Washington, D.C. March 4, 2007
Gib Armstrong; Pennsylvania District 13; Senator
Paul Gourley; College Republican National Committee; Chairman
Steve Miller; Duke University; Student
Tom Robbins; College Republican National Committee; Treasurer
Todd Taylor; Penn State College Republicans; President
Nate Walton; Bates University; Student
Gib Armstrong: This panel is going to discuss, “What Can We Do.”
You know, when this issue was brought to my attention, a couple years ago when I was in the legislature, I was advised by some of my own conservative Republican colleagues, “Don’t get involved. Higher ed. will come after you with both barrels. And you’re going to pay a price.” And my answer was twofold. The first part is I said, “Look, it doesn’t matter. That’s what we’re here for.” And secondly, “There’s no way we can lose.” They already owned the whole battlefield at the time. So thinking back to my Marine Corps strategy, if they own the whole battlefield and you don’t own any, no matter which way you go, you’re advancing. And we’ve seen evidence of that here this weekend.
What can we do? There’s three things I’d like to recommend to frame this panel. The first is to say thank you. Thank you to David, and thank you to your team. Without David and the people behind him who work so hard, like Sara, Brad, Missy and many others, we would not have the ability to do what we do with as great effect.
I also want to thank you students for having the courage to stand up. And you give me hope that freedom is alive and well in the next generation of Americans. And you to me are heroes. Heroes are ordinary people who do extraordinary things. And as we’ve seen here this morning, many of you are doing extraordinary things.
The second thing we need to do is understand the nature of the struggle. This is a struggle about freedom, and it’s a struggle about truth. It’s a struggle about, are you going to make choices for yourself, or is someone else going to make those choices for you? When you’re free, you make the choices for yourself. When you’re in bondage or poverty, someone else chooses for you.
Matt, in the last panel, quoted a professor who said that Bush is some hick who just wants too many freedoms. There it is, right there. The left hates freedom. They want to be in control. And that is why Islamic fascism and our socialist, left-wing professors on our college campuses are natural allies; they both hate freedom. And they also don’t like the truth.
You know, Christ said that you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. We here, as College Republicans, as Students for Academic Freedom, as American citizens — we’re not interested in replacing a left-wing speech code for a right-wing speech code. All we want is a level playing field. And on a level playing field, the truth, the best ideas, will stand on their own merit. But that’s all we need is just a level playing field for the truth to win out. Those who want to destroy your freedom, your prosperity and your liberty obfuscate the truth.
The third thing — the first thing we do is we say thank you. Secondly, understand the nature of the struggle. And then thirdly, stand up. And that’s what this conference is about. Many of you are standing up, and you’re paying a personal price.
And for those of you who know students who say, “Well, I’d kind of like to stand up, but I’m not really sure if I should,” shame on you. I think it was Franklin who said that those who would trade freedom for security deserve neither. And if your freedom isn’t worth something to you, isn’t worth a little bad grade once in awhile, then maybe you don’t deserve to have it.
And for those of us that have paid a price, we’re the better for it. Because we now know the preciousness of freedom and the preciousness of liberty. And we know what we’re willing to stand up for.
You know, we’ve experienced some losses; we’ve experienced many victories, especially in Pennsylvania, with the help of David and his team. But there’s still a long road ahead of us. And it’s an uphill road. But you know, I think back to — I think it was Thomas Payne who said, at Valley Forge, that, you know, these are the times that try men’s souls. At the end of that quote, he says that the more arduous the struggle, the more glorious the triumph. And that triumph someday will be ours.
The dam has been breeched. There’s now a crack in the dam. And every day, there’s more water flowing through it. And it’s only a matter of time until we see in academia in the United States a level playing field, as long as we keep with it.
After we stand up, we have to — and again, we’re not interested in posing a left-wing — or replacing a left-wing speech code with a right-wing speech code. What we want is simply accountability. But those who reject the truth and want to take away your freedom — they don’t like accountability. So they’re fighting us at every step of the way.
As we stand up, as we speak the truth, as we seek greater accountability, as we seek a level playing field — as Ruth so ably articulated this morning, when the going gets tough, just remember, never, never, never give in. Just keep fighting, and the result will be worth it. And even if we don’t succeed, even if we don’t get everything we want — in Pennsylvania, we didn’t get everything we wanted. But we still got a lot further ahead than we were when we started.
