. “I think 2008 was definitely a wakeup call… It was a wakeup call for the Leadership Institute to say, no, we really need to engage students on social media and on the social networks.”
Some of the most anticipated aspects of the site include a tool to rate professors and textbooks based on perceived levels of liberal bias. Designed to combat any alleged usage of “the bully pulpit” by professors, this section of the site will be monitored to prevent misuse.
“They can rate a professor on a scale with lecture bias, discussion bias, and reading bias on a scale of 1 to 5, from liberal to fair, and then that gives them an overall bias scale,” Royer said. “You can also vote comments up and down, so the community members can refine it. ‘Oh I have a professor, he is a liberal, but he is grades very fairly.’ You know, so if someone says they’re not fair, I can vote that down.”
The website has been online since September 1 undergoing successful beta testing, and Royer is confident that as the site continues to evolve they will reach their goal of 10,000 members by the end of the year. “This site will be constantly evolving just like other social networks, you know, this is not a final product, we’re going to be adding in new features.”
One particular feature that Royer is looking to expand is a “friending” component, which would allow users to connect with each other similar to Facebook.
Ultimately, said Royer, this is exactly the right time to launch a website for young conservatives. “We’re seeing a resurgence in conservative activists, so we’re hoping this gets down to the conservative college student level and that they can mobilize on their campuses,” she said. “It’s kind of fitting in perfectly with everything that’s going on in the country.”