Fighting for the Right on Campus

As this is my first post, I find it fitting to explain to readers why I am here and what I plan to do through this medium. The note reminds me “introductory or welcome messages, or other short posts must be placed in Open Threads,” but I feel that this will likely evolve into some level of commentary on the political climate on our college campuses.

In mid-2009, I received my Bachelor of Arts in History and Political Science from Middle Tennessee State University and moved to the Washington, D.C. area to work for the Leadership Institute, which has sought for the last three decades to provide young conservatives like myself with the resources and training to become effective in the realm of politics, the media, and public policy.

I have known about and worked with the Leadership Institute on my own campus since 2007, when I first attended their flagship school: the Youth Leadership School, which boasts such notable graduates as “the Architect” Karl Rove and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).

About a dozen years ago, the Leadership Institute established the Campus Leadership Program, which was developed to fight the left on campus: administrators, faculty, and students alike. The project was modest at first, encompassing only the area within Northern Virginia, D.C., and Maryland. Over the past decade, the project has developed into a nation-wide project with thousands of students on hundreds of campuses, working to combat the indoctrination of the left.

William F. Buckley, Jr. would be proud.

My conservative values evolved despite my parents’ disininterest in the political process. I was an active voice in local politics throughout highschool and turned my activism into a near-successful candidacy for office at the age of 19. My mounting interest in conservatism encouraged me to get involved on campus, where liberal policies ran roughshod over common sense and conservative student beliefs.

Thankfully, I met two field representatives from LI’s fall field program who helped me and other students establish a conservative newspaper and strengthen several of our conservative clubs. I even received training on how to win student government elections and was elected to the SGA Senate by a wide margin. At every turn, I was confronted by liberal administrators, faculty, and students who sought to discredit or demean my political persuasion, and with LI training I was able to fight back.

As a member of the team, I now provide the same resources and assistance to conservative students that LI employees once provided to me. I remember how valuable their assistance was, and I understand that what we’re doing is making a difference.

In September 2009, the Leadership Institute launched CampusReform.org, with the goal of increasing the effectiveness of the Campus Leadership Program. It is physically impossible for LI representatives to travel to all 2,000-something campuses, so CampusReofrm.org provides students with a direct line of communication to the Campus Leadership Program. Since its launch, CampusReform.org has sought to expose leftist abuses on campus, with certain success.

Notably, Kimberly, a student at Florida Gulf Coast University, recognized the liberal bias in a textbook about civic participation and alerted CampusReform. The story made local news and a backlash against the student in question occurred. The back-and-forth escalated to the point that the author of the text responded in the local paper with harsh criticism for Kimberly. Loeb, the author, called Kimberly’s concern a “political crusade.” The debate got so heated that the professor responded to Loeb’s remarks, defending Kimberly and applauding her for her civic engagement.

Other stories like this one exist on college campuses across the nation, yet the “movement” as a whole seems content to write off Academia as a liberal stronghold. The truth is that most students are politically unaffiliated and should be encouraged to embrace a philosophy. In my travels, I find students who believe in limited government and personal responsibility, but aren’t politically active. I encourage them to find other like-minded students and organize on campus.

Conservative students face the same liberal hegemony I faced on campus. They’re looking for direction, for some affirmation that what they believe is right. Through my writing here, on my personal blog, and at CampusReform.org, I hope to be able to provide resources for conservative students.

I look forward to bringing campus issues to the forefront of the discussion on RedState.

Matthew Hurtt is a Campus Services Coordinator for the Leadership Institute’s CampusReform.org and can be reached at [email protected].