So it’s an honor to be with you this morning. We’ve got some panelists who are going to talk about what can we do. Many of them, as I said, are heroes in their own right. They know what it’s like to take a few shots for standing up for things that they believe in.
The first person I’d like to introduce is Paul Gourley, who’s the Chairman of the College Republicans National Committee. Thank you for being with us this morning, Paul.
Paul Gourley: Thanks, Gib.
Well, thank you, Gib, for the introduction and those remarks. You’re a great ally to us in Pennsylvania, and really helped pave the way for what we hope to do in every state across the country. And I want to say thank you to David for having me here today. You are a great ally in our fight against the left on campus. And that’s really what, I think, we need to focus on, is our allies, our friends.
What resources can we rely on on campus in this important fight? Who here is a College Republican? Wow, just about every hand goes up. That’s pretty great. That’s pretty great. But being a College Republican is not just enough; we have to use our organization and utilize our organization on campus for this fight.
I think that College Republicans are one of the strongest grass-roots organizations in the country. I don’t think anybody would dispute that — that when it comes to knocking on doors and making phone calls, and getting out the vote for Republican candidates; we’re there early, we stay late, and we work hard until, you know, the votes are cast and we’ve won. But when the election’s over historically, we go to sleep. We disappear. We slide away from campus.
But we need to change that. We need to change the culture of our College Republican clubs on campus to do more every single day in this fight for academic freedom. We need to use your membership, your money, your voice, your resources and your group on campus to pass this Academic Bill of Rights with your student governments and with your board of regents, and at your universities. You need to — you need to not just use David Horowitz and the Academic Freedom Center as a resource for you, but you need to give this movement your resources from College Republicans.
I think that we’ve done great things in Pennsylvania. I think that we’ve got a lot of great things going in states across the country. But we need to do more, and we need to do more now, using your College Republicans. Because it’s tough, as a conservative on campus, to stand alone. But when you’re in this group, and if you can do this as a group, you’re not alone. You’re much more powerful as a group and as an organization.
So I’d encourage you, now that the election is over, and before we gear up for 2008, to use your College Republican club aggressively to pass the Academic Bill of Rights on your campus and in your state. Thanks, Ed.
I suppose you’ve all been to CPAC this week, so you’ve been hearing people speak to you nonstop. I look forward to your questions. So I’m going to make these remarks very brief. And I look forward to hearing what’s going on out there with you guys. Thank you.
Gib Armstrong: Well, our next panelist is a man who needs no introduction to many of us. While he’s not playing in his band, Steve Miller is active at Duke University and is going to talk to us about the power and the influence that one college student can have.
Steve Miller: First of all, I just wanted to say thank you to David for having me here, and for everything that all of us here know that he does for this country and for our movement. I think I speak for many college students when I say that he’s provided us just with tremendous inspiration and resources, and that he’s made change and progress possible where otherwise it would not have been. So thank you, David.
I’d like to just very briefly today talk about two different things that demonstrate how you can make a difference on your college campus, with just some very specific, concrete ideas.
The first is a 9/11 memorial that I organized this year in the 5th anniversary of 9/11. Now, in the previous years on campus, there really had been no recognition at all of the September 11th tragedy. And to the extent that there had been, they’d been very politically correct and had emphasized the importance of having a response of peace and love to whoever our enemies might be, and to not looking at what actually happened on that day, which of course is very unfortunate. Because part of that tragedy was the absolute horror of those attacks, and the evil of the enemies that committed them.
And so I decided I was going to bring a 9/11 memorial to campus, which of course would be nonpartisan but would emphasize the traditional values which unified America and which any proper memorial ought to have. In order for this memorial to happen, though, it was necessary to get school funding of at least several thousand dollars. Because I wanted to have a very large, expansive memorial that would befit a university the size of Duke.
Now unfortunately, the school didn’t seem to have much interest in funding the memorial, which didn’t come as a tremendous surprise, considering how politically correct Duke University was. But I felt like there had to be a way to get Duke University behind such an important project.
So what I decided to do was to go to the city council and to see if I could get some city councilmen to support the project, and turn the Duke memorial into a sort of community memorial. Fortunately for me, I got two city councilmen onboard, as well as the city manager. And I also got in touch with the fire department and got them onboard as well.
