“Today’s Young Republican is a young professional between the ages of 18 and 40 looking to make a positive difference in their community and the nation.”[i]
- The Young Republican National Federation currently has over 800 clubs in 46 states and continues to grow.[ii]
- Some polls show that an increasing amount of incoming students on college campuses hold conservative views on current issues. Conservative does not necessarily indicate students who identify themselves as right-wing or Republicans, says Linda Sax, the U.C.L.A. Institute’s associate director. She goes on to say, “Students’ opinions of particular issues are not always in line with their own self-placement on an ideological spectrum.” And so the conservative campus groups acknowledge this and work not to persuade college students to agree with their ideology, but rather convince the students that they already hold the conservative views inherent in the conservative Republican party.[iii]
- The CRNC includes 120,000 college students on 1,148 campuses throughout the country. The organization has claimed a tripling of its membership and credits its increase to outreach programs (such as the Field Program, Women’s Outreach, Minority Outreach and Jewish Outreach). The College Republican National Committee claimed the forefront of the effort to bring young college students to the Republican party as the country prepared for the 2004 elections, and now as the country prepares for four more years of the Bush administration.[iv]
- The creators of the Bucknell University Conservatives Club describe themselves and other conservative collegiates as “defenders of ‘individuality’ and ‘freedom’ against a campus, and world, overrun by groupthink liberalism and pious political correctness… despite the common perception of youth being synonymous with progressive, liberal ideals, the true spirit of their generation is solidly, if quietly, conservative.”[v]
- The CRNC lists as its shared values with minority constituents of the country some of the following: Some of these values include: “supporting strong communities and families, making a quality education available to every child and student, realizing the importance of a single market economy, opportunity and diversity, and ensuring that individual liberties are preserved.”[vi] None of this speaks to any specifics whatsoever; noting nothing that would signify that the minority communities suffer under different circumstances in this country that should be specifically addressed by the Republican party.
- “To find the best place to recruit young Hispanics, African Americans and other minorities to the Party, one needs not look farther then their own college campus. MPT (MI PARTIDO TAMBIEN, the Republican party’s campaign recruit young minorities to the Party) representatives are currently part of the CRNC field program and have been sent to targeted states for outreach.”[vii] While the Republican party is making a concerted effort to engage minority college students in their party’s efforts and interests, does this campaign really signify a sincere desire to engage the country’s minority citizens as a whole?
- 4.3 million minority students between the ages of 18 and 24 attended college between 2000-01 (up from just 2 million between 1980-81). Despite these gains, only 40 percent of African-Americans and 34 percent of Hispanics attend college, compared to 46 percent of whites.[viii] The director of the Office of Minorities in Education for the ACE (American Council on Education), William Harvey, said the study conducted by his organization are a direct reflection of American social norms, “The gaps relate to some of the real fundamental social and economic conditions in this country.”
- Young Americans for Freedom; Young America’s Foundation; the Leadership Institute; the Collegiate Network; the Intercollegiate Studies Institute; The College Republican National Committee; Young Republican National Federation; Young Republicans state chapters; Grand Old Cause; Students for Academic Freedom; Committee for Freedom; Leadership Institute; Hoosier Review;
“Through [these] coordinated activities, these groups have embarked in the last three years on a concerted campus recruitment drive to turn temperamentally conservative youngsters into organized right-wing activists.”[ix]
- The College Republican National Committee launched an aggressive direct-mail fundraising campaign, soliciting over $10 million from individual donors; much of their other costs are not met by corporations, but by a select group of individuals. This select group of wealthy individuals consists mostly of older Republicans, four individuals/couples that donated over $100,000 each and the RNC which donated $25,000 in 2002.[x]
- CRNC hired an independent direct-mail firm to manage the solicitations, Response Dynamics, Inc.[xi]
- Conservative groups are funding the push for an expanded right-wing presence on college campuses nationwide by: cash donations for the creation and maintenance of conservative campus newspapers; offering free training in ”conservative leadership,” and often paying for travel to their ”publishing programs”; lecture fees for celebrity right-wing speakers also provide extra funding.[xii]
