Back in the 1960s, there was a revolution on our nation?s college campuses. Liberal students were organizing protests outside buildings, and even sit-ins inside the offices of deans and college presidents. But, since then, many of these radical students have become college professors. And some of those professors are now college administrators. Now, they?ve decided that they are no longer in favor of protests and sit-ins. And, lately, they?ve been confronted with some problems.
Over the last couple of years, the membership of college conservative groups has grown dramatically. Some of these groups have started to employ tactics that should make former campus leftists proud. But things like affirmative action ?bake sales? (selling cookies to whites at full price, with discounts for minorities) designed to show the absurdity of campus admission policies have evoked a negative reaction from college administrators.
The efforts of some colleges to shut down these classic demonstrations of free speech have failed miserably. For example, at William and Mary College, administrators recently claimed that students conducting such a sale were ?violating campus policy.? However, when later asked by the student protestors to cite the specific policies, the administration claimed that, ?Referring to the Student Handbook at this point in time is counterproductive."
Later, when this story hit the media, concerned citizens wrote to William and Mary President Timothy J. Sullivan. He responded to their concerns with childish emails like the following:
Dear Mr. Crawford, Some fool has sent me an email and signed your name to it. You should do what you can to discover the identity of the person. He or she is doing real harm to your reputation. I will help you if I can. Tim Sullivan.
Unfortunately, such incidents are not isolated. Similarly disgraceful episodes have occurred at UC-Irvine, Northwestern, and Southern Methodist University. (Log on to www.thefire.org for full details).
Many conservatives find themselves wondering what can be done to help these former-campus-leftists-turned-student-oppressors to regain an appreciation of constitutionally protected free speech, including campus protests.
The answer is simple: We need to make them angry. In fact, we need to make them so angry that they actually begin to organize protests of their own, just like in the good old days. And there is no better way to do that than to bring a flood of conservative speakers to our nation?s college campuses.
Recently, the College Republicans (CRs) tried to do just that at UNC-Wilmington. Last fall, they made a public records request, which revealed that the university had spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on campus speakers over the last several years, none of which were conservative. For example, Cornel West was paid $12,000 to speak at the university. After adding travel expenses, production costs, and promotion, the bill came to $13,889. The total costs for an hour-long Bush-bashing by Molly Ivins came to $17,983. Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. was a better buy at only $17,476.
Shortly after acquiring this information, the CRs were booted from campus for allegedly being the only campus organization that had not signed a set of clauses, which would have required them to admit Democrats into their group. Since then, they have obtained information showing that the university lied about the circumstances surrounding that de-recognition. As a result, they expect to be reinstated early this semester.
When they are reinstated, the CRs intend to follow a course of action that every conservative student group in America should pursue. They are going to demand more funding for conservative speakers at their public university. They know that the constitution requires viewpoint neutrality when public universities fund speakers, despite the university?s efforts to stack the selection committees with liberal professors favoring liberal speakers.
Student groups across America should follow their lead. In fact, I want every leader of every conservative student group reading this editorial to do the following:
1. Make a public records request at your university, specifically asking for the names of all campus speakers over the last five years. Also, request the exact amount of money spent on each speaker, including the speaker fee, travel costs, production, and promotion.
2. When you inevitably find an imbalance between conservative and liberal speakers, make specific requests for conservative campus speakers. Make sure you do so in writing.
In addition, I am asking every conservative speaker in America to do the following:
1. Immediately reduce your fees for all speeches given at public universities. Charge no more than $5000 for each speech you give at a public university and pay for your own travel expenses.
2. Accept all offers to speak on college campuses, unless you are already booked elsewhere.
Take a moment to imagine what it will be like when we implement this new strategy. Every time a tax-and-spend liberal (like Molly Ivins or RFK, Jr.) hits up your local university for a $15,000+ plug for the DNC, the university will have to fund three different conservative speakers offering a contrary point of view. What better way to celebrate diversity?
Recently, a senior taking one of my classes asked why he had never heard a conservative speaker at UNC-Wilmington. If conservative students would stop complaining and take action and conservative speakers would make themselves affordable and available, students wouldn?t have to ask that question anymore.
If you still aren?t convinced, imagine all your social science and humanities professors holding picket signs decrying the lack of liberal speakers on campus. This could be a lot more fun than baking cookies.
Mike Adams (firstname.lastname@example.org) is an associate professor at UNC-Wilmington. He regrets causing some readers to have an old Beatles song stuck inside their head. He recommends humming a few lines of ?Take Me Home, Country Roads? by John Denver.