And so for anybody who wants to organize a 9/11 memorial at their school, I would suggest both going to the fire department, the police department and the city council as an excellent way to get important backers for your project — and that when I had some of them express their support for the project to the school, the school’s tune started to change a little bit. Because they realized that they would have to be saying no not just to me, but no to the city councilmen and the fire department as well.
And so shortly after I got them onboard, the school turned around, and they gave us about $5,000 for the memorial which, in addition to some money we got from Veterans of Foreign Wars, put us in very good standing.
The memorial consisted of a 2,997-flag display in the main quad in front of the Duke Chapel, one flag for each life taken on 9/11. We had a display in the Brian Center honoring the policemen and the firemen that sacrificed their lives so nobly on that day. We screened the film “United 93″ to share the sacrifice of the brave men and women of that flight. And we handed out flag pins all over campus, so people could show their support for the country that had been so brutally attacked on 9/11. And then we had an evening memorial service with the fire department and the police honor guard. And we had the fire department chaplain, and the we had the dean of our Duke Chapel and city councilmen give a speech.
And about 1,000 students came to this thing. And it was outside, and it was just one of the most moving evenings that I’ve ever had. And it was just amazing to see how the campus came together for this 9/11 memorial, which — and I’d never seen such an outpouring of patriotism on Duke’s campus before in my entire time there.
And it just showed me that there are students that are looking for the chance to show their patriotism and to unite behind their fellow Americans as we look back on the horrible tragedy of 9/11, and that it was just up to some concerned students to bring that opportunity to them, because the university wouldn’t. And it was amazing how many kids ended up helping out on this project, more than any other project I’d ever worked on in my entire life.
And it was so great to have this memorial on campus which wasn’t at all politically correct, or any way modified to not harm people’s various sensibilities, but just to talk about what happened on that day and to mourn that terrible, horrific loss. And I would suggest to anybody as an excellent and meaningful and moving project to do on your campus, to organize such a memorial. And it really was one of the — just the most stirring and meaningful experiences in my life to be part of that.
The other thing I just wanted to briefly talk to you about was the Terrorism Awareness Project, which some of you have already heard about and seen this weekend. But the Terrorism Awareness Project, which was founded only a matter of weeks ago, is a project that we’re trying to bring to college campuses across America, through the David Horowitz Freedom Center, which is basically, as David has described, a Paul Revere mission to wake people up to the threat of Islamic terror.
And so far, we have about 45 campus coordinators bringing this project to their campuses. And as I said, we’re only a few weeks old. And basically, the idea is — take films like “Obsession,” and bring speakers like Robert Spencer and Daniel Pipes and Steve Emerson, and get this message onto college campuses about Islamic fascism and about the terror threat; the idea being that we can’t be victorious in our defense against violent Islamic jihad unless we understand the nature of the enemy and the nature of the threat. The cost of our ignorance, the cost of our complacency, ultimately will be lethal.
So you really couldn’t have a more crucial mission to bring to the youth of this country, who will be the stewards for the next generation, than to talk to them about the threat of radical Islam and Islamic jihad.
I would encourage all kids that are going to college campuses — I myself have brought the project to Duke — to go ahead and join this effort. You can incorporate it into the College Republicans. For instance, one of the things that we’re working on, that could potentially be huge, is doing a screening of “Obsession” on as many college campuses as we can in America on the same day, to wake people up, to show them — as Senator Santorum was speaking last night — why they actually do hate us; what the threat actually is.
And I truly believe that if we wake up this generation of youth, that we can be victorious in the struggle, which I think — and I think many of us think — is indeed the greatest struggle America has ever faced.
And in closing, let me just say that the key to success or failure for this nation as a whole really does depend on what happens with the youth. And so much of that depends upon what happens on our college campuses. So the fight that we’re fighting on our campuses could not possibly be more vital. And in a very significant way, the future of this country depends upon it.
Gib Armstrong: Next we have Tom Robbins. And Tom is the Treasurer for the College Republican National Committee. And Tom’s going to come and talk to us this morning about how to get some things done. Tom?
