Student Leaders Inspired at YAF Conference

Young America’s Foundation conferences were called “major events for conservative students throughout the country” by William F. Buckley, Jr. The 32nd annua1 National Conservative Student Conference earlier this month was no exception. 

More than 450 participants from 38 states, the United Kingdom, France, and Canada, representing more than 135 colleges and universities came to George Washington University in Washington, D.C., for a week-long introduction to conservative ideas.

The level of excitement only increased throughout the week as many conservative leaders gave remarks.

Students heard remarks from Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R.-Wash.) about her fight against the left-wing agenda in the House of Representatives. “We can start anew and make America a greater leader in this century as it was in the last century,” she said. 

Former Sen. Fred Thompson (R.-Tenn.) spoke about the need to change the culture of Washington and the need for Americans to take action. He talked about his return to acting saying, “After spending 8 years in Washington, I missed the sincerity and realism of Hollywood.”

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, discussing the Declaration of Independence, noted, “It’s a right to pursue happiness, which doesn’t mean a right to be happy, doesn’t say you are entitled to sue if you are unhappy, doesn’t suggest we need a federal department of happiness, it doesn’t propose that we need happiness stamps for the under-happy, and it doesn’t suggest that politicians should take from the too happy to give to the unhappy so that we can have a redistribution of happiness.” 

One evening was dedicated to honoring David Horowitz as he received a Lifetime Achievement Award for his long-time activism for freedom through campus lectures, books and pamphlets, websites, and many other achievements. Ed Feulner, president of the Heritage Foundation, and Sen. Jeff Sessions (R.-Ala.) offered congratulatory remarks along with Republican Representatives Michele Bachmann (Minn.), Jack Kingston (Ga.) and Ed Royce (Calif.) and Sen. Jon Kyl (R.-Ariz.).  

Many of the speakers discussed the theme of defending freedom from the left’s constant urge for larger government. 

“Everything government does to increase its power comes at direct expense of your freedom,” warned Virginia Atty. Gen. Ken Cuccinelli, whose remarks were aired on C-SPAN nationwide.  
Other speakers included Burt Folsom, Marji Ross, Rich Lowry, Ken Blackwell, Bay Buchanan, Jason Mattera, John Miller, Matt Kibbe, Walter Williams, Robert George, Wayne Thorburn, Herman Cain, Sally Pipes, Michelle Easton and former Virginia Gov. George Allen.

As the conference grew to a close almost all the students said they had gained immeasurably from the experience. 

Kathryn DeNicola from Notre Dame University said “These past five days have inspired me and I am more confident now in my conservative beliefs on campus and beyond.” 

Those sentiments were further echoed by Mike Cunningham from Purdue University who said, “This has been the most inspiring and thought-provoking week of my life! In a time where conservative ideas on campus are made to seem unpopular and wrong, this conference has inspired me and given me the courage to stand up for conservative ideas.”