- Conservative campus newspapers are on the rise again. The history of campus conservative newspapers is often nostalgically remembered as the victim of an overwhelming liberal campus presence, an atmosphere in which they are uncomfortably the minority. Their autobiographical account portrays the victimized conservative newspapers history as a “ continuing story of conservative journalism on campus. It is an inspiring story of shoestring budgets, sleepless nights, and perseverance in the face of what is still often fierce student, and occasionally administration, animosity. It is a story that demonstrates one of the founding premises of modern American conservatism. As the famous title of one of Richard Weaver’s books puts it, “Ideas have consequences.”[xiii]
“The well-funded national organizations backing the young right encourage campus conservatives to see themselves as oppressed minorities. ‘Young America’s Foundation alleviates the isolation so many young conservatives face,’ says a brochure for the National Conservative Student Conference. Another YAF pamphlet says its speakers ‘energize students in the fight for freedom on campus against radically anti-American, leftist professors.’”[xiv]
- “Liberal Arts faculties at most universities are politically and philosophically one-sided, while partisan propagandizing often intrudes into classroom discourse. It is appropriate for faculty to want open-minded students in their classes, not disciples,” said conservative activist David Horowitz, which sparked a debate on the country’s college campuses about the repression of conservative student’s rights and representation on campuses in 2004.[xv]
- This is called framing, theorized as the selection of “…some aspects of a perceived reality [that] make them more salient in a communicating text, in such a way as to promote a particular problem definition, causal interpretation, moral evaluation, and/or treatment recommendation for the item described.”[xvi]
- Framing of conservative issues portrayed the necessity to protect and ensure the rights and representation of conservative student’s interests on college campuses due to perceived suppression by the academic institutions and progressive/liberal students. So, the Students for Academic Freedom, a conservative students group based in D.C., led the effort to pass the Academic Bill of Rights, “a proposal to ensure political diversity on campus.”[xvii]
- Due to the particular framing of this issue, college campus chapters of the Students for Academic Freedom have popped up on at least 135 campuses to protect conservative viewpoints. The group, along with David Horowitz’s Center for the Study of Popular Culture, has successfully assured its members and many of the college governments that it is appropriate to keep a record of professors’ party affiliation. The database reported that at 32 campuses Democrats outnumber registered Republicans, with a large number of faculty listed as unaffiliated. Particularly interesting is the lack of adequate information to indicate whether the registered faculty are conservative Democrats or liberal Republicans. Consequently, the study cannot provide adequate evidence to support its conclusion that “most students probably graduate without ever having a class taught by a professor with a conservative viewpoint.” This study and the efforts of the Students for Academic Freedom therefore cannot be regarded as a serious argument, rather as a framed story, one with an agenda and with no sufficient evidence to back it up.
If the frame of campuses dominated by left-wing professors is accepted then it doesn’t matter if the data used to support that position is faulty. Los Angeles Times syndicated columnist, David Kelly, wrote in a November 29, 2003 column: ‘Some students have complained of being forced to attend abortion-rights rallies, of being required to write essays critical of the Bush administration and of having a strident anti-religion agenda pushed on them. Some who protested have said they received poor grades or were asked to leave the class.’ Kelly provides no evidence for these charges.[xviii]
- Defense of Civilization Fund, a right-wing think tank headed by Lynne Chaney published a report recently, Defending Civilization: How Our Universities Are Failing America and What Can be Done About It, criticized both anti-war students and faculty expression of opposition to the war in Afghanistan and Iraq. The report contends that the solution to this threatening problem of American freedom of expression is rigorous curriculum devoted to promoting “…America’s continuing struggle to extend the principles on which it was founded…We need to know, in a time of war, exactly what is at stake.”[xix] Most distressing is the fact that the report lists the names and positions of 117 students and faculty and the “un-patriotic” statements that they have made. To make the list one’s statement need not to have been explicit; the report cites the some of the following as dangerous to national security and anti-American:
Break the cycle of violence.
We have to learn to use courage for peace instead of war.
Ignorance breeds hate.