Tom Robbins: Well, this morning I want to talk a little bit about my perspectives, and things that I’ve been involved with when I was the State Chairman of the Utah College Republicans, and some of the things that happened to me as I traveled across Utah organizing campaigns. And I think as far as — if we’re looking to get things done, or to be effective, I’ve found that the principle of “those who show up are the people that make decisions and get things done” is a true principle — that you just have to be willing to show up; that you just have to be willing to offer yourselves, to volunteer, and to be involved and to be active, and to organize for candidates.
And oftentimes, especially during the 2004 election, I would show up in my broken-down, almost-completely dead Chevy Cavalier, with my trunk full of campaign signs. And I would bust onto a college campus with a bundle of energy, with clipboards in one hand, and a [roll of] college book and stickers in the other. And I’d go from campus to campus organizing College Republicans in the state of Utah, so that we could be victorious on Election Day.
And I remember one particular time that we decided that we were going to target Salt Lake Community College. Because we didn’t have an active campus there. So I took the time, and I figured out when they were going to have their opening club fair. And I looked online, and I talked to some people that are affiliated with the campus. And I found out they just did not — having a function or known-of active College Republican chapter. And considering that it was Salt Lake, and it was Utah, I knew that there were students on campus who wanted to be anxiously engaged, who, as part of their academic experience, wanted to be able to participate in campaigns.
So I went to campus that day. I can’t remember — I can remember showing up, and I was all excited. And I met the organizer. And I stuck out my hand and said, “Hi, my name’s Tom Robbins, the State Chairman of College Republicans. And I’m here to organize a College Republican chapter on your campus today.” “Did you fill out a form before? I mean, do you have the paperwork necessary to be able to do that?” “Well, this is the thing — we don’t have anyone on your campus right now that I know of. I’ve talked to some professors and things; they don’t know of anyone. But I know you guys are having this club fair. Can I just — I just want to engage your students, and see who we can get.” “Yeah, you’re going to need, like, five people — or I don’t know exactly the number — to be able to sign. And they’re going to have to file that with our offices to be able to authorize your table.” “Well, the thing is, like, I have the stickers right here, and I got the clipboards, and I showed up on campus, and I’m ready to roll. And I know that if I — I just need to — they’re going to — the students are showing up. I just need to engage them and get them involved.” “Yeah. Let me get back to you.”
So about — I think it was about 20 or 30 minutes, I just started setting up a table that I found. And after about 20 or 30 minutes, the lady said, “Okay. Well, I guess so.” All right.
Now I’d been trained by Paul Gourley and other great Americans on how to recruit on college campuses effectively. And I’d worked with allied organizations like LI, who I now train for. And so I knew how to effectively recruit College Republicans on a college campus.
So I stuck my Bush-Cheney bumper sticker on. And I was interested in engaging students who wanted to be a part of our cause and who wanted to see us and be involved. And so I stood out in front of my table; I didn’t stand behind them, or get a book out, like many of the other club organizers were doing, hoping that someone came to their table. And I stood proudly out. And I said, “Do you want to help elect President Bush? Do you want to be a College Republican? Do you want to help elect the President?” And wouldn’t you know it, people said, “Yeah, that’s awesome. You’re involved with the Bush campaign? You can get me involved?” “Yeah, let’s sign you up — be a College Republican.”
Couple minutes later, same lady — “Yeah. Going to have to ask you to take the Bush-Cheney sticker off.” I’m like, “Okay.” “Yeah, you — going to ask you to stop passing those out as well.” I’m like, “Little confused. Just bring me up to speed. What’s happening?” “Thing is, you said you wanted to organize College Republicans? This is actually for a specific campaign, President Bush’s campaign. We’re going to have to go ahead and ask you to just ask people to join College Republicans, and refrain from saying, ‘Would you want to help elect President Bush?’”
Folks, I’m at Salt Lake Community College. I don’t know if you’ve looked on the map; we’re a red state. I knew there was — I knew there were students on campus who wanted to be involved. I’m like — I mean, I wanted to say, you know, you guys have [seen the office space] — “Yeah, sorry if you didn’t get the memo. College Republicans, if I didn’t explain up-front, are going to be doing a few things to help elect the President of the United States.”
