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Thursday, June 02, 2005
My Advice to College Republicans

A former student of mine asked me for some advice on how the College GOP can make a bigger mark on campus. He was motivated by the fact that a faculty member was recently arrested for trying to block the President's motorcade.

I thought I would share some of my advice and solicit some ideas from you guys.

1. Expand your reach. Take over some clubs. Why? They are a source of funding for events and speakers. They are also a way to recruit new members. The History Club and Political Science Club are great places to start. Don't make a big noisy deal of it. Just do it slowly and quietly. Don't be afraid to start a few clubs either. And make sure you get some of your members elected to the student senate and to the campus programming board. The campus programming board (or whatever they call it on your campus) is responsible for promoting concerts, events and major speakers. They are a huge source of money, and if you are involved, you can influence who gets paid $20k to come on campus. Do you want it to be George Stephanopolis or Ann Coulter? Well then do something about it.

2. Engage the battle of ideas. Get some of your members on the college newspaper as contributors. Better yet, start your own conservative newspaper -- even it if appears twice a semester, it gives you the chance to define what the dialogue is about. Do you want people talking about parking problems on campus or debatingt he colleges affirmative action policies? Again, your choice.

3. Expand the Scope of Conflict. In battles with lefties (be they faculty, staff or administration) they hold all the cards. The solution is to expand the scope of conflict. To varying degrees, you will find much more support for your ideas from the college board of directors, alumni, donors, the student body and the public. Don't like a policy and the administration shut you down? Bring it to the board of directors -- send them a letter! Better yet, figure out how to get one of your members or a friendly alumnus on the board of directors (see what's happening at Princeton!). Use the media to your advantage -- both on campus and in the community.

4. Identify and destroy the speech codes - The left knows it can't win the battle of ideas -- so they shut down the debate with threats and intimidation, on the pretext that they need to protect people's "feelings" and protect against a "hostile environment." Go after speech codes -- relentlessly. Consider legal challenges if necessary. This has a dual purpose -- first, you have an issue where you have the high ground -- free speech! Second, you make the administration think twice before they shut down your speech -- it gives you more leeway on lots of other issues if they fear a lawsuit or negative publicity.

5. Pick your battles.There are lots of good ones. Here are a few:

a) Is ROTC allowed on campus? If not, how can you change this? Can you contact alumni vets? Can you invite World War II vets in to participate in a protest, dialogue or, even better, an old fashioned "teach in" where you -- and not some lefty professor -- controls the floor!

b) Does NYPIRG -- or its equivalent elsewhere -- impose a separate fee on student bills -- requiring you to pay for their liberal political activism? Does that sound right to you? Do something about it!

c) Is there ideological balance on the faculty? Voting registration information is public -- you can pretty easily take a list of names to the board of elections in nearby communities to figure out what the proportion of dems to republicans is on your campus. Use that data to start a discussion about intellectual diversity...

6. Be civil. Be nice to people, even when you disagree with them.

7. Most important, be funny. College students think politics is boring. Don't prove them right. Entertain people. Take risks. Don't like homosexual marriage? Have a mock wedding on campus where four or five people get married. Demand your equal rights to marry four people at a time! It will get your point across. Marry a toaster. Or a goat. Whatever. Do something different, that makes people laugh. Scratch that goat thing, though -- it may haunt you for a long time.

The Affirmative Action Bake sales are a good example of an effective political event because they are unique and interesting -- getting people to say, hmmm... I never thought about it like that before -- that's the reaction you want! Make people think. Then keep the debate going.

One suggestion for this student - How about lying down in front of this prof's driveway on his way to work? Remember to bring a video camera and see how he reacts.
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