We need to hear more then one perspective on how we can make the world a safer place.[xx]
- Yet another example of framing: A survey conducted and published by the Independent Women’s Forum last week has been used to reveal that there has been an “unprecedented swing to right-wing politics on college campuses” by a journalist for UWire, the internet-based U.S. university news source. The study and journalist cites evidence for this swing to an overwhelming swing to right by focusing on findings such as, “The study was aimed at gauging student reactions to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, D.C., and reported 96 percent of college students feel ‘changed’ since that time… A strong military is ‘extremely important’ to 80 percent of the 600 students from 300 college campuses who were included in the survey. That’s only an average of 2 students for each school that was surveyed!
Research compiled while serving as the Research Associate for Oakland Institute, 2005.
(C) 2009 By Shannon Laliberte Parks. All Rights Reserved. Please Obtain Permission to Copy.
[i] Young Republican National Federation website, http://yrnf.com/portal/alias_Rainbow/lang_en-US/tabID_3332/DesktopDefault.aspx.
[ii] Young Republican National Federation website, http://yrnf.com/portal/alias_Rainbow/lang_en-US/tabID_3332/DesktopDefault.aspx.
[iii] Colapinto, John, “The Young Hipublicans,” Young Americans for Freedom, http://yaf.com/hipublicans.shtml.
[iv] The College Republican National Committee website, http://crnc.org/default1.asp.
[v] Colapinto, John, “The Young Hipublicans,” Young Americans for Freedom, http://yaf.com/hipublicans.shtml.
[vi] The College Republican National Committee website, http://crnc.org/default1.asp.
[viii] “Number of minorities in college doubles, CNN.com, 10/09/03, http://cnn.com/2003/EDUCATION/10/09/colleges.race.ap/. This article laid out some of the findings of the Minorities in Higher Education Annual Status Report issued by the American Council on Education, a Washington-based umbrella organization representing the nation’s largest institutions of higher education.
[ix] Colapinto, John, “The Young Hipublicans,” Young Americans for Freedom, http://yaf.com/hipublicans.shtml.
[x] O’Donnell, Meghan, “Young Money: College Republicans show how to play the fundraising game,” Center for Public Integrity, 09/25/03, http://www.publicintegrity.org/527/report.aspx?aid=10.
[xi] O’Donnell, Meghan, “Young Money: College Republicans show how to play the fundraising game,” Center for Public Integrity, 09/25/03, http://public-i.org/527/report.aspx?aid=10.
[xiii] Kabala, Bolek, “The Alternatives: A brief history and celebration of conservative newspapers on campus,” National Review Online, 1/23/03, http://www.nationalreview.com/comment/comment-kabala012303.asp.
[xiv] Wendling, Zach, “The Young Right Wing Conspiracy,” The Hoosier Review, 09/06/04, http://www.hoosierreview.com/archives/000253.html#000253.
[xv] Pike, Jon R., “The Right Wing on College Campuses and the Battle of the Frame,” The Free Press: Speaking Truth to Power, 12/01/04, http://freepress.org/departments/display/21/2004/962.
[xvi] Pike, Jon R., “The Right Wing on College Campuses and the Battle of the Frame,” The Free Press: Speaking Truth to Power, 12/01/04, http://freepress.org/departments/display/21/2004/962.
[xvii] Pike, Jon R., “The Right Wing on College Campuses and the Battle of the Frame,” The Free Press: Speaking Truth to Power, 12/01/04, http://freepress.org/departments/display/21/2004/962.
[xviii] Pike, Jon R., “The Right Wing on College Campuses and the Battle of the Frame,” The Free Press: Speaking Truth to Power, 12/01/04, http://freepress.org/departments/display/21/2004/962.
[xix] Bernt, Dave, “Right-wingers witch hunt universities,” Youth 4 Socialist Action, http://geocities.com/youth4sa/s11-universities.html. Review of a recent Time magazine article, The Rights New Wing, describing the surge in the new young right-wing, conservative campus groups and their strategies.
[xx] Bernt, Dave, “Right-wingers witch hunt universities,” Youth 4 Socialist Action, http://geocities.com/youth4sa/s11-universities.html.