Needless to say, unfortunately at that time, what happens to a lot of us is I had to bite my tongue. Instead of having it out with her at that moment, I just said, “Do you want to join College Republicans? Do you want to join College Republicans,” to get my list full, and to be able to go back on that campus like I did, two and three other times, to be able to organize that club, and to be able to plug them in opportunities.
Because I believe as part of your campus experience, you need to be plugged into opportunities. And part of that is being able to work on campaigns. So that was a little bit of an unfortunate experience.
But the principle is that things get done in this country, or in campaigns especially, by those people who are willing to show up. And that day, I showed up, and then we were able to successfully organize College Republicans. And we got volunteers to work on campaigns in ‘04.
Now, when I was at Utah State University — the kind of other sphere I have to talk about, you know, academic freedom and whatnot — we had our typical things. They paid $23,000 to have Spike Lee come on campus, and he didn’t have any prepared remarks. He just got up there, and he was like — first thing out of his mouth — “Yeah, I’m against the war in Iraq.” I thought you made films, buddy. Like, hello, we paid you $23,000 in student fees.
And we got upset about it. We went to our student administration. And the student — or the administration said — we said, “You paid $23,000. This guy didn’t have any prepared remarks. He was completely unprofessional. He didn’t engage — he didn’t go to a class afterwards and lecture, or really engage in any academic stuff. We want to bring somebody on campus to talk about the war in Iraq, maybe why it’s a good idea to be there.” “Yeah, we can give you five hundo for that.”
But we got in contact with Young Americas Foundation. And they’re a great organization, just like LI and the organizations we’re working with today. And they were able to provide us with a speaker, who went out to lunch with us before, who offered himself to talk and lecture in classes if he wanted to afterwards, and was able to, just for $500, come on our campus and give a great speech just about the things that were going on, and why conservatives supported the war in Iraq, and offered that alternative viewpoint on campus.
Utah State University’s a fun place. And I had a lot of fun there, kind of just trying to promote the conservative message and organize College Republicans. And the last thing I wanted to talk about is Coca-Cola.
This is just about as American as you can get — Coca-Cola. But Utah State, like a lot of places in Utah that I’ve visited when I was organizing College Republicans — they don’t really operate in the free market. And they — for example, their bookstore would make it very difficult for students to be able to go online and get books, and all those different things.
And we started an organization called Stop Monopolies On Campus. And our idea was to bring free-market ideas to the Utah State University campus. I know that’s a really novel idea.
And so we had a lot of success. We actually put a lot of pressure on the bookstore. And with the power of the Internet, now that students could log on and go onto Amazon and get some of their textbooks and stuff, they’ve had to compete in that environment. And we challenged them to compete in that environment.
And one of the things that they’ve done since I’ve left Utah State University is apparently they’ve formed a student committee to get some input. And one day, a student said, I guess, “We would like Cokes on campus at the bookstore. Because sometimes I buy a book or a sweatshirt or like that, and I want a Coke; it’s not there. Can you do that?” And they said, “Okay. We want to provide that customer service.”
Unfortunately, they provided that customer service for $0.99. And Dining Services was like, “Well, here on campus, we actually charge $1.49 for that. So you’re going to have to go ahead, bookstore, and raise your prices, if that’s okay. You’re going to have to remove your cooler of Cokes for $0.99.”
Well fortunately, the Utah Statesman, the student newspaper, was alerted about this. And they wrote an article called, “Losing Its Fizz, Sodas being removed from the Bookstore at request of Food Services.” This is Utah State University which, in one level, is teaching economics classes; in the other level is running a monopoly through their Food Services.
And these are some of the gem quotes from Chuck Weaver, the Director of USU Dining Services. He says he doesn’t understand why the bookstore is trying to get into that market. “It’s traditional item for Food Services,” Weaver said. “I don’t want to get into the bookstore business. I don’t know why they’d want to get into the convenience store business.” Maybe because students want a fair price for an item that they’ve asked for. And they don’t want to have jacked-up prices from Dining Services at $1.49.
And so the bookstore said that they would pull the Cokes instead of raising prices. And there was a big outcry, and there was letters to the editor. And myself and some other people put some pressure on. And hallelujah, the bureaucracy’s response was, “We’re going to leave the Cokes in for now because of this great wave of outrage that came from all these students. And we’re going to have a committee to study that.”
Now, I wrote a letter into the — online, and I said, “Guys, I will save you the money and the time and the resources and the meetings, and all the effort that’s going to go in, and the studies and the projections that you guys are going to do. And I’ll boil it all down for you. Students — we’re a little bit on the poor side when we’re in college. And your study’s going to show that we want the $0.99 Cokes.”
I’m just giving you some kind of funny examples. I just have kind of my perspective of being the State Chairman of Utah College Republicans, and kind of traveling around. And those kind of funny things happen. But really, if you want to stand up, at Utah State, we were able to bring David Horowitz in. And they formed a committee to study that issue as well. And then we invited him to the speech when he was the keynote speaker at our State Republican Convention. And we invited that committee of faculty and students that had been formed to study the academic freedom issue and this David Horowitz guy. None of them showed up to hear him speak. I guess they were at another committee meeting; I’m not sure.
But the point being is I just want to leave everybody with the principle that college is a fun time; you can get engaged. It’s fun to work with organizations with Young Americas Foundation, LI, College Republicans, Students for Academic Freedom; bringing the conservative message to your college campus. Because in the end, if you’re willing to show up, you’re willing to put in the effort, you’re going to get stuff done, you’re going to move the ball forward. And together, we’ll be a stronger conservative movement.
Gib Armstrong: Wow. $23,000 to $500. There’s a level playing field.
Our next speaker is Todd Taylor. Todd is the President of the Penn State College Republicans. And we got a lot of College Republicans up here. Where are the College Democrats? Don’t they care about free speech?
But Todd is President of the Penn State College Republicans. And Penn State is the one campus in Pennsylvania where we’ve made the most significant progress. And Todd, thank you for being with us. Look forward to hearing your remarks.
Todd Taylor: Penn State.
First of all, I want to say — again, it’s an honor to be here. And we have to recognize two people — David Horowitz and Mr. Gibson Armstrong, for their hard work that they have done through all of this. Round of applause [for both] [inaudible]. They’ve been thanked enough, but we’re thanking you again.
One of the most memorable moments I have from being at the Penn State College Republicans was during the Michael Moore protest of 2004, where some wacko-crazy liberal came up to me. And he said, “You’re a no-good, lying Bushie.” And, I mean, first I said, “What the heck does that even mean?” And then I said to him, “Well, you’re a no-good, lying Kerry.” So — I mean, it’s — it’s really like, what is the way we talk to each other anymore between Democrats and Republicans? So that was one of the most memorable moments I had.
Being from the great state of Pennsylvania, I can appreciate that my state has been at the forefront, and is the epicenter for a lot of political battles in, in fact, the country. We have seen the rise of such conservative icons such as Senator Rick Santorum. And we miss him greatly in the state of Pennsylvania. And we maybe can also say that our new senator, Bobby Casey, may be the conservative senator from the state of Pennsylvania.
Now Pennsylvania has become a scene of another intense battle. And that battle is student academic freedom rights. And again, Mr. Armstrong has done so much in that topic.
As students, we must yearn for an academic space that is fair and balanced — it’s like Fox News — in which both sets of ideas — not just conservative, not just liberal, but both sets of ideas — can be expressed upon in an individual manner.
Now being from Penn State, one may think that since, you know, it’s a pretty conservative area, that maybe the school is conservative. I thought wrong. We held — the Penn State College Republicans held an unbelievable 9/11 event. And you would think that the administration would even help us raise the flag. They were not cooperative in that. And they charged us. And then they had the audacity and the temerity to say two weeks later, in a formal letter, that we were too loud during our 9/11 event. Well, this is the most heinous event in American history. And I’m not going to be quiet, and neither should you.
And isn’t it odd that, as our Penn State undergraduate government passed a Student Academic Bill of Rights, that that organization was forced to dissolve only about a year and a half later. Unbelievable. So we can see where political allegiances lie.
What can we do? One of the two things that I say we can do — we have to combat apathy. That is really key for me. There has been, I think — the idea with most students is that they’re going to have this professor for say four months, five months, and then they’re going to be done with it. But then that professor is free to hurt other students — continual basis. So we have to act up.
And also another thing you can do — join your local College Republicans. It’s unbelievable what this organization can do; it’s a great organization. And I have met so many unbelievable partnerships and friends in this organization. And, just join.
So in conclusion, I mean, what I would just really like to say — you know, we’re students here — I would say, do not waiver. Students do not yield. Students do not relent. Do not stop. We are college students, and we are not going to surrender in this fight.
Thank you very much.
Gib Armstrong: Well said. And you know, I thought Penn State was a moderate university as well, until I was on the Appropriations hearing and got to interact with their president, which was very interesting.
Our last speaker this morning on the panel is Nate Walton from Bates University. I’ve heard Nate before. And he does a tremendous job about talking about some of the things that they’ve done in Maine. So Nate, thanks for being with us this morning.
Nate Walton: Thank you, Gib. And thank you, Students for Academic Freedom.
I want to start today by reemphasizing what some of the other panelists have said about the importance of the fight for academic freedom. It’s more about a balanced campus. It’s more about intellectual plurality; the diversity of ideas. But most importantly, it’s about the solvency, the intellectual solvency, of the next generation.
Like Paul Gourley and others said, there’s apathy among young people. And if young people don’t stand up for the college campus that their parents are paying for, that they deserve to have, what kind of next generation are we going to have; not only on our campuses but in the business world and in the political world?
Certainly, the events of September 11th, and what Steve Miller has done to honor those on campuses across the country, show that young people are patriotic, conservative values appeal to them; and that they want the freedom on their campus that they deserve.
I want to talk a little bit today about the Students for Academic Freedom effort that we’ve led in Maine on a statewide level, which has been very successful. And I want to start off, as the other panelists have, by thanking David Horowitz. Because without him and Students for Academic Freedom, this effort would not be possible. We would not have the resources, the inspiration or the guidance that we would need to be able to fight this effort and to fight this important battle on our campuses.
Like Paul Gourley said, the College Republicans is a terrific organization in which to battle for academic freedom on our campuses. In Maine we’ve had a great deal of success with this effort. It began a little over two years ago, when 13 college students showed up at the Maine Statehouse to testify for an Academic Bill of Rights. They went into a committee hearing for the Education and Cultural Committee. A state legislator had sponsored the bill; had heard about Students for Academic Freedom, which was by then just starting; and realized — himself a teacher — that this effort was paramount and important.
But most interesting thing for me at that hearing was the folks on the other side, opposing the Academic Bill of Rights — the Maine Education Association, the ACLU, the Teachers Union, the Provos for the University of Maine system, and a number of assorted professors. The rudeness that they showed, the contempt and attitude that they showed towards the students — who testified for eight hours about being called ignorant by the professors, about being ridiculed by their classmates, about being disproportionately funded by the student government was really appalling, and showed the battle that this really is; and that the interests, the entrenched interests, that are on the other side of this academic freedom battle.
What the Maine College Republicans have focused on, on our effort in Maine, is combining what we’ve done as College Republicans — which is fighting on campaigns to help elect Republicans — to also lead the fight for academic freedom, like Paul Gourley mentioned was so important.
We’ve done this through a variety of ways — first of all, by bringing speakers to campus — was how we started doing it. We brought great speakers like David Horowitz, Judge Kenneth Starr, Bill Crystal of the Weekly Standard, among many others.
The second effort is through the Academic Bill of Rights. The Academic Bill of Rights, as I’m sure many of you know, is a document that encourages intellectual pluralism and academic diversity, which has been a fantastic tool to raise debate about academic freedom on campus, and also to create a grievance method, which is the most important thing lacking on our campuses, for students to be able to express their opinions freely, and know that if they are unfairly treated, they will have a mechanism by which to seek grievance.
The Academic Bill of Rights, as I said, was introduced in the Maine legislature. And it failed by a party-line vote. What a surprise. As a result, we use our success in gaining media and attention for introducing the Academic Bill of Rights in student — sorry — the Maine State legislature, which create a great deal of media attention. Thank you.
We use the success of that effort to propose the Academic Bill of Rights in student governments across the state. It passed unanimously at Bates College, without my mentioning its sponsor’s name. And as soon as they found out its sponsor’s name and the organization behind it, they led an effort to repeal it. They call me someone who tried to usurp the democratic effort, even though I’d managed a unanimous passage of the document. And I was able to very successfully — after reading Robert [Schul’s] order for a number of hours — thwart that